Film Openings

Week of December 19, 2001

Joe Somebody. John Pasquin. As the titular Joe, Tim Allen, badly miscast as a sensitive AV-club nerd gone corporate, makes commercials and intraoffice films for a pharmaceutical company. He's still recovering from a messy divorce from wife Callie (Kelly Lynch), and his only friend is his 12-year-old daughter (Hayden Panettiere). On Take Your Daughter to Work Day, his parking space is snagged by the office bully, Mark McKinney (not the Kids in the Hall cast member but Seinfeld's Puddy, Patrick Warburton). Confronting Mark, Joe gets smacked in the face a couple of times, humiliating him in front of his daughter and co-workers. One three-day drunken binge later, he decides to take revenge and challenges Mark to a rematch. Too bad the battle between dueling Buzz Lightyear voice actors doesn't actually take up much screen time. Warburton's put on the back burner as Allen sings karaoke, sets his hair on fire and hits on a pretty co-worker, energized by his newfound confidence. Screenwriter John Scott Shepherd seems to have cribbed his premise from the likes of American Beauty and Fight Club, which were much funnier. Opens Dec. 19 at multiple locations. (LYT)

Kate and Leopold. James Mangold. Opens Dec. 25 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Peter Jackson. Opens Dec. 21 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

The Majestic. Frank Darabont. An up-and-coming Hollywood screenwriter (Jim Carrey), circa 1951, under pressure to testify before HUAC, unintentionally disappears: He loses his memory in a car accident, then wanders into a small town where he just happens to resemble a local boy who has been reported missing in action during World War II. He doesn't think he's the war hero, but, not having any other identity to cling to, he allows himself to take on the role -- particularly because the job includes a loving father (Martin Landau), a gorgeous fiancée (Laurie Holden), a Medal of Honor and the admiration of the whole town. Director Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) is admittedly trying for a Frank Capra effect. Indeed, the best that can be said about this overly leisurely, sledgehammer-subtle film is that it may boost Capra's reputation by virtue of comparison. Apparently it's not so easy to weave that kind of magic. Carrey has long since proved himself a versatile actor, not just a rubber-faced clown, but he doesn't fill the shoes of either James Stewart or Gary Cooper here. And the entire cast is forced to deliver some howlers that would have seemed clichéd 50 years ago. Opens Dec. 19 at multiple locations. (AK)

The Shipping News. Lasse Halström. Kevin Spacey, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett star in this adaptation of E. Annie Proulx's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Opens Dec. 25 at the Plaza Frontenac. NR

Titanica. Stephen Low. Another tribute to filmmakers' apparent willingness to shlep the massive Imax camera to the ends of the earth, Titanica goes 12,500 feet down to the ocean floor and the crusty remains of the Titanic. Before we begin our journey, we get close-ups of the sweaty face of a Russian research-ship captain and his massive, squat, ugly vessel. He and his droogies from Russia and the U.S. squeeze into tiny submersibles and dive to the strains of some lovely Tchaikovsky music. This 1992 film then proceeds to alternate between preserved photos of the nightmarishly huge Titanic being built and being enjoyed by passengers, and film footage of the sediment-coated, rust-colored, ghostly wreckage. The contrast is chilling -- the audience is led to imagine the unimaginable horrors that happened in the interim. A Titanic survivor who as a little girl was placed in one of the lifeboats recalls her experience as well. Now playing at the Omnimax. (BK)

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