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Short subjectives

Capsule reviews of films by CL critics


Opening Wednesday
ADAM SANDLER'S 8 CRAZY NIGHTS (PG-13) In this animated Chanukah story, Adam Sandler provides the voice for a lead character patterned after himself, as well as an elderly basketball coach and his wife. Such former "Saturday Night Live" players as Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon and Jon Lovitz also provide speaking parts.

EXTREME OPS (PG-13) Fans of XXX make the target demographic for this action flick in which some extreme sports filmmakers must use their talents at stuff like snowboarding to outmaneuver terrorists in the Alps.

SOLARIS (PG-13) Steven Soderbergh's remake of the 30-year-old Russian science-fiction film is more of a psych 101 exercise than a sci-fi vehicle. The film's quiet, minimal tone is a little too subtle for George Clooney, playing a psychiatrist who investigates why surveyors of an alien planet have all gone insane. Though the film has an intriguing first act and raises questions worthy of a good "Star Trek" episode, it shies away from the premise's deeper implications about grief and memory.--Curt Holman

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN (PG) The Funk Brothers -- the unsung session musicians on the Motown label -- finally get their due for providing pop music with more hits than any other combo in history. The respectful but spirited documentary delivers earthy interviews with the surviving musicians as well as exuberant performances from a 2000 reunion concert, with the likes of Joan Osborne and Chaka Khan singing classics like "Heat Wave" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."--CH

TREASURE PLANET (PG) Disney's heart is in the right place for this animated, space-faring version of the Robert Louis Stevenson adventure, which boasts spectacular set pieces and a nice relationship between cabin boy Jack Hawkins and a cybernetic pirate named Silver. But unnecessary ballast comes from such shameless, pandering touches as a wisecracking robot (voiced by Martin Short), a pop power ballad, a cutesy alien sidekick and interludes for extreme sports.--CH

WES CRAVEN PRESENTS THEY (PG-13) Robert Harmon, director of the cult suspense film The Hitcher, this horror flick about hotties who fear that their "night terrors" suggest that bona fide boogeymen are stalking them.

Duly Noted
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the musical horror spoof follows an all-American couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a drag-queen/mad scientist from another galaxy. It's all fun and games until Meatloaf gets killed. Dress as your favorite character and participate in this musical on acid. Midnight Fri. at Lefont Plaza Theatre and Sat. at Marietta Star Cinema.

ABANDON (PG-13) Steve Gaghan, Oscar-winning writer of Traffic, tries his hand at directing with this college thriller about a student (Katie Holmes) torn between her feelings for her mystery-man boyfriend (Charlie Hunnam) and an older detective (Benjamin Bratt).

THE BANGER SISTERS (R) Goldie Hawn is an ex-Sixties groupie, Susan Sarandon her fellow "banger sister" who has remade herself into a prim Phoenix wife and mother. When the two reunite, Hawn imparts some valuable lessons about "being true to yourself" which help Sarandon cast off the chains of suburban conformity. If trite messages about "freedom" and "individuality" coming from a prototypically brain-dead Hollywood film where the words "hand job" are used to garner laughs are your cup of tea -- drink up. All others have been warned. --FF

BARBERSHOP (PG-13) Ice Cube goes for a day-in-the-life-of-the-'hood vibe comparable to his trilogy of Friday films, but this modest comedy centered around a Chicago hair-cuttery feels trimmed of laughs. The labored slapstick with two accident-prone ATM thieves and the squabbles between the barbers are about as thin as a comb-over. As the oldest and most outspoken barber, Cedric the Entertainer makes a lonely effort to give the film some old-school personality.--CH

BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE (R) An often cruelly jocular agitprop documentary about an out-of-control American gun culture, Michael Moore's (Roger & Me) nightmare tour of America's covert foreign policy, Michigan Militia and NRA rallies, conspiratorial kooks and sleazy TV producers makes a good case for the hair-trigger viciousness of our eye-for-an-eye culture even as it reduces painful, profound issues to irony-laced, laughable sport.--FF

BROWN SUGAR (PG-13) This predictable romantic comedy centers on two lifelong best friends, a music business executive (Taye Diggs) and a music magazine editor (Sanaa Lathan), who spend the entire movie fighting the fact that they're meant for each other. The film's whole point is that these two are forever linked through their love of hip-hop, but aside from the obligatory music biz cameos and lots of lip service from the leading characters, hip-hop rarely comes alive as its own fire-breathing entity, meaning that the pair might as well be joined by a mutual love of pro wrestling, Alan Rudolph flicks or Pokemon trading cards. --Matt Brunson

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