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Short Subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics

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NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS (PG-13) Eddie Murphy adds to the shortage of African-American movie roles by playing half the cast in the frantic, sporadically funny follow-up. Rotund Sherman Klump remains Murphy's most endearing comic creation, but the story's sci-fi conceits are more contrived, while the coarse jokes prove more cruel and scattershot. -- CH

THE ORIGINAL KINGS OF COMEDY (R) Seeing four comedians best known for their work on WB and ABC's "TGIF" sitcoms might sound unpromising, but Spike Lee effectively captures the excitement and hilarity of history's highest grossing comedy concert. Dapper Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric "The Entertainer" and Bernie Mac offer a profane, uninhibited evening, with Hughley offering the most cathartic and pointed riffs on America's racial differences. -- CH

PAY IT FORWARD (PG-13) A crass, manipulative tearjerker aimed at the knee-caps of the Oprah crowd, Mimi Leder's tiny tot social-issue melodrama features The Sixth Sense's waif Haley Joel Osment as an 11-year-old inspired by his new teacher (Kevin Spacey) to go out and change the world by performing good deeds. Osment starts at home, where he tries to fix up his boozer mom with his straight-laced teacher. -- FF

PLACE VENDOME A lonely woman (Catherine Deneuve) finds passion for life after she discovers the hidden truth about her dead husband's respectable jewelry shop in this 1998 French thriller. Set in France's trendy Place Vendeme, the movie follows Marrianna as she becomes reinvigorated by the secrets she uncovers.

REMEMBER THE TITANS (PG) Producer Jerry Bruckheimer's films tend to be as slick as TV ads, but this depiction of a newly integrated high school football team's victories on the field and off plays more like a public service announcement on steroids. Glossy and shamelessly manipulative, it's nevertheless involving in spite of itself, with Denzel Washington leading an agreeable cast of young actors. Filmed in Atlanta. -- CH

THE REPLACEMENTS (PG-13) 1/2 As predictable as any movie this year and just about as entertaining, this comic recycling of the formula about a bunch of misfits and losers learning to work together to win stars Keanu Reeves as the quarterback of a team of scab football players hired during a strike. Their winning ways develop along with Reeves' romance with cheerleader Brooke Langton. Any Given Sunday raised the bar for big-screen football action and The Replacements returns it to an acceptable but hardly thrilling level. Reeves' stunt double sees plenty of action as the masochistic Falco takes the hits and never cries "Whoa!" -- SW

SAVING GRACE (R) In the small, English seaside region of Cornwall, everyone knows everyone else's business, except, of course, their own. A garden-variety homemaker, Grace (Brenda Bleythn) is the last to learn of her late husband's infidelity which, as it turns out, is the least of her problems. It seems the old bastard went and died broke, as well. Post-menopausal and without any marketable skills, she has only the gift of her green thumb. Grace has only a short period of time to come up with more than 300,000 pounds, but when Michael (Craig Ferguson of "The Drew Carey Show"), Grace's loyal gardener, asks her to nurse his wilted marijuana plants back to health, she begins to think outside of the box. -- KL

SPACE COWBOYS (PG-13) I don't know how much charm weighs but in Space Cowboys it's measured by the ton. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film's about a pride of old lions, Eastwood, James Garner, Donald Sutherland and Tommie Lee Jones, called upon to repair an obsolete Russian satellite about to fall out of orbit. Its heroes may be too old for teenagers to identify with but for boomers, it's a hoot. It's predictable in many ways but it contains genuine tension, belly laughs and human warmth. Go see it. -- RJ

TWO FAMILY HOUSE (R) A cross between a lost episode of "The Honeymooners" and "The Sopranos" without the Mafia, Raymond De Felitta's comedy-drama provides a little nostalgia (1956) and a lot of heart. Michael Rispoli stars as a dreamer whose wife (Katherine Narducci) puts him down until he finds a woman (Kelly Macdonald) who's more encouraging, but she's the tenant he's trying to evict so he can turn a house into a bar. Once it becomes obvious where the film's heading, it takes a bit too long to get there, but it's smooth sailing for the viewer all the way. -- SW

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (R) Alfred Hitchcock is invoked countless times to no avail in John Ottman's sequel to the campus cut-up saga. This time it's film students who are being murdered, in between shooting murder scenes for their thesis films. It's confusing, occasionally amusing, but never frightening, suspenseful or surprising (you know the dude who says "Fuck George Lucas!" is gonna die). That it's no worse than the original is hardly praise. -- SW

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