ARCHIVED REVIEWS (Ri-Rz)

Ride With the Devil
Riding in Cars With Boys
Ring, the
Road Home, the
Road to El Dorado, the
Road to Perdition
Road Trip
Rock Star
Rollerball
Romeo Must Die
Rookie, the
Royal Tenenbaums, the
Rugrats in Paris
Rules of Attraction, the
Rules of Engagement
Runaway Bride
Rush Hour 2

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Archived Video Reviews (Ri - Rz)
 

RIDE WITH THE DEVIL - B-
Starring: Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire, Jewel, Jonathan Rhys-Myers, Jeffrey Wright, Jim Caviezel, Tom Wilkinson, Jonathan Brandis
Directed by: Ang Lee
Drama, 139 min (14A) (Universal, 1999)

It's got a perfectly capable cast and a proven director (The Ice Storm's Ang Lee), but Ride With the Devil nonetheless remains a rather remote affair. In depicting the American Civil war through the eyes of a group of pro-South bushwackers - including the son of a poor German immigrant (Tobey Maguire), the son of a rich plantation owner (Skeet Ulrich), a former slave (Jeffrey Wright) and a frisky war widow (singer Jewel) - the film all too often meanders around the map, failing to bring much excitement or emotional involvement to the proceedings. That said, there is still much to appreciate about Ride With the Devil, not the least of which is Lee's clear-eyed perspective on the fiery issues that first ignited the war. Baby-faced Maguire and Johnny Depp-clone Ulrich give adequate performers, but the two most mentioning here are Wright - who brings just the right amount of tension and dignity to a role that could have easily been a cliché - and, surprisingly, Jewel, who shows promise in her acting debut. (top) (back)

RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS - C+
Starring:
Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, James Woods, Lorraine Bracco, Adam Garcia, Sara Gilbert, Mika Boorem, Rosie Perez
Directed by:
Penny Marshall
Drama, 131 min (PG) (Columbia Tristar, 2001)


There are a lot of bumps in the road to success for this soft-touch adaptation of the 1990 autobiographical novel by Beverly Donofrio and the edge-free, sentiment-heavy direction by Penny Marshall (A League of Our Own) can easily shoulder much of the blame. Drew Barrymore, unconvincingly asked to age from 15 to 35, plays Beverly, a 1960s teenager whose future plans of attending college and becoming a successful writer are derailed when she becomes pregnant in high school. Not surprisingly, this becomes the defining point of Bev's life and future struggles and, for all of the self-pity going on, Barrymore is still able to establish a certain degree of the frustration and helplessness that is needed for the character to earn our sympathy. That said, Barrymore is blown out of the water every step of the way here by Steve Zahn (Joy Ride), whose complex performance as the loser father of Bev's son is a bittersweet marvel and outshines everything else in the picture. Ultimately, however, neither actor is done any favours by Marshall's cut-and-paste approach to the story. Awkwardly jumping from cute comedy to serious family drama and then back again whenever the going gets tough, Riding takes almost enough turns to make you car sick. (top) (back)

THE RING - C+
Starring:
Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox, Daveigh Chase, Shannon Cochrane, Lindsay Frost, Richard Lineback, Amber Tamblyn
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Horror, 114 min (14A) (Dreamworks, 2002)


Imagine a videotape so sinister and deadly that anyone who watches it dies in seven days. No, it isn't Master of Disguise or Stealing Harvard, but it is the basis for The Ring, a remake of the 1998 Japanese hit Ringu that fancies itself as a media-age ghost tale but is ultimately revealed to be little more than empty smoke and mirrors. Mulholland Drive's captivating Naomi Watts plays Rachel Keller, a reporter who decides to investigate this so-called death tape after her niece dies mysteriously, with the search leading her to a reunion with her ex (Martin Henderson) and flickering images of dead horses, bugs, a woman in a mirror and a glowing ring. Throughout The Ring, director Gore Verbinski (The Mexican) keeps the Blair Witch-inspired visuals to a slow boil, leaving the viewer to wait patiently for a payoff, but ultimately nothing here connects with any sense of reason, not the origin of the video, not the mysterious visions, not Rachel's research, and not her spooky son (David Dorfman), a Haley Joel Osment-wannabe who tastes far too much like warmed-over Sixth Sense. If you bought into this spooky silliness, answer me this question: just who was on the phone and what was up with the photographs? (top) (back)

THE ROAD HOME - B+
Starring:
Zhang Ziyi, Sun Honglei, Zheng Hao, Zhao Yuelin, Li Bin
Directed by:
Zhang Yimou
Drama, 89 min
(G) (Sony Pictures Classics, 1999/2001)

Before she kicked butt in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and, to a lesser extent, as one of the villains in Rush Hour 2, Zhang Ziyi made her feature debut with this elegant and uncomplicated Chinese-language story about love and understanding. She may have ponytails instead of weapons, giggles instead of anger, but even here, Zhang's ease with the camera and destiny for future success is obvious. Bookended with stark black-and-white scenes set in the present, The Road Home outlines the love that grew between a school teacher from the city (Zheng Hao) and a beautiful village girl (Zhang), who fell for the stranger at first sight. Though their relationship is surprisingly simple - you won't find any big "surprise" revelations here, no moments of life and death - there's a real charm that accompanies watching budding love at this pure and innocent, complete with moments of heart-breaking patience and dignity. Chinese director Zhang Yimou does go a little heavy on the shots of the young woman running, walking and waiting on the road into her village but, for the most part, he doesn't waste any time, focusing primarily on palatable emotions, the richly coloured visuals of the past, well-developed characters and his beauty of a lead
. (top)

THE ROAD TO EL DORADO - B-
Starring the voices of:
Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, Rosie Perez, Armand Assante, Edward James Olmos
Directed by:
Don Paul and Eric Bergeron
Animated, 89 min (PG) (DreamWorks, 2000)

Inspired by the seven Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road movies made between 1940 and 1962 (Road to Rio, Road to Singapore...), this DreamWorks animated picture wants little more than to provide a knee-slapping, rollicking good time and, for the most part, it succeeds. Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh - clearly having fun - supply the voices for Tulio and Miguel, Spanish con men who, through sheer luck and coincidence, wind up locating Mexico's fabled City of Gold. Their little adventure is peppered with plenty of wisecracks and winking one-liners, but directors Don Paul and Eric Bergeron are often unable to keep up the quick pace needed for such a story. As well, one's attention lags every time the film lapses into a forgettable, interchangeable tune by Elton John and Tim Rice (The Lion King) and the film's villain - a grouchy high priest - is utterly one dimensional and far too reminiscent of Aladdin's Jafar and The Lion King's Scar. (top) (back)

ROAD TO PERDITION - B+
Starring:
Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Tyler Hoechlin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci, Liam Aiken, Daniel Craig
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Drama, 117 min (14A) (Dreamworks, 2002)


When you peel them down to the core, mobster movies are essentially pictures about family - figuratively and literally. Director Sam Mendes already earned significant acclaim and an Oscar for his family portrait American Beauty (1999) and he does a terrific job at finding many shades of gray in Road to Perdition, an ambitious and hauntingly poetic gangster saga/family drama. Tom Hanks, not the type of actor usually seen carrying a tommy gun, gives a thoughtful and deep performance as Michael Sullivan, a Depression-era hitman who hits the road with his 12-year-old boy (Tyler Hoechlin) for safety and vengeance after his wife and youngest son are murdered by the jealous son of Sullivan's boss (an unequaled, Oscar-nominated Paul Newman). On Sullivan's trail - aside from the crushing weight of responsibility for his son and respect he has for Newman's character - is Maguire, a crime photographer played by Jude Law with rotting teeth and no shred of conscience. In adapting a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins for the screen, Mendes hits an unconvincing sympathetic note in the final scene, but he makes full use of the splendid cinematography by the late, Oscar-winning Conrad L. Hall and his stellar cast. (top) (back)

ROAD TRIP - C+
Starring: Breckin Meyer, Seann William Scott, Amy Smart, Tom Green, Paulo Costanzo, DJ Qualls, Rachel Blanchard, Fred Ward

Directed by:
Todd Phillips
Comedy, 94 min
(14A) (DreamWorks, 2000)

It's strictly the middle of the road for this genial teen comedy, a throwback to the days of Animal House and Porky's that is neither as outrageous nor as risqué as it purports to be. Breckin Meyer plays a likeable college student who accidentally sends a videotape of himself with another woman (Amy Smart) to his longtime long-distance girlfriend (Rachel Blanchard). In desperation, he sets off with a couple of friends (and a nerd with a car) to try and intercept the mail. Along the way, they encounter all sorts of strange characters and learn something about themselves, but Road Trip plays it too safe to really aim for any original, inspired comedy. It's not that there isn't any laughs along the group's journey - MTV comedian Tom Green is especially funny as an awkward man-child - there just isn't much here that hasn't been seen before in similar flicks like American Pie and There's Something About Mary. My advice for director Todd Phillips: next time, take the road less traveled. (top) (back)

ROCK STAR - C+
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Timothy Olyphant, Jason Bonham, Jason Flemyng, Zakk Wylde
Directed by: Stephen Herek
Comedy, 106 min
(14A) (Warner Bros., 2001)

Having previously explored the fine mental tunings of '80s metalheads in 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, director Stephen Herek returns to the word of AC/DC, Poison and Slayer with this overly familiar cautionary tale. Set in the mid-'80s, Rock Star casts Mark Wahlberg (once known as rap star Marky Mark) as Chris Cole, a photocopier repairman and the detail-obsessed lead singer in a "tribute band" for (fictional) metal rockers Steel Dragon. But when the lead singer of Steel Dragon leaves the group over issues of sexual politics, it is die-hard fan Chris who gets the chance to leap from obscurity and front the band (the story's resemblance to the history of Judas Priest is not accidental). At this point, Herek should have taken a comedic look at what happens when a dream becomes a reality, but it isn't long before the film starts to resemble every other rags to rock-riches story and the light humour generated by the time period gets deflated by the blunt dialogue and jerky story structure. Friends' Jennifer Aniston isn't given much to do in a supporting role as Chris' long-time girlfriend/manager, but Wahlberg's winning and likeable lead performance is a nice apology for his stiff-as-a-palm tree work in Planet of the Apes. (top) (back)

ROLLERBALL - D
Starring:
Chris Klein, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Jean Reno, Naveen Andrews, Paul Heyman, Shane McMahon, Kata Dobo, Pink
Directed by:
John McTiernan
Action, 98 min
(14A) (MGM, 2002)

Norman Jewison's 1975 cult picture Rollerball was never all that great, but it is The English Patient compared to this bone-headed remake, a clueless extreme sports/thriller hybrid in which there seems to be a competition between the acting, screenwriting and directing to see which can be worst (in the end, screenwriting wins by a nose). Seemingly doing an impression of Keanu Reeves at his most bored, Chris Klein plays Jonathan, a failed athlete who is recruited for a WWF-meets-hockey-meets-Roller Derby-meets-S&M "sport" popular in second and third world countries. But when Jonathan and other members of his team (including LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) realize that their Russian boss (Jean Reno) is purposefully ratcheting up the violence for ratings, they decide to take matters into their own hands. As directed by John McTiernan (The 13th Warrior), however, the film never amounts to more than a series of indecipherable action scenes, with the Rollerball games taking up more of the running time than something like a plot and an extended sequences shot - who knows why? - entirely in night vision. Even worse, they film often revels it the same sadism and violence it purports to be against. Talk about dropping the ball
. (top)

ROMEO MUST DIE - C+
Starring:
Jet Li, Aaliyah, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, Anthony Anderson, Francoise Yip, DMX, Henry O
Directed by: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Action, 114 min (14A) (Warner Bros., 2000)


In his first starring role in an American movie, Hong Kong superstar Jet Li kicks serious butt as he maneuvers his way through a gangland war zone. Spinning through the air, bouncing off walls and using his surroundings for all their bone-shattering potential, Li comes across as everything Jackie Chan would be if he weren’t so goofy (not that there is anything wrong with that). Where Romeo Must Die fails to live up to Li’s skills is in the story department, with a far-too-elaborate and confusing tale about the war between black and Asian gangs, real estate and something to do with the NFL. Li’s character becomes embroiled in the fighting when his brother is killed and he befriends the black crimelord’s only daughter (R&B singer Aaliyah, in a fresh acting debut), but Li and Aaliyah have zero chemistry and, despite all the efficient action scenes and driving hip-hop soundtrack, the wooden dialogue and plot-hole ridden story are unforgiving. (top) (back)

THE ROOKIE - B
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Brian Cox, Beth Grant, Jay Hernandez, Angus T. Jones, Chad Lindberg, Angelo Spizziri
Directed by:
John Lee Hancock
Drama, 129 min (G) (Walt Disney, 2002)


An unfortunate rarity these days, The Rookie is a welcome throwback to a simpler time in which live-action family films weren't all the rude and crude See Spot Runs and Snow Dogs we've come to expect. In this chick-flick-for-men sports drama that actually comes equipped with a G rating, Dennis Quaid trades in his Any Given Sunday and Everybody's All American football uniforms for the baseball cleats of Jim Morris, a small town Texas teacher and long-time dreamer who, after making a bet with his school's team, tried out for the minors again and, at the age of 35, became the oldest newcomer to hit the Major Leagues. Director John Lee Hancock tells this uncomplicated true story with a real dose of humanity and, as a result, many moments of music-soaring manipulation (and there are plenty of them here) are forgivable and surprisingly affecting. It would have been nice had the film not gone into so many extra innings (or if there had been even one unlikable character), but thanks to Hancock's good-natured feel for the story and an honest and convincing performance by Quaid (well matched by Rachel Griffiths as Morris' supportive wife), The Rookie comes out swinging as a good, clean family film worth rooting for. (top) (back)

THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS - A-
Starring:
Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, Bill Murray
Directed by:
Wes Anderson
Comedy, 109 min (14A) (Touchstone, 2001)


The films of Wes Anderson and his co-writer Owen Wilson - including Bottle Rocket (1996), the gratifying Rushmore (1998) and this gem of a comedy - always seem to exist in a world just to the left of reality, a nostalgic universe packed with cozy, fantastic little details and eccentric, deeply represented characters. A marvel of performance and wit, The Royal Tenenbaums casts Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston as a long-separated couple who once shared great wealth and three child-prodigy offspring. Hackman's character was never much of a father, but now that he is penniless and his children have matured into morose and emotionally lost adults, he decides it is time to reconnect with his family. The story allows Hackman to give one of the best, most surprising and subversive performances of his illustrious career, and he gets sprightly support from the likes of Ben Stiller (a child tycoon-turned-overprotective father), Gwyneth Paltrow (the family's adopted playwright daughter), Luke Wilson (a former tennis star), and Bill Murray (playing Paltrow's cuckolded husband). As good as they all are, though, the real star here is the screenplay, which is as droll, quirky and delightfully distinctive as the film's Dalmatian mice. (top) (back)

RUGRATS IN PARIS: THE MOVIE - B
Starring:
Cheryl Chase, E.G. Daily, Christine Cavanaugh, Melanie Chartoff, Susan Sarandon, John Lithgow, Cree Summer
Directed by:
Stig Bergguist, Paul Demeyer
Animated, 78 min (G) (Paramount, 2000)

Just say "Oui Oui" to this tres amusing animated adventure, the second full-length feature to spring from the popular Nickelodeon cartoon series about a group of neighborhood toddlers who crack pee-pee and poo-poo jokes while getting involved in all sorts of adventures. This time around, the gang is off to Europe and our diaper-clad heroes have to do their best to stop the father of neurotic Chuckie from marrying a child-loathing French woman (voiced by Susan Sarandon at her most theatrical). Unlike 1998's frantically overplotted Rugrats Movie, Rugrats in Paris is able to easily adapt the babies' charm for the big screen, reveling in booger and barf jokes for the kids and tossing in some terrific movie parodies (The Godfather, Lady and the Tramp, King Kong) for their parents. Rugrats in Paris does go overboard with its robotic monster climax and it doesn't have nearly the sophistication of, say, Disney's Tarzan, but there is no denying the appeal of the film's colourful energy, adorable characters and clever screenplay. (top) (back)

THE RULES OF ATTRACTION - C
Starring:
James Van Der Beek, Shannyn Sossamon, Ian Somerhalder, Kip Pardue, Jessica Biel, Kate Bosworth, Thomas Ian Nicholas
Directed by: Roger Avary
Drama, 110 min (18A) (Lions Gate, 2002)


I'm all for pretty actors like James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek), Jessica Biel (7th Heaven) and Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) trying to breakout of their TV molds by getting down and dirty, but why did they - along with several other familiar young actors - have to do so with The Rules of Attraction, an energetic but utterly wasted drama that unfolds like a drawn-out hangover? Based on a nihilistic novel by Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho), The Rules of Attraction features a falsely strutting and posing Van Der Beek as Sean Bateman, brother of American Psycho's Patrick Bateman and a genuinely unlikable drug-dealing student/creep with the hots for the virginal Lauren (40 Days and 40 Nights' vapid Shannyn Sossamon). Meanwhile, Lauren wants to lose herself to Victor (Driven's Kip Pardue), a womanizing stud currently on the loose in Europe, and Lauren's ex (Ian Somerhalder) wants to score with Sean. It's all hopelessly convoluted - writer-director Roger Avary's pointless rapid-rewind flashbacks don't help - and the exploitative tone, entirely unsympathetic characters and whining dialogue do nothing to serve the film's could-have-been-interesting message about the impersonality and wasteland that is modern college life. (top) (back)

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT - C+
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Guy Pearce, Philip Baker Hall, Blair Underwood, Anne Archer, Ben Kingsley
Directed by: William Friedkin
Drama, 127
min (14A) (Paramount, 2000)

Tommy Lee Jones and a smoldering Samuel L. Jackson rise above the material in this legal/military drama that should have posed some serious questions about what it means to go to war and choices that have to be made in the midst of bullets. Instead, though, the film sticks to shopworn A Few Good Men-style histrionics, never truly engaging the audience thanks to a screenplay lacking both passion and mystery. Certainly not helping matters is William Friedkin's drab and unimaginative direction. Instead of establishing his story with blurry lines and unknown motives, Friedkin lets everything unfold linearly and obviously, sucking the film dry with regards to any possible tension. It's too bad too because, as a retired Marine lawyer who must defend a longtime friend and colleague (Jackson) from a war-related crime that left unarmed women and children dead, Jones gives one of his most understated performances in years. (top) (back)

RUNAWAY BRIDE - B-
Starring: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Hector Elizondo, Rita Wilson, Paul Dooley, Christopher Meloni, Laurie Metcalf
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Comedy, 116 min (PG) (
Paramount, 1999)

The queen of the romantic comedy (Julia Roberts) reunites with her Pretty Woman prince (Richard Gere) and prime minister (Garry Marshall) for this lively and pleasant picture, an exercise in charm that may not be as clever as Roberts' recent Notting Hill, but will no doubt appeal to much of the same crowd that fell for Pretty Woman almost a decade ago. Roberts, playing off her own reputation for having a phobia for commitment, has a flirty mischievousness here as Maggie, a small-town girl whose habit of leaving men at the altar and upcoming fourth attempt at tying the knot has drawn the attentions of a big-city journalist (Richard Gere). Given the stars involved, it is easy to see where this is going, but Gere gives his most relaxed performance in years by using his vanity for comic effect and director Marshall, who drowned in sap in pictures like The Other Sister and Dear God, wisely offsets the more preposterous elements of the story with a strong supporting cast led by the invaluable Joan Cusack. (top) (back)

RUSH HOUR 2 - B-
Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Roselyn Sanchez, Alan King, Harris Yulin, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Comedy, 91 min
(PG) (New Line, 2001)

The first Rush Hour (1998) was an inconsequential but competent buddy-cop movie, with much of its entertainment value springing directly from its two stars - Hong Kong action hero/goofball comic Jackie Chan and whiny Chris Rock-wannabe Chris Tucker. Rush Hour 2 ushers in much of the same traffic, perfectly content to stick to what clicked the first time around and freshening up the stale script with the addition of two fiery actresses - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Zhang Ziyi, who isn't given enough to do as a hit-lady but is riveting nonetheless, and Roselyn Sanchez as a sexy mystery women. This time around, it is Tucker's chance to be the fish-out-of-water, with the comedian's LAPD detective traveling to Hong Kong for a vacation with Chan's cop but ending up in hot water when the two of them begin investigating an international crime-ring. As before, Chan charms, Tucker purposefully irritates and director Brett Ratner almost randomly staples everything together to see what works. That said, though, formula isn't always a bad thing and Rush Hour 2, for all its shortcomings, still makes for a pleasant and often funny parade of non-PC jokes (the strongest of which seem improvised) and relatively efficient action sequences. (top) (back)
All reviews by Mike Boon.  

Looking for more? Visit Recent Video Releases, Recommended Releases or the following Archived Video sections: Aa-Am, An-Az, Ba-Be, Bf-Bn, Bo-Bz, Ca-Ch, Ci-Cz, Da-Dn, Do-Dz, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, Ma-Mn, Mo-Mz, N, O, P-Q, Ra-Rh, Ri-Rz, Sa-Sg, Sh-Sl, Sm-Ss, St-Sz, Ta-Ti, Tj-Tz, U-V, W, X-Z