ARCHIVED REVIEWS (J)
Jackass the Movie
Jakob the Liar
Jason X
Jay and Silent Bob Strike...
Jeepers Creepers
Jet Boy
Jesus' Son
Jimmy Neutron
Joe Dirt
Joe Gould's Secret
Joe Somebody
John Carpenter's Ghosts...
John Q.
Josie and the Pussycats
Joy Ride
Jungle Book 2, the
Jurassic Park III
Just Married
Just Visiting
Juwanna Mann

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Archived Video Reviews (J)
 

JACKASS THE MOVIE -
D+
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Jason Acuna, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Chris Raab, Ehren McGhehey
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Comedy, 84 min (18A) (Paramount, 2002)


Before witnessing Jackass The Movie, I must admit that, though familiar with the antics of the MTV morons who subject themselves to one idiotic stunt after the other, I had never actually born witness to their work. Having watched Jackass The So-Called Movie, not only do I wish that I had still never experienced these numbskulls, I would rather have a baby alligator chew on my nipple than go through such torture again. For the unfamiliar, Jackass was a controversial MTV series in which a group of nitwits led by Johnny Knoxville (who has since gone on to more legitimate work like Men in Black II and Big Trouble) basically dream up new ways to torture themselves and then film this pain for the cameras. The skits in Jackass the Movie are taken to more of an extreme, with such mindless gags as a bungee wedgie, getting shot in the stomach with a bean-bag gun, eating a snow cone covered in urine, and so on. Throughout, I think I laughed twice. The rest of the time, I wasn't so much disgusted (though I had every right to be) as bored silly by this pathetic and completely worthless excuse for entertainment. All things considered, Jackass is about as painful and useless as having paper cuts administered between your toes. (top) (back)

JAKOB THE LIAR - B-
Starring: Robin Williams, Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, Hannah Taylor Gordon, Michael Jeter, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Liev Schreiber
Directed by:
Peter Kassovitz
Drama, 120 min (14A) (Columbia Tristar, 1999)

It's not much of a compliment to say that a film could have been worse, but that's a thought that that keeps running through one's head throughout Jakob the Liar, a Holocaust drama that, in simple terms, could be called the Robin Williams version of Life is Beautiful (though, truth be told, filming began before Life is Beautiful was even released in Italy). Set in a Polish ghetto during WWII, the film casts Williams as Jakob, a Jewish widower who brings hope to those around him by projecting good news from a nonexistent radio. Considering the high schmaltz factor of recent Williams films like What Dreams May Come and Patch Adams, the comedian gives a surprisingly poignant and restrained performance in Jakob, only occasionally going off on a tangent (one particularly jarring scene appears as though it dropped out of Good Morning Vietnam). Jakob the Liar may not be as enthralling as Life is Beautiful but, thanks particularly to the European sensibilities of director Peter Kassovitz, it is still a moving and dramatic picture. (top) (back)

JASON X - D+
Starring:
Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Jonathan Potts, Dylan Bierk, Lisa Ryder, Chuck Campbell, Barna Moricz, Melody Johnson, Derwin Jordan
Directed by: James Isaac
Horror, 98 min (18A) (New Line, 2002)


As asinine and diluted as they became over countless sequels, at least horror series like Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street were worthwhile enterprises at some point. The same, however, can certainly not be said for Friday the 13th, which was an inept exercise in monotonous slasher gore back in 1980 and remains much the same now, only with the sexual exploitation turned down in favour of a low-grade Star Trek spin on the proceedings. The year is 2455 and masked man Jason Voorhees, a long way from his beginnings as a drowned boy at Crystal Lake summer camp, has just been removed from his cryogenic chamber by a group of nubile young scientists on a spaceship. Though a cut above the worst entries in this 10-part series (that would be Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan), this sequel squanders any opportunities at mixing sci-fi or Scream-style parody with terror, instead shamelessly swiping from the Alien films and mindlessly racing through all the typical slashing, gutting, beheading, gouging and impaling the personality-impaired Jason is known for. Hackwork posing as a flashy, techno-heavy thriller, Jason X is about as frightening as a hangnail. (top) (back)

JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK - B-
Starring:
Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Shannon Elizabeth, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Will Ferrell, Chris Rock, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter
Directed by:
Kevin Smith
Comedy, 104
min (18A) (Dimension, 2001)


You don't have to be a fan of Kevin Smith's previous four movies to enjoy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, but it would certainly help. Not only did the titular heroes appear in Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy and Dogma, but a sizeable chunk of the supporting cast are also holdovers from one film or another, which help explains why both Ben Affleck and Jason Lee have dual roles here. Following the surprising depth of Chasing Amy and controversy of Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob is Smith's throwaway adventure film, a piece of wink-wink comedy part Rat Race (wacky road hi-jinks) and part Scream 3 (an abundance of Hollywood in-jokes). The plot of the picture finds hard-core stoner Jay (Jason Mewes) and his quiet partner (Smith) traveling from New Jersey to Hollywood to stop production on a film based on their lives. Considering Jay's non-stop, non-PC prattle, there's an uncomfortable emphasis here on jokes about oral sex and homosexuality but, thankfully, the film really hits a nice groove when the duo reach Los Angeles, crammed as it is with cameos (Matt Damon, Jason Biggs, James Van Der Beek, Mark Hamill and Shannon Doherty) and raunchy movie parodies (Good Will Hunting, Planet of the Apes, Scooby-Doo).
(top) (back)


JEEPERS CREEPERS - C
Starring:
Justin Long, Gina Phillips, Jonathan Breck, Eileen Brennan, Patricia Belcher, Jon Beshara, Avis-Marie Barnes, Brandon Smith
Directed by:
Victor Salva
Horror, 90
min (18A) (United Artists, 2001)


Executive produced by Francis Ford Coppola, Jeepers Creepers opens strongly, telling the familiar but evocative story of a brother and sister who, traveling down an isolated highway, spot a hooded man (Jonathan Breck) dumping what appear to be dead bodies down a drainpipe. Of course, the siblings pull over to investigate, but the idiocy of the characters is overshadowed by the growing and subtle sense of menace courtesy of director Victor Salva (1995's Powder). It's not too long, however, before the quality of the film slips downward like a corpse down a pipe, with Salva destroying the picture's atmosphere of redneck doom in exchange for dull freak show visuals. It may have helped had the villain tied into the film's Texas Chain Saw Massacre setting, but he turns out to be yet another freaky, heavy-on-the-prosthetics horror movie ghoul, a rather sorry cross between Freddy Krueger, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Alien and Friday the 13th's Jason. As the leads, Justin Long and Gina Phillips (TV's Boston Public) basically do little more than gawk, scream, gawk, run and gawk some more, with their mouths open in disgust and shock so often you'd think they were trying to fight the monster with bad breath.
(top) (back)


JET BOY - B
Starring:
Dylan Walsh, Branden Nadon, Kelly Rowan, Jordan Weller, Carrie Schiffler, David LeReaney, Valerie Planche, Roy Neilson
Directed by:
David Schultz
Drama, 90
min (18A) (Universal, 2001)


Calgarian David Schultz, who has thus far spent most of his cinematic career doing by-the-numbers scripts for generic potboilers like One of Our Own (1998) and Silent Cradle (1997), finally gets a chance to show what he is made of with Jet Boy, his low-budget ($1.4 million) dream project about a lonely young street hustler. Newcomer Branden Nadon plays Nathan, a 13-year-old Calgary prostitute who, following the heroine overdose of his mother (Carrie Schiffler), hits the road to find the father he never knew. En route, he hitches a ride with Boon (Dylan Walsh), a down-on-his-luck loner on his way to a large drug deal in Vancouver. As these two lost souls slowly connect with each other and Boon gets in touch with his small-town roots (thanks to a former girlfriend played by Kelly Rowan), Jet Boy occasionally threatens to slide into overly familiar melodrama. Thankfully, however, Schultz's My Private Idaho-flavoured dialogue and documentary-like camerawork have a welcome grittiness lacking in the central story. Furthermore, Nadon is credible and touching as Nathan and Walsh (Nobody's Fool) is able to capably navigate the occasionally abrupt changes in attitude a mystery-man like Boon requires.
(top) (back)


JESUS' SON - B
Starring:  Billy Crudup, Samantha Morton, Denis Leary, Jack Black, Holly Hunter, Dennis Hopper, Will Patton, Greg Germann
Directed by: Alison MacLean
Drama, 108
min (14A) (Lions Gate, 2000)

The squalor that comes from a life on drugs gets a whole new perspective - more All About My Mother than Trainspotting - with this funny, tragic, quirky and compassionate junkie odyssey. Directed by Alison MacLean from a series of short stories by Denis Johnson, Jesus' Son tells the story of a frequently drug addled drifter (Billy Crudup) who basically wanders in and out of people's lives during a couple of years in the 1970s, most of the time following his dream girl, an emotional wreck played without a touch of inhibition by Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown). Considering the source material, it's hardly surprising that this gleefully non-linear and unpredictable film occasionally feels disjointed and strained. What is surprising - and completely welcome - is the humour that peeks through the story's pain and suffering. Much of this has to do with the energizing Crudup, who plays our dim hero with the perfect amount of confusion and charm. (top) (back)

JIMMY NEUTRON: BOY GENIUS -
B
Voices:
Debi Derryberry, Patrick Stewart, Martin Short, Rob Paulsen, Andrea Martin, Mark DeCarlo, Megan Cavanagh, Frank Welker
Directed by:
John Davis
Animated, 82 min (G) (Paramount, 2001)

With a zip that makes most traditional animated pictures seem about as fast-paced as The Green Mile, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius is obviously a product of the information age, a jet-fuelled piece of whiz-bang computer animation so busy it would hurt the senses if it wasn't so clever. A Nickelodeon production along the lines of The Rugrats, Jimmy Neutron chronicles the out-of-this-world adventure of its title character, an ingenious grade-schooler with Ace Ventura hair, an endless supply of inventive ideas and a low degree of popularity. But when an alien species known as the Yokians (with a leader voiced by Star Trek's Patrick Stewart) kidnap all of the adults in Jimmy's hometown, Neutron and his new allies are to the rescue. Smoothly directed by John Davis, Jimmy Neutron is overloaded with colour and child-appealing gizmos (bubble transporters, shrinking machines…) and there is an undeniable charm to the characters and their home (a Leave It To Beaver-style burg named Retroville). It's too bad the film doesn't have nearly the cross-generational appeal of Shrek or the Toy Story films (it comes up short in terms of adult-size in-jokes), but there is certainly enough wit and imagination to capture your children's attention. (top) (back)


JOE DIRT -
C-
Starring:
David Spade, Brittany Daniel, Dennis Miller, Erik Per Sullivan, Kid Rock, Christopher Walken, Jaime Pressly, Adam Beach
Directed by:
Dennie Gordon
Comedy, 91 min (PG) (Columbia TriStar, 2001)

Throughout his career, David Spade has specialized in playing smarmy smart-asses in everything from The Emperor's New Groove to TV's Just Shoot Me to his movie collaborations with Chris Farley. As a result, deluded superiority is something Spade is very good at (even if his material is sometimes lacking) and it is something one has come to expect from the former Saturday Night Live star. Unfortunately, however, blissful arrogance is in very short supply in Joe Dirt, a trashy white-trash comedy about a mullet-topped, AC/DC-lovin' orphan (Spade) who should have been played for biting laughs, but is instead portrayed as a good-hearted and exceedingly dull loser. To make matters worse, the film's storyline - in which Joe searches for the parents who abandoned him and recounts his life story to a sarcastic radio host (Dennis Miller) - makes the drastic mistake of reducing its protagonist to a hillbilly Forrest Gump and Spade's wit seems castrated, leaving only tepid toilet gags and uninspired subplots to move everything along (though, truth be told, there is one incest joke that is funnier than all of Say It Isn't So). Surprisingly, the best performance here is courtesy of Kid Rock, completely believable as an egotistical hick. (top) (back)

JOE GOULD'S SECRET - B+
Starring:  Ian Holm, Stanley Tucci, Hope Davis, Patricia Clarkson, Susan Sarandon, Steve Martin
Directed by: Stanley Tucci
Drama, 110
min (PG) (USA Films, 2000)

After the hit-and-miss slapstick comedy The Imposters, Stanley Tucci has found a pair of subjects – New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell and New York eccentric Joe Gould – that allows him to fulfill the promise of his smart directorial debut, Big Night. Set in an idealized Big Apple in the 1940s and adapted from Mitchell’s writings, Joe Gould’s Secret chronicles the friendship between Mitchell (Tucci) and Gould (Ian Holm), a homeless man equal parts madness and inspiration who claims to be writing an epic oral history of the common man. When Mitchell and Gould’s worlds collide, it proves fateful for Gould, whose delusions of grandeur grow increasingly beyond his grasp and out of control. As the film goes on, what was once a rather simple story takes on increasingly complex themes of friendship, bohemianism, isolation, and the creative process. Holm proves his gratefulness for being handed such a once-in-a-lifetime role by giving an exemplary performance full of rage, rambling, and poetic musings. (top) (back)

JOE SOMEBODY
- C
Starring:
Tim Allen, Julie Bowen, Kelly Lynch, James Belushi, Greg Germann, Patrick Warburton, Hayden Panettiere
Directed by:
John Pasquin
Comedy, 98 min (PG) (20th Century Fox, 2001)


Most frequent actor-director collaborations succeed because the two artists are able to feed off of one another's creative juices (think Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese or Tim Burton and Johnny Depp). In the case of Tim Allen and director John Pasquin, however, their joint efforts appear to be simply a matter of convenience since both men have shown a strong affinity to inoffensive, throwaway comedies. Joe Somebody is Allen and Pasquin's third collaboration after The Santa Clause (1994) and Jungle2Jungle (1997) and, as it turns out, the picture is as genial and disposable as they come. Here Allen plays Joe Scheffer, a middle-aged, divorced and often over-looked nobody who realizes bullies aren't confined to the schoolyard when he is humiliated by a co-worker (Patrick Warburton) in front of his 12-year-old daughter (Hayden Panettiere). When Joe decides to declare a rematch (with a little help from a martial arts instructor played by James Belushi), he suddenly becomes part of the (false) in-crowd. There's little drama in where Joe Somebody goes - it's not like they would promote fighting in a family film - but its the lack of real laughs that is far more detrimental to the film's success. In the end, this picture is as bland as any average Joe. (top) (back)

JOHN CARPENTER'S GHOSTS OF MARS - C-
Starring:
Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Jason Stratham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, Joanna Cassidy, Liam Waite, Richard Cetrone
Directed by:
John Carpenter
Horror, 98 min (18A) (Columbia Tristar, 2001)

Usually film directors aren't passionate about lousy work. That certainly isn't the case with John Carpenter who, as he did with the unnecessary Escape from L.A. and even more unnecessary Vampires, proudly puts his name in the title of this dull zombie flick set on the red planet. Natasha Henstridge (The Whole Nine Yards), who stepped into the lead after Courtney Love twisted her ankle, plays Melanie Ballard, a 22nd-century cop who's sent to a prison on the remote section of Mars to pick up an accused mass murderer (Ice Cube). Once there, she learns that the real killer is an extraterrestrial ghost that has taken control of the local miners and forced them to mutilate their own bodies and those of everyone who didn't fall under its spell. As in Pitch Black, the cops must then team up with the criminal in order to save their butts, but Ghosts of Mars lacks the invention and strong lead performance that made Pitch Black overcome the overfamiliarity of its material. The demons here are all about as scary as wannabe Marilyn Manson groupies and, though Carpenter shamelessly swipes from his own remake of The Thing (1982), the amateurish special effects and visuals pose for a major roadblock in creating any moments of sustained suspense. (top) (back)

JOHN Q. - C-
Starring:
Denzel Washington, Robert Duvall, James Woods, Anne Heche, Eddie Griffin, Ray Liotta, Kimberly Elise, Shawn Hatosy
Directed by:
Nick Cassavetes
Suspense, 118 min (14A) (New Line, 2002)

The appearance of Ray Liotta isn't the only thing John Q. has in common with 1992's Article 99. Like that medical picture, John Q. is less of a compelling drama than a button-pushing sermon about how bureaucracy and health care don't mix (tell me something I don't know). Denzel Washington, fresh of his Oscar-winning work in Training Day, does his best to redeem the unbelievable and heavy handed material, but even he fails to bring much of this picture to life. Directed by Nick Cassavetes (son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands) as if he has a score to settle, John Q. casts Washington as John Archibald, a hard-working, church-going, honest father and husband who hits a brick wall when his 9-year-old son (Daniel E. Smith) suddenly requires a heart transplant and his HMO refuses to pay for the $250,000 operation. After John fruitlessly tries to work his way through the red tape, he does what any loving father would do and, at gunpoint, takes over the emergency room at the hospital. Problem is, everyone involved in the crisis - including Robert Duvall's sympathetic hostage negotiator and Anne Heche's ice-cube cold administrator - is an outright stereotype, with the film going so far as to practically depict all figures of power as cartoon villains. (top) (back)


JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS - C-
Starring:
Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, Rosario Dawson, Alan Cumming, Parker Posey, Paulo Castanzo, Gabriel Mann, Seth Green
Directed by:
Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont
Comedy, 99
min (PG) (Universal, 2001)

Just because a movie is based on a comic strip doesn't mean the characters should all be composed of cardboard. That's the lesson to be drawn from this far from purr-fect comedy, an adaptation of the Archie spin-off comic book and cartoon from the '70s that wants to be another Charlie's Angels, but instead settles for sub-Spice World hi-jinks (not that Charlie's Angels is even an unattainable high to begin with). Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid and Rosario Dawson are the title characters, members of a struggling all-girl band from Riverdale who become pawns in the teenage-mind-controlling plans of two manipulative record execs (Parker Posey and Alan Cumming). Snappy character actors Posey and Cumming (Cook's costar in Get Carter) add some bite to the action and there is a good boy-band parody at the beginning of the story, but the screenplay by codirectors Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (Can't Hardly Wait) doesn't understand the difference between parodying the shallowness of our quick-bite pop culture and simply indulging in it. Besides, there is no hiding the fact that, as characters, Josie and her pussycats are flaccid, two-dimensional creations that make pop stars like Britney and Christina seem complex in comparison. (top)

JOY RIDE - B
Starring:
Paul Walker, Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski, Ted Levine, Jessica Bowman, Stuart Stone, Basil Wallace, Rachel Singer
Directed by:
John Dahl
Suspense, 106
min (14A) (20th Century Fox, 2001)

Road rage takes on a whole new meaning with Joy Ride, a gripping suspense film in the tradition of Steven Spielberg's Duel (1971) that serves as a friendly reminder that menaces on the open road can be far more frightening than the usual monotonous mutant freaks Hollywood typically serves up (Anyone up for another Jeepers Creepers?). Directed with an impressive sense of terror by John Dahl (1994's The Last Seduction), Joy Ride casts Steve Zahn and Paul Walker (hitting the highway again after The Fast and the Furious) as brothers driving across the country who, using a CB radio, make the mistake of playing a practical joke on a truck driver (Ted Levine) who begins terrorizing the boys. As Joy Ride proceeds, Dahl skillfully balances suspense with humour, making excellent use of Zahn's established skills as comic relief, and he wisely keeps the stakes high, frequently throwing the characters - and the audience - for a loop. Once Leelee Sobieski joins the ride as Walker's long-time friend, the film hits a few bumps in the road, but much of this is attributable to the fact that Dahl was unable to find a suitably thrilling conclusion to the picture, eventually making the psychopathic trucker far too omnipotent for the film's own good. (top) (back)

THE JUNGLE BOOK 2 - C+
Starring:
Haley Joel Osment, John Goodman, Phil Collins, Tony Jay, Jim Cummings, John Rhys-Davies
Directed by: Steve Trenbirth
Animated, 86 min (G) (Walt Disney, 2003)


The problem with the overwhelming majority of quickie Disney sequels is that most of the classic stories are closed-ended and, in order to keep the franchise going, the sequel either just recycles the original story (as in Return to Neverland and Lady and the Tramp II) or feebly reverses the situation (as in Little Mermaid II and Pocahontas II). The Jungle Book 2, a minor theatrical release, combines both of these approaches - man-club Mowgli (now voiced by Haley Joel Osmet) returns to the jungle he left in the 1967 original and once again pays around with Baloo the Bear (John Goodman) and battles ruthless tiger Shere Khan - and the result is a decidedly tame and unnecessary affair. Replacing the browns and shadows of the delightful original film with bright Saturday morning cartoon-style animation, Jungle Book 2 is hampered by drab story-telling and a series of mediocre songs (on the plus side, Goodman makes a dandy Baloo and hypnotizing snake Kaa is still good for a few laughs). More than anything, though, the film is overwhelmed by a sense of pointlessness, particularly since the filmmakers couldn't even be bothered to come up with some interesting new characters or conflicts to add to the mix. (top) (back)

JURASSIC PARK III - C+
Starring:
Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Jeter, Trevor Morgan, Laura Dern, Bruce A. Young
Directed by:
Joe Johnston
Suspense, 93 min (PG) (Universal, 2001)

When Steven Spielberg unleashed the first Jurassic Park in 1993, the computer-generated dinosaurs were captured with the magic and awe of a child finally getting to watch mystical creatures come wonderfully to life. Less than a decade later, however, digital dinos have become rather routine and, though Jurassic Park III is an improvement over 1997's rote The Lost World: Jurassic Park II, it is still a rather routine adventure. Competently directed by Joe Johnston (Jumanji, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids) but lacking Spielberg's theme-park dazzle, the film brings back Sam Neill (he passed on The Lost World) as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant, by now widely acknowledged as a expert on the islands overrun by genetically engineered dinosaurs. Alan is hired by a divorced couple (William H. Macy, Tea Leoni) to help them rescue their son from the island, but the storyline is really little more than an excuse to serve up more dino-snacks and all the usual prehistoric suspects. Wisely, Johnston keeps the film at a lean-and-mean 92 minutes, ensuring one's attention never lingers, but it also seems as though about that much time was spent on the script, with all of the actors basically going through the motions and the inventiveness of the original almost extinct. (top) (back)

JUST MARRIED - C-
Starring:
Ashton Kutcher, Brittany Murphy, Christian Kane, Taran Killam, Monet Mazur, David Rasche, David Moscow, Thad Luckinbill
Directed by: Shawn Levy
Comedy, 95 min (PG) (Fox, 2003)


An inspired doofus on TV's That '70s Show, Ashton Kutcher hasn't had much success in films, with his credits including such atrocities as Down to You (2000) and Texas Rangers (2001). Even 2000's Dude, Where's My Car?, though a box office hit, was an all-out dud that made Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure look like high-class cinema. With Just Married, Kutcher continues his losing streak, fumbling around in an inert and helplessly inept wannabe screwball romantic comedy about a mismatched couple - Kutcher is an average twenty-something male, Brittany Murphy is a spoiled rich girl - who get married and head to Europe for a disastrous honeymoon. Kutcher and Murphy have chemistry together, but the screenplay and director Shawn Levy (2002's Big Fat Liar) are extremely limited with regards to variety in the comic mishaps the couple are exposed to, with a lot of falling through walls, getting feet stuck in small spaces, smacks in the head and the typical international clashes (tiny cars, those pesky European plugs…). Even worse, the film isn't content to just stick to the adventures of Americans in another country, eventually tossing in a laboured subplot involving Murphy's ex. It's not worth getting Married. (top) (back)

JUST VISITING - C-
Starring: Jean Reno, Christian Clavier, Christina Applegate, Matthew Ross, Bridgette Wilson, Malcolm McDowell, Tara Reid, George Plimpton
Directed by:
Jean-Marie Poire
Comedy, 88
min (PG) (Hollywood Pictures, 2001)

When it comes to many Hollywood updates of foreign films, it is entirely expected that something will be lost in the translation. In the case of Just Visiting, a revamp of the 1993 French hit Les Visiteurs, however, it is difficult to imagine any cinematic magic ever coming out of this fromage, no matter what language it is in. Americanized with the assistance of Home Alone's John Hughes, Just Visiting has the same director and lead actors as Les Visiteurs, telling the story of a 12th-century knight (The Professional's Jean Reno) who, along with his numbskull servant (co-writer Christian Clavier), time-travels to Chicago and meets up with a modern descendant (Christina Applegate) in his quest to get home. All the usual gags get pounded into the ground - cars are mistaken for metal beasts, toilets for sinks, perfume for soap, urinal cakes for food - and, worst of all, they are all presented with a minimum amount of wit or enthusiasm and a maximum amount of unnecessary set-up. Of course, there are also lessons about tolerance, understanding and standing up for yourself, but they only further weaken the film's predictable humour. On the plus side, at least Just Visiting is a better fish-out-of-water comedy than Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. (top) (back)

JUWANNA MANN - C-
Starring:
Miguel A. Nunez Jr, Vivica A. Fox, Kim Wayans, Kevin Pollak, Tommy Davidson, Lil' Kim, Ginuwine
Directed by: Jesse Vaughan
Comedy, 91 min (PG) (Warner Bros., 2002)


With this drag comedy, the Tootsie formula gets a new layer of makeup, but in no way does that mean Juwanna Mann is any less ugly than Sorority Boys, the last sorry film to make a face plant after strapping on some high heels. Miguel A. Nunez, Jr., who donned women's clothes in 1999's Life and was last seen as a voodoo man in Scooby-Doo, plays Jamal, an arrogant pro basketball player put on suspension for bad behaviour and left broke. Frustrated, he puts on a wig and some falsies to become Juwanna Mann, the new star of the all-female WUBA basketball league. Even looking past the fact that Juwanna is clearly a man (Wouldn't someone in the media notice that this "girl" has an Adam's apple? Or that she looks exactly like Jamal in a wig? Or that she shares his address and agent?), Juwanna Mann is pretty hoary material, with director Jesse Vaughan tripping over all the usual man-in-woman's-clothing clichés - peeking at naked parts in the shower, sharing heart-to-hearts with a beautiful woman (Vivica A. Fox) and finally understanding where they are coming from, facing a troublesome physical exam - and super-lame supporting characters like a toothless rap caricature named Puff Smokey Smoke (Tommy Davidson). (top) (back)
All reviews by Mike Boon.  

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