Son of Random Blurbs

The Cutting Edge (1992) *** Often sweet, sometimes derivative romance of big, burly hockey player (D. B. Sweeney) and frigid ice queen (Moira Kelly). The leads click pretty well, and the movie never descends into oversentimentality. Cute fun.

Parenthood (1989) ***1/2 Hilarious sendup/cautionary tale of, well, parenting, with Steve Martin as harried pa, Jason Robards as crotchety old man, Tom Hulce as scheming brother, and Keanu Reeves as a lackabout fiance. Also features Dianne Wiest, Mary Steenbergen, and Rick Moranis. Honest and uproarious.

Tommy Boy (1995) ** Sometime hit features Chris Farley and David Spade as a loser and his uptight companion (who’s hired to keep an eye on Farley) getting into trouble while trying to save the auto-parts business of the former’s father. Wouldn’t have worked at all if not for the great chemistry between the blustery Farley and the snide Spade.

Immediate Family (1989) *** Sometimes tender tale about a young couple (Mary Stuart Masterson, Kevin Dillon) that puts their baby up for adoption, and the older adoptive couple (James Woods, Glenn Close). Solid work from the four leads, particularly the females; it tries not to be too preachy, and it usually succeeds.

The Usual Suspects (1995) ***1/2 Bryan Singer’s killer-diller tale of dishonor among a bunch of lowlife criminals crackles every step of the way, with a wonderful twist at the end that – if you haven’t already been spoiled – should knock your socks off. Bravura performance by the ensemble cast, particularly Kevin Spacey in a breakout role, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Nurse Betty (2000) ** Surprisingly ineffective, mild comedy about a waitress (Rene Zellweger) who becomes delusional after her husband’s murdered – and takes on the persona of her favorite soap-opera star, traveling to L.A. to find her “fiance.” Meanwhile, the real killers (Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock) are on the loose and looking for her. Zellweger’s adorable as always, but this was a misfire for her.

Witness (1985) *** A young Amish boy witnesses a murder in Philadelphia, and it’s up to intrepid big-city cop Harrison Ford to protect the child – and solve the murder. Soon corruption is exposed, and Ford must find a way to blend in with the agrarian community that the boy calls home – oh, and maybe fall for the lad’s mom (Kelly McGillis). Ford’s rock solid as usual, and he and the gorgeous rural Pennsy scenery more than make up for plot holes.

Dead Poets Society (1989) *1/2 An idealistic teacher (Robin Williams) at a posh private school exhorts his charges to seize the day; they do, and The Man (i.e., school authorities and the kids’ parents) take notice and umbrage, not necessarily in that order. Predictable movie in the rebel-teacher mold, although any movie that mentions “O Captain, my Captain” isn’t a total loss. Film tugs hard on your heartstrings, but you’ll wonder what the fuss was all about.

It Could Happen to You (1994) **1/2 Fun, whimsical look at a real story, that of an honest cop (Nicholas Cage) offering to split his potential lottery winnings with a waitress (Bridget Fonda) in lieu of an actual tip. He wins, he doesn’t welsh, and all is well – except his wife (Rosie Perez) is none too pleased with her man’s sincerity. Movie works if it hits you in the right mood, sweeping you on its flight of fancy; Perez is wonderful.

Fearless (1993) ** A man (Jeff Bridges) walks away from a deadly plane crash and finds his life changed forever in more ways than one. Soon he thinks he’s invulnerable; his analyst introduces him to other survivors, trying to find out What It All Means. Bridges is earnest, and Rosie Perez (as another survivor) is solid, but it all feels somewhat put-on.

Ruby in Paradise (1992) **1/2 Ashley Judd, in her first big role, plays Ruby Lee, a young woman who moves to Florida to start life anew. She falls under the protective wing of store owner Mildred (Dorothy Lyman) and tries to right the mess she’s made of her life. Sleepy film gives great glimpse at Judd as a novice; her quiet strength carries the film.

Ed Wood (1994) ***1/2 Pitch-perfect comedy about the life and times of the world’s worst director, Edward D. Wood, Jr. (Johnny Depp) and his cadre of has-been and never-was actors and crew. Bill Murray plays Bunny Breckinridge, Jeffrey Jones plays Criswell, and Patricia Arquette plays Wood’s gal pal – but it’s Martin Landau in a jaw-dropping performance as the elderly Bela Lugosi, who steals the show.

Ed TV (1999) *** Ed (Matthew McConaughey) is followed around by a camera crew all day and all night, and hilarity ensues. Warily drawn into the mix are his brother (Woody Harrelson), his girlfriend (Jenna Elfman), and his estranged parents (Dennis Hopper and Sally Kirkland, not to mention his friends and coworkers. Ron Howard film is as jaunty as Splash, with the underlying theme of privacy ringing even truer today than then, with the increase of reality television.

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