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MOVIE REVIEW

&

145;Producers,&

passes, &

145;Dick and Jane&

falls short

&

Fun With Dick and Jane&

is billed as great holiday entertainment. It should be billed as the last offering from Hollywood in a year of bland, silly, nonstarter films. Jim Carrey has made a career of being a bit over the top when it comes to his comedy, and in movies such as &

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective&

or &

The Mask,&

his style worked. But in dialed-back comedy, which is what &

Dick and Jane&

is, he crosses that comedic line and humorous becomes downright silly, detracting from what could have been a small, interesting film. Carrey has played serious, or semiserious, to good effect, as he did in &

The Majestic.&

But it would take a tough director to insist that he tone down his slapstick, since Carrey has likely been told for years, now, that he is a comic genius.

The story of Dick and Jane could have been interesting: a young couple, both with good jobs, Dick Harper, a vice president at a major corporation, just promoted, suddenly overwhelmed by decidedly hard times. Dick&

s company Globodyne is ravaged by its CEO (campy performance by Alec Baldwin), and Dick is left holding the bag. Jane, meanwhile, has quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom. Desperate, having run out of options, they decide to become Bonnie and Clyde with a lot less ability. At the outset, they couldn&

t hold up a kindergarten class for its milk money. But after a few jobs, they get the hang of it. Had the filmmakers decided to give the film some edge, let certain scenes carry the comedy and not Carrey, this could have been a nifty B movie. But not to be. Carrey dominates and not in a good way. Hence, &

Dick and Jane&

loses all momentum and eventually stalls.

If &

Dick and Jane&

stalls, then the engine of &

The Producers&

quits in the middle of an L.A. intersection. Clearly, the producers concluded that they couldn&

t miss after the show&

s wildly successful run on Broadway. Take essentially the same cast, music and story from the stage musical and transfer same to celluloid, and the film would be embraced as was the Broadway show.

But what&

s to embrace? The acting by Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick is exaggerated and overwrought to the point that Susan Stroman, the director, who also directed the Broadway show, must have forgotten the adage that in front of the camera, which is unforgiving, less is more. What works with live theater seems artificial if not ridiculous with a Canon lens aimed at your kisser. And compounding the felony is that the story, perilously thin, becomes merely a platform for one song after the next. The trailer gives the impression that this version would confine the singing and dancing to &

Spring Time for Hitler,&

the Broadway show that the team of Bloom (Broderick) and Bialystock (Lane) fervently hope will flop. But not to be. &

The Producers&

is a musical with a vengeance. And with the exception of the performance of Uma Thurman, as the leggy Ulla, wannabe actress and part-time secretary, the movie flatlines.

In so many ways this film seems decidedly retro, made for an audience that is no more. There was a golden age of musicals, stage and screen, but that was then and this is now. One example is the portrayal of gays as campy, vampy drag queens in boots and leather studs, given to prancing and preening and histrionics. It&

s the equivalent of bringing out a mimic of Al Jolsen in black face to sing &

Mammy.&

To laugh at some of these scenes is the equivalent of laughing at a Step n&

Fetch-it character, often used in films of the &

30s and &

40s, wherein the black man or woman is insidiously stereotyped. For this reason alone &

The Producers&

rates a pass.

NOW PLAYING:

Rumor Has It

A young woman who has finally agreed to marry her boyfriend learns her grandmother

may have been the inspiration for Mrs. Robinson in &

The Graduate&

.

Directed by Rob Reiner (&

When Harry Met Sally&

) Jennifer Aniston, Shirley MacLaine, Kevin Costner, Mark Ruffalo, Mena Suvari, Richard Jenkins.

PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content, crude humor and a drug reference, 97min.

Producers

The hit Broadway musical based on Mel Brooks&

1968 film finally comes full circle. A scheming

theatrical producer and his mousy CPA hit upon the perfect plan to embezzle a fortune: Raise far more money than needed to produce a sure-fire Broadway flop and then (since no one will expect anything back) pocket the difference.

Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell.

PG-13 for sexual humor and references, 133 min.

Wolf Creek

Two British backpackers and an Australian they&

ve just met go

sightseeing at Wolf Creek National Park. When their vehicle breaks down and they accept help from a friendly local, they come to

realize the guy has no intention of ever letting them leave. Loosely based on a true story, a very intense backwoods survival/horror film.

John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Andy McPhee, Kestie Morassi, Guy Petersen, Nathan Phillips.

R for strong gruesome violence, and for language, 99 min.

Memoirs of a Geisha

A sweeping romantic epic set in a mysterious and exotic world, the story begins in the years before WWII, when a penniless

Japanese child is torn from her family to work as a maid in a geisha house. The girl eventually blossoms into a legendary geisha,

captivating the most powerful men of her day, but haunted by her secret love for a man who is out of her reach. Directed by Rob Marshall (&

Chicago&

).

PG-13 for mature subject matter and some sexual content, 145 min.

King Kong

An expedition searches for a mythic monster on a far away island, and a playwright becomes an unlikely hero in a romantic adventure story that will test both his physical courage and his heart. Directed by Peter Jackson (&

Lord of the Rings&

trilogy) Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Andy Serkis, Colin Hanks.

PG-13/180 min.

Family Stone

A man brings his ice-queen girlfriend home for Christmas to meet his eccentric family. Overwhelmed by a hostile reception, the girlfriend begs her sister to join her for moral support, resulting in further problems and romantic complications. Diane Keaton, Sara Jessica Parker, Dermot Mulroney, Rachel McAdams, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes.

PG-13 for some sexual content including dialogue, and drug references/103 min.

Chronicles of Narnia

A White Witch has used her dark powers to keep Narnia in winter, but it is foretold that four humans will be able to help break the spell. When four siblings&

150;Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter&

150;enter the enchanted world through a wardrobe, the stage is set for a classic battle of epic proportions. Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes.

PG for for battle sequences and frightening moments/140 min.

Syriana

A political thriller that tracks several characters with different backgrounds across the globe as they find their lives impacted by ruthless competition for the incalculable power and wealth that drives the energy industry. Written and Directed by Stephen Gaghan (writer &

Traffic&

); suggested by the book &

See No Evil&

by Robert Baer George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, William Hurt, Michelle Monaghan, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Tim Blake Nelson, Max Minghella, Chris McDonald, Greta Scacchi.

R for violence and language, 126 min.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen&

s classic tale of love and misunderstanding unfolds in class-conscious England near the close of the 18th century. Five sisters have been raised well aware of their mother&

s fixation on finding them husbands and securing set futures. The spirited and intelligent Elizabeth, however, strives to live her life with a broader perspective, as encouraged by her doting father.

PG for some mild thematic elements/128 min.

Fun with Dick and Jane

When the company Dick works for becomes involved in a scandal, and he and his wife are confronted

with the prospect of losing everything, they are forced to beg, borrow and steal to get it all back.

Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni, Alec Baldwin.

PG-13 for brief language, some sexual humor and occasional humorous drug references, 90 min.

Cheaper by the Dozen 2

On vacation, the Baker family find themselves in competition with an over-achieving family headed by Tom&

s long-time rival.

Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Eugene Levy, Piper Perabo, Tom Welling, Hilary Duff.

PG for crude humor and mild language, 94 min.