Not Wild About Harry
Mystery of the missing magic.
By Lois Wadsworth

HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE: Directed by Chris Columbus. Written by Steve Kloves; based on the novel by J.K. Rowling. Produced by David Heyman. Executive producers, Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe, Michael Barnathan, Duncan Henderson. Cinematography, John Seale. Production design, Stuart Craig. Editor, Richard Francis-Bruce. Music, John Williams. Visual effects, Robert Legato. Costumes, Judianna Makovsky. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, with John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, John Hurt, Alan Rickman and Julie Walters. Also, Warwick Davis, Richard Griffiths, Ian Hart, Fiona Shaw. Warner Bros., 2001. 146 minutes. PG.

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) solve the mystery..

The sheer entertainment value of this very long film's first hour is enchanting, especially a magical trip to London. On his 11th birthday, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is whisked away from home and unpleasant relatives by Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), sent to fetch him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They travel through a contemporary London store that opens into a street of shops Charles Dickens would have recognized. Charming period details firmly anchor the tale in a literary, imaginative England, especially the deliciously tart Goblin bank tellers in a particularly creaky and dank vision of a repository for old money.

Class is the subtle subtext for what becomes a prep-school adventure story, with magic as its primary feature. Harry has learned his parents were murdered by an evil wizard and that he's a wizard himself. When this consummate outsider is thrown into Hogwarts society, he bonds with a crafty scholarship boy, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and a smarty-pants girl, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). He instinctively knows what to do when he meets Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), a smarmy, upper-caste snob with a pinch of real meanness in him.

The school is run by a number of juicy characters amply fleshed out by some of Britain's finest actors. Professor Dumbledore (Richard Harris) is the headmaster and chief wizard. Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) is a strict but kindly disciplinarian. Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart) seems much too timid to teach a class on Defense Against the Dark Arts. Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) is the arrogant teacher of potions whose every gaze drips with icy intelligence and venom.

The film's central weakness is Harry's abrupt transition from being an unloved, picked-upon servant in his relatives' home to a wealthy boy wizard who seeks revenge for his parents' deaths. We do not see his anger, nor is there any scene that brings these strands together.

However, the heart of the film is revealed briefly when Dumbledore warns the boy about spending too much time with the Mirror of Erised. The magic mirror has become Harry's solace, because there he sees loving, lifelike images of his parents, the three of them together as a family. Dumbledore helps Harry see that his longing for family will prevent him from living out his own heroic fate. We've most famously seen this scene before between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Obie Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in Star Wars, but it is movingly done here.

Nevertheless, the film is way too long. Bland Harry's inner life remains a blank. The film's final 80 minutes or so contains increasingly predictable heroics goosed up by special effects. Emotional truth makes film work on all levels, but as Hogwarts' moving staircases show, you can't always get there from here. Now playing at Cinemark and Cinema World.

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Cookie Cutter
Where's the Heart?
By Lois Wadsworth

MONSTERS, INC.: Directed by Pete Docter. Co-Directed by Lee Unkrich, David Silverman. Written by Andrew Stanton, Daniel Gerson; based on an original story by Pete Docter, Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, Ralph Eggleston. Produced by Darla K. Anderson. Executive Producers, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton. Music, Randy Newman. Story supervision, Bob Peterson. Editor, Jim Stewart. Technical director, Thomas Porter. Production design, Harley Jessup, Bob Pauley. Animators, Glenn McQueen, Rich Quade. Lighting, Jean-Claude J. Kalache. Sound design, Gary Rydstrom. Voices: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, with Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly. Disney/Pixar, 2001. G. 88 minutes.

Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) on the floor of Monsters, Inc..

This is the first Pixar (A Bug's Life, Toy Storys) animated film I've actively disliked. It's also the first not directed by the great John Lasseter, so I don't know if my beef with Monsters, Inc. has to do with Pete Docter's debut direction or with Pixar's business arrangement with Disney. It feels more like a conformity-inducing cookie-cutter Disney film for kids than a heartfelt Pixar film for adults that kids will love too.

One of the reasons is that Monsters is like a techno-savvy but heartless commercial. Monsters, Inc. is a huge factory-like workplace, with large mechanical devices that deliver doors to the work stations of pastel colored creatures. These critters open the doors, which turn out to be closet doors, go inside the rooms of sleeping kids and scare them awake. The factory records the kids' screams, which provide lights and power for the city of Monstropolis.

It's a metaphor for how big corporations such as Disney exploit kids in a movie market that's lucrative but needs to be juiced up over time. Delivered right into their homes, sophisticated television commercial messages encourage kids to coerce their parents into taking them to see a particular movie and into buying specific brand-name products marketed by the studios. That income stream provides the energy to run the studio for awhile.

Now there's an energy shortage in Monstropolis, thus a contest between MI's scare master, Sulley (voice John Goodman), and his chief competitor, Randall (Steve Buscemi), to see who can collect the greatest number of kids' screams. The competitiveness shows Randall resorting to dirty tricks to win, while Sulley just wants to get rid of a 3-year old girl, Boo (Mary Gibbs), who has invaded the factory by stealth. Maybe when the money isn't coming in to the studio as fast as it should, kiddie exploitation takes on a competitive edge where anything goes.

Sulley's side-kick is a round green monster with one eye and a smart mouth named Mike (Billy Crystal). I don't like how Mike relates to Sulley. Despite appearances, this is the same loud-mouthed, shallow, movie producer or agent-type character -- a real tantrum thrower -- who appears in nearly every recent Disney movie. It's boring, an idea that was always bankrupt. Kids don't need egoistic verbal bullies glorified.

Likewise, the star treatment given Sulley in the factory mirrors the ego-boosting that sports, movies, television and music icons receive from fans all the time. It's as dated and irrelevant as bullying, and just as inappropriate in helping growing kids find a way to be in the real world.

Boo, however, is pure joy. Like actual toddlers, Boo stays busy, busy, busy -- entertaining herself, laughing with delight and enjoying the world she has entered. She outsmarts Mike and Sulley, easily eluding the nets they set to catch her. Boo is winsome, not cute. When Sulley actually sees the anger he projects when he "scares" kids, he is ashamed and sincerely tries to make things right with Boo, who's become afraid of him. That's the best moment in the movie. Hope parents catch it.

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Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise noted.

2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick's classic futuristic film from 1968 is about astronauts on a space voyage to Jupiter that's been taken over by a computer, HAL 9000, which they must stop. Beautiful special effects and Kubrick's choice of music add to film's mystical appeal. Not rated. At 7 pm on 11/28 in 180 PLC. Free.

Apocalypse Now Redux: Last chance to see Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 hallucinogenic Vietnam War epic on the big screen. Remastered and recut from original dailies by Coppola and film's editor, Walter Murch, it's brilliant. Entirely new sequences help humanize the minor characters. Stars. Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Frederic Forrest, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Sam Bottoms and Albert Hall. Runs 196 minutes. Highest recommendations. R. Bijou. Online archives.

Black Knight: Martin Lawrence stars in Gil Junger's comedy about a theme park called Medieval World with a portal that opens into England of the 1300s. You know who crawls through and has to live by his wits. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Glitter: Mariah Carey stars in this somewhat autobiographical movie about a young singer who has to overcome her awful childhood to grow up and find herself. Also stars Max Beesley. PG-13. Movies 12.

Night of the Shooting Stars, The: 1982 Italian film directed by Paola and Vittorio Taviani is a beautiful, poignant WWII story about the split in a village between supporters of the Fascists and those whose loyalties lie with the Allies. Won Cannes '82 Grand Jury Prize. R. At 7 pm on 11/27 in 122 Pacific Hall. Free.

Out Cold: Guys on snowboards. Comedy adventure flick stars Jason London and a lot of other people you won't know. Snowboard champions perform daring stunts. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Rat Race: Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr. and other desperate folks make fools of themselves looking for a $2 million jackpot hidden somewhere in New Mexico. Directed by Jerry Zucker of Airplane! fame. PG-13. Movies 12.

Spy Game: Robert Redford is a CIA officer who mentors Brad Pitt in this spy thriller directed by Tony Scott (Enemy of the State). Also stars Catherine McCormack. R. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Taxi Blues: (Russia, 1990) Pavel Lounguine won best director at Cannes '90 for this portrait of a Moscow taxi driver and a Jewish musician who can't pay his fare. Videohound says: "Good look at the street life of Moscow populated by drunks, punks, and black marketeers." Not rated. At 6:30 pm on 11/28 in 115 Pacific Hall. Free.

American Pie 2: Same cast -- Chris Klein, Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas -- now directed by J. B. Rogers. R. Movies 12.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Disney animated tale directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. Voices include Michael J. Fox, James Garner and Leonard Nimoy. PG. Movies 12.

Bandits: Bank robbers Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis visit bank officers, stay overnight, and get them to open the safe the next morning. They both fall for kidnap victim, housewife Cate Blanchett. Barry Levinson directed. PG-13. Movies 12.

Domestic Disturbance: In Harold Becker's drama, John Travolta discovers that his ex-wife's new husband is a con man, and Travolta's 11-year old son has seen him murder someone. Also stars Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo and Matthew O'Leary. PG-13. Cinemark.

Don't Say a Word: Based on Andrew Klaven's novel, film is about a child psychiatrist (Michael Douglas) who tries to save his daughter from a kidnapper by getting critical information from a disturbed patient. Gary Fleder directs. R. Movies 12.

Ghost World: Terry Zwigoff's highly acclaimed film, loosely adapted by Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes from Clowes' comic book, stars Thora Birch (American Beauty) and Scarlett Johannson as disaffected teens, Steve Buscemi as the bitter adult who befriends them. With Brad Renfro, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban and Illeana Douglas. R. Bijou. Online archives.

Glass House, The: Psychological nightmare stars Leelee Sobieski as an orphaned girl (and her brother) taken in by her parents' best friends(Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgard). PG-13. Movies 12.

Grateful Dawg: David Grisman and Jerry Garcia pick and sing bluegrass and other American music in this intimate, endearing documentary by Gillian Grisman. Highly recommended. PG-13. Bijou. Online archives.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Early reviews say it is utterly faithful to J.K. Rowling's book, which can either be a good thing or not. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, John Cleese, Robbie Coltrane and more. Directed by Chris Columbus. PG. Cinema World. Cinemark. See review this issue.

Hearts in Atlantis: Anthony Hopkins and Hope Davis star in Scott Hicks' late-1950s adventure drama. Written by William Goldman, based on Stephen King's novel. PG-13. Movies 12.

Heist: David Mamet's too-clever caper film stars Gene Hackman, Rebecca Pidgeon, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Ricky Jay and Sam Rockwell. Hackman, Lindo and Jay are top-notch; plot is pedestrian. R. Cinema World. Cinemark. Online archives.

Joy Ride: Scary road trip about a practical joke turned lethal stars Paul Walker and Steve Zahn, who play brothers, and Leelee Sobiesky. John Dahl directs. R. Movies 12.

K-PAX: Ian Softley (Wings of the Dove) directs Jeff Bridges, who plays a psychiatrist, and Kevin Spacey's the patient who says he's from another planet. The good doctor notices changes for the better in the other mental ward patients. PG-13. Cinema World. Cinemark.

Life as a House: Irwin Winkler's tearjerker about an architect (Kevin Kline) who learns he's dying. He asks his rebellious teenage son (Hayden Christensen) and his estranged wife (Kristin Scott Thomas) to help him build a new house. R. Cinemark.

Monsters Inc.: From Pixar, the creators of Toy Story, comes a new computer-animated feature about a scare factory, Monsters Inc., and its top monster, Sulley (voice of John Goodman). Also voices of Billy Crystal, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Steve Buscemi and Mary Gibbs. G. Cinema World. Cinemark. See review this week.

Musketeer, The: Action adventure based on Alexandre Dumas classic is directed by Peter Hyams stars Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rhea, Tim Roth and Justin Chambers. Xin Xin Xiong, choreographer of Once Upon a Time in China, orchestrates fight sequences. PG-13. Movies 12.

One, The: A dual role for Jet Lin who straddles parallel universes - one where he's good, the other where he's evil. A rogue agent is loose in multiple universes and must be stopped. Also stars Delroy Lindo. PG-13. Cinemark.

Princess Diaries, The: Directed by Garry Marshall, this comedy about a S.F. teen who finds out she's a princess stars Anne Hathaway, Hector Elizondo, Julie Andrews, Robert Schwartzman and Heather Matarazzo. G. Movies 12.

Rush Hour 2: Brett Ratner returns to direct Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as detectives who travel to Hong Kong, LA and Vegas looking for a master criminal. Also stars Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, The Road Home). PG-13. Movies 12.

Shallow Hal: In the Farrelly brothers new film, Jack Black plays a neurotic womanizer who gets hypnotized into seeing women's inner beauty. He sees right through Gwyneth Paltrow's fat suit. Early reviews say the Farrellys are uncharacteristically good humored. Hmmm. PG-13. Cinemark. Cinema World.

Shrek: Computer-animated fairy tale (by DreamWorks' Pacific Data Images, makers of Antz) stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow. Entertaining and funny for kids and grown-ups. PG. Movies 12. Online archives.

Wash: Not a remake of Michael Schultz' hilarious 1976 Car Wash with George Carlin and Richard Pryor, this is about two broke roomies who go to work at a mob-owned carwash. Stars Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg; directed by D.J. Pooh ("3 Strikes"). R. Cinemark.

Use the links provided below for specific show times.

Bijou Art Cinemas
Bijou Theater 686-2458 | 492 E. 13th

Regal Cinemas
Cinema World 342-6536 | Valley River Center
Springfield Quad 726-9073 |

Cinemark Theaters
Movies 12 741-1231 | Gateway Mall
Movies before 12:30 are Sat. Sun. only. $1.50 all shows all days.
Cinemark 17 741-1231 | Gateway Mall

Releases subject to change. Available the Tuesday following date of EW publication, sometimes sooner:

Bread and Roses
: Ken Loach drama about immigrant workers who stand up to a big corporation that treats them badly. Stars Adrien Brody, Pilar Padilla, Elpida Carrillo and Jack McGee. R.

Divided We Fall: Set in a Nazi-occupied Czech village during WWII, film tracks the fortunes of an ordinary couple who give refuge to a local Jewish man who's escaped from Theresienstadt concentration camp. Understated and gently hopeful, comic portrayal of wartime stress and how some souls respond to it. Highly recommended. PG-13. Online archives.

Made: The Swingers team is at it again. Jon Favreau directs, writes and co-produces with Vince Vaughn in this tale of two goofy guys trying to break into the mob. Also stars Peter Falk and Sean Combs. R. Online archives.

Pootie Tang: Stars Lance Crouther as Pootie and JB Smoove as the film's narrator, this "joke action film ...revels in more cheese per square inch than a soul food diner," The New York Times notes, but is "incredibly sweet spirited." Written and directed by Louis C. K. Chris Rock appears as Pootie's father and JB. PG-13.

Road Home, The: Zhang Yimou's (Not One Less.) beautiful film starring Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) evokes a world that has been swept away by change. Set in a remote Chinese village today and in the 1950s, it's a touching love story set in a more fully lived time. Highly recommended. G. Online archives.

Time Lapse: Secret agent of 20 years is injected with a drug that causes amnesia. Directed by David Worth, this spy thriller stars Roy Scheider, Dina Meyers and Henry Rollins. NR.

Wind River: Set on the Utah frontier in 1855, it's based on a true story about a settler child kidnapped and lovingly raised by Shoshones. When he is located by the settlers, he has to chose. Tom Shell directs. Karen Black, Wes Studi and Russell Means star. 1998. NR.

Next week: American Outlaws, Cora Unashamed, Execution of Justice, Ghosts of Mars, Pearl Harbor and Summer Catch.

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