A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ

List of "P" Movies

Pacific Heights (1990) R thriller

Michael Keaton stars as a total jerk who uses legal technicalities to stay in an apartment without having to pay rent. Landlords Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine would love to throw him out, but whenever they try, Keaton uses the court to send them deeper down their hole of distress. It's an exciting film that should please most everybody. Starring: Melanie Griffith, Matthew Modine, Michel Keaton, Mako, Nobu McCarthy, Laurie Metcalf, Carl Lumbly, Dorian Harewood, Luca Bercovici, Tippi Hedren, Shelia McCarthy, Beverly D'Angelo. Directed by: John Schlesinger. B+

The Pacifier (2005) PG comedy

Even though this is a bad movie by definition, it's surprisingly more entertaining than not. Vin Diesel, already at his self-parodying stage, stars as a tough military man who faces an assignment that is more challenging than ever before: babysitting four kids. The plot is as predictable as ever, but some of the over-the-top comedy works in spite of itself and Carol Kane's brief presence in this movie is howl-inducing. Starring: Vin Diesel, Lauren Graham, Faith Ford, Brittany Snow, Max Thieriot, Chris Potter, Morgan York, Scott Thompson, Carol Kane, Brad Garrett, Denis Akiyama, Tsui Mung-Ling. Directed by: Adam Shankman. C

Pack Strap Swallow (2005) NR (R-equivalent) documentary

There was a lot of promise in this documentary about five women in an Ecuadorian prison for drug trafficking, but the lack of a tactful message marred the effort considerably. Certainly the subject matter was interesting. The women are from Europe, South Africa or the US, and they are in prison because they put their trust in men. There were so many profound directions that this could have taken, but it failed. Directed by: Holly Paige Joyner. D+

Paint Your Wagon (1969) PG musical/western

It's always tragic when Hollywood casts big name actors in celebrated musicals without regarding their abilities to sing. The Lerner & Lowe songs are wonderful, but Lee Marvin comes off hopelessly pitchy, and Clint Eastwood is no natural, either. (Eastwood, to his credit, at least seems to have been studious with the vocal coach.) Clearly, this would have been better off adapted into a non-musical western. And even then, it could have used a little fat-trimming for length. The film begins with a tragic wagon crash that kills one person and severely injures the other (Eastwood). Upon burial, gold is discovered in the grave, and Rumson (Marvin) quickly stakes his claim. Rumson and the crash survivor quickly form a business partnership. Rumson calls him "Pardner," in lieu of asking him his real name. Despite my complaints about this film, I find it fairly engaging on the whole. When the two leads aren't singing, they are fun to watch as always, particularly Marvin who's able to hone into that amusingly drunk character that landed him the Oscar in Cat Ballou. Starring: Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, Harve Presnell, Ray Walston, Tom Ligon, Alan Dexter, William O'Connell, Benny Baker. Directed by: Joshua Logan. C

Pale Rider (1985) R western

Clint Eastwood stars in this better-than-average western about a rich and powerful man who violently attempts to remove a village of gold diggers against their will to get at the quantities of gold they're sitting under. He would have succeeded if it wasn't for Clint Eastwood who suddenly showed his face in town one day as a mean-looking preacher who inspires these villagers to fight it out. Starring: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Christopher Penn, Richard Dysart, Sydney Penny, Richard Kiel, Doug McGrath, John Russell. Directed by: Clint Eastwood. B

The Pallbearer (1996) PG-13 comedy

A quasi-riff on The Graduate but with a morbid twist. It's also not nearly as good, but you can't have everything. David Schwimmer stars as Tom Thompson, a 20-something who still lives at home with his mother (Carol Cane). He gets a curious phone call from a woman named Ruth (Barbara Hershey) who has some bad news: Her son, Bill, had committed suicide, and she wants him to speak at his funeral. That's an odd request considering that Tom doesn't even remember Bill, even though he acknowledges that they went to the same high school. But Ruth insists that Bill considered Tom his best friend. So, out of sympathy, he obliges. But it turns out this good deed doesn't necessarily go unrewarded: he reconnects with his high school crush Julie (Gwyneth Paltrow), and they get a relationship going. But he also allows himself be seduced by Ruth. This is a serviceable comedy-drama that's just interesting enough to hold my attention. The dialogue is smart, and the cast is fairly impressive, but I found myself wishing that the characters were more richly drawn out. Starring: David Schwimmer, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Rapaport, Barbara Hershey, Carol Kane, Toni Collette, Michael Vartan. Directed by: Matt Reeves. C+

The Palm Beach Story (1942) NR comedy

A very dated comedy, but itís rather entertaining nonetheless. Claudette Colbert stars in this romp as a flimsy damsel who figures sheís too delicate for her financially struggling husband (Joel McCrea) and decides to flee him and find a millionaire (she eventually finds wealthy good-boy Rudy Valee). Meanwhile, McCrea wasnít ready to leave his wife, and he has to try to win her back (all the while pretending heís Colbertís sister). Silly plot. Probably was hilarious in its day. Not too funny now. But still entertaining. Thatís all I have to say about that. Starring: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Rudy Valee, Sig Arno, Robert Warwick, Arthur Stuart Hull, Torben Meyer, Jimmy Conlin. Directed by: Preston Sturges. B

Palm Springs (2020) R comedy

I am lucky. I didn't know what the film was about before I watched it. I didn't do that on purpose. Seeing the fantastical premise slowly reveal itself is a whole lot of fun. But don't despair if you already know the premise. The remarkably sharp, incredibly funny dialog frequently makes me laugh out loud. Andy Samberg stars as a man named Nyles. He's typical Samberg, a lovable goofball with a carefree but nihilistic sense of humor. He's at a hotel on the day of a friend's wedding. Really, it's his girlfriend's friend who's getting married. He's a stranger. But he seems comfortable wearing a Hawaiian shirt to the ceremony instead of the suit he packed. During the reception, the bride's sister Sarah (Cristin Milioti) gets very drunk but is asked to give a speech. He senses her hesitation and jumps right in for the rescue, delivering a loud, pompous toast that's tinged with sarcasm, even insinuating that the bride and groom look like siblings (which they do). Nonetheless, he ends the toast well, so the attendees raise their glasses of champagne. He meets them by popping open a can of beer. Afterwards, he approaches Sarah. Clearly, he's attracted to her. She doesn't think the feeling could be mutual, but then his constant, sharply observant witticisms surprise her. Their chemistry throughout this film is phenomenal . . . a true driving force behind the film's underlying charm. Starring: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camilia Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin, Chris Pang, Peter Gallagher, Jacqueline Obradors. Directed by: Max Barbakow. A-

Panic Room (2002) R thriller

A thriller that demonstrates that a minimal amount of characters and setting can be remarkably effective. Further constricting the action, the two protagonists Meg (Jodie Foster) and her 11-year-old daughter Sarah (Kristen Stewart) spend most of the movie within the confines of a single room -- a panic room, a ventilated steel and concrete box that's practically impenetrable and equipped with surveillance monitors and an intercom system. Perhaps they scoffed at this state-of-the-art room at first as something for paranoid rich people, but it turns out they would use it before their first night is through. Their home is invaded by a trio of burglars (Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto) believing the house to be empty. They're looking to take something the previous owner left behind. The movie is supplied with a healthy amount of twists and turns to keep me on my toes. This is an exciting film. If it's not edge-of-your-seat, it's awfully close. Foster proves to be an engaging action hero -- a tough woman who, with help of her daughter's resourcefulness, prove worthy adversaries for these unwelcome guests. Starring: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto, Patrick Bauchau, Ian Buchanan. Directed by: David Fincher. B+

Paparazzi (2004) PG-13 action

A shooting star in Hollywood (Cole Hauser) quickly discovers that the price of his celebrity is the constant hassle of the paparazzi. The torment is escalated to an extreme when the evil yellow journalists cause a traffic accident that promptly puts his family in the hospital. Ö At that point, Paparazzi was all right. Groans ensue afterwards as Hauser starts bumping them off. The fact that the acting is mediocre doesnít help, either. The cameos are kind of fun though, I guess. Starring: Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney, Dennis Farina, Daniel Baldwin, Tom Hollander, Kevin Gage, Blake Bryan, Tom Sizemore, Andrea Baker, Jordan Baker, Duane Davis, Chris Rock, Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Matthew McConaughey. Directed by: Paul Abascal. D+

Paper Clips (2004) G documentary

A rural Tennessee school undergoes an interesting project: To collect as many paper clips as there were people killed in the Holocaust. It's slow going at first, but soon the whole world hears of their project. Later on, the school gets an old Holocaust railroad car to serve as a shrine for the paper clips. This is certainly an interesting subject, but the documentary production is standard, and the effort is bogged down by pretentiousness. Directed by: Joe Fab and Elliot Berlin. B-

Paper Lion (1968) G sports

Alan Alda plays George Plimpton, a magazine journalist, in this entertaining sports film. He is on special assignment to play quarterback for the Detroit Lions as an inexperienced and non-athletic amateur to report on how it is like. He battles frustration from infuriated teammates (because they don't want to have to rely on this bozo on the field) and he must withstand threats from them. This film is notable for having real professional football players in the cast. Even though professional athletes have never been accredited for their acting abilities, these ones could have been a lot worse. Perfect for pro football fans! Look for Roy Scheider in a small part. Starring: Alan Alda, Lauren Hutton, David Doyle, Ann Turkel, Sugar Ray Robinson, Frank Gifford, Vince Lombardi, Joe Schmidt, Alex Karras, John Gordy, Mike Lucci, Pat Studstill, Roger Brown, Roy Scheider. Directed by: Alex March. B

Paper Moon (1973) G comedy/drama

This is a strikingly buoyant comedy despite a grim start. It's the height of the Great Depression, and a newly orphaned nine-year-old girl from the dusty plains of Kansas, Addie (Tatum O'Neal), attends her mother's funeral. She'd died in a car crash. Addie isn't crying, though. She has a stoic, calculated expression on her face -- a look that she keeps with her most of this film. A conman named Moses (Ryan O'Neal) arrives in a rickety vehicle. Maybe he's her biological father -- he's not saying. He gets roped into driving Addie to her aunt's house in Missouri. Before skipping town, though, he visits the brother of the man responsible for orphaning Addie -- squeezing him out of $200. Addie overhears this and observes Moses enriching himself with it. When he tries to dump her off at a train station, she loudly demands the money be returned to her. By that time, he'd spent much of it already. Realizing she isn't going to shut up about it until she gets it, he promises to get it back through his trusty con in which he scours the newspaper obituaries for widows and sell them deluxe editions of the Bible with their names engraved in gold -- supposedly ordered but not fully paid before shuffling off this mortal coil. (They have an engraver in the back seat.) Moses demands Addie stay hidden while working these cons, but after she uses her cuteness to get Moses out of a potentially sticky situation they become partners. She's even better at pulling cons than he is and a far better judge of character -- particularly after Moses starts to date a woman (Madeline Kahn) who is preparing to eat them out of house and home. This is a funny and poignant film about two lonely people who stumble upon a special kind of camaraderie. Notwithstanding that they are father and daughter . . . probably. The black-and-white cinematography is brilliant such that these characters with big personalities really pop out of the screen. The script is sharp as razors and the performances amazing -- especially the Tatum O'Neal, who carries the film with uncanny aplomb. She is a complex character far too young for those scours and glares to start getting them etched on her face -- yet she also has an abundance of natural wisdom. She doesn't care much for dresses and bows, but she nevertheless becomes upset when people mistake her for a boy. She also starts to carefully survey her growth into womanhood -- but, alas, she lacks a healthy mentor in that arena. Anyway, these are some great characters and the film is so absorbing that I never want it to end. Starring: Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman, P.J. Johnson, Jessie Lee Fulton, James N. Harrell, Lila Water, Noble Willingham, Bob Young. Directed by: Peter Bogdanovich. A

Papillion (1973) PG drama

Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman star in this wonderful drama as a man known as Papillon (played by McQueen) who is convicted of murder and constantly attempts to escape from prison. Dustin Hoffman plays McQueen's prison buddy who helps him in his efforts. Certainly not for the nauseous, or people who like a laugh or two because it's very graphic and realistic. To others, this is a great film! Starring: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon, Anthony Zerbe, George Couloris. Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner. A-

The Paradine Case (1947) NR drama

This Alfred Hitchcock courtroom drama is reputed to be dreadful, but it isn't that bad; in fact, it's really quite good! Gregory Peck stars as a lawyer hired to defend Mrs. Paradine, a woman accused of killing her husband. It's rather difficult defending her because she won't even tell her own lawyer the details of what she saw the day her husband died. Hitchcock has made better movies; this one's only for his fans. Starring: Gregory Peck, Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ann Todd, Ethel Barrymore, Louis Jourdan, Alida Valli, Leo G. Carroll, Joan Tetzel. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. B-

Paradise Now (2005) PG-13 drama

Itís difficult to sympathize with suicide bombers; director Hany Abu-Assad is merely asking the viewer to hear what they have to say. This is a strikingly Hollywood-ized movie about a couple of Palestinians chosen to complete a suicide mission. They are initially glad to have been picked for the mission, because Islam lore states that they will go to Paradise for such martyrdom. However, when the mission goes wrong and is postponed, they have a chance to analyze what theyíre doing. Itís a pretentious film, but itís well made, and it should be viewed by anyone who gives a damn about current events. Starring: Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman, Lubana Azabal, Amer Hlehel, Hiam Abbass. Directed by: Hany Abu-Assad. B+

Paradox Lake (2002) PG semi-documentary

This is an interesting (and very, very low-budget) combination between scripted drama and documentary about a counselor at a summer camp for autistic children. It was filmed and put together skillfully by the filmmakers, which makes the film watchable (and even somewhat fascinating) overall. The various subplots scattered throughout are horribly bland; that is the major flaw of the movie. Starring: Matt Wolf, Jessica Fuchs, Phe Caplan, Jason Miller, Ernie Jurez, John Gelin. Directed by: Przemyslaw Shemie Reut. C

The Parallax View (1974) R thriller

Chalk this up as a competent, taut, occasionally titillating thriller. Warren Beatty, who was at the peak of his star power, plays Joseph Frady, an anti-establishment reporter whose former girlfriend (Paula Prentiss) believes someone is out to kill her. Turns out she was correct, as she turns up dead after an apparent drug overdose. Soon Frady realizes a pattern: She was just another in a long line of deaths among those who witnessed an assassination atop the Space Needle. (A genuinely terrifying scene!) Thus, Frady embarks on a high-octane investigation into the assassination -- and dodging attempts at his own life. While this is a decent pick for genre fans, it's not quite exciting, distinctive, or memorable enough to make it a bona fide classic. But I will add that the cinematography is wonderful; its frequent, creative use of angles and outdoors settings keeps the experience eye-popping. Starring: Warren Beatty, Paula Prentiss, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels, Walter McGinn, Kelly Thordsen, Jim Davis, Bill McKinney, Stacy Keach Sr. Directed by: Alan J. Pakula. B

Parenthood (1989) PG-13 comedy

This charming and sometimes hilarious comedy about the problems of some ill-fated parents is the kind of film that is heartwarming without being too cheesy. The cast, consisting of a big name cast is all in top form. Director Ron Howard has many acclaimed films to his name, but this is one of his best. Starring: Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dianne Wiest, Jason Robards, Jr., Rick Moranis, Tom Hulce, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, Harley Jane Kozak, Leaf Phoenix, Helen Shaw, Dennis Dugan, Eileen Ryan. Directed by: Ron Howard. A-

Paris, je t'aime (2006) R comedy

The cinematic equivalent of a heart-shaped box of chocolates. A collection of 18 short films, all made by different directors--vignettes often poignant, often funny, often engaging. The Coen Brothers' segment is balls-to-the-wall wacky and frequently makes me burst out laughing. It stars Steve Buscemi as a bewildered American tourist who is accosted by a bizarre French couple. The most visually stylish segment features Elijah Wood being seduced by a pretty vampire, and the blood looks like acrylic paint. I also enjoy the short about a child telling the story of how their parents met--which was in jail. And his parents happen to be mimes 24/7. Some segments go in and out my head without making a huge impression, but that's also the nature of the beast when we're talking about watching 18 short films in a row. Taken as a whole, this is quite the incredible love letter to Paris. Starring: Ben Gazzara, Gena Rowlands, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Steve Buscemi, Fanny Ardant, Juliette Binoche, Sergio Castellitto, Willem Dafoe, Gerard Depardieu, Marianne Faithfull, Bob Hoskins, Margo Martindale, Emily Mortimer, Nick Nolte, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Natalie Portman, Miranda Richardson, Ludvine Sagnier, Rufus Sewell, Gaspard Ulliel, Elijah Wood. Directed by: Olivier Assayas, Frederic Auburtin, Emmanuel Benbihy, Gurinder Chadha, Sylvain Chomet, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Isabel Coixet, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuaron, Gerard Depardieu, Christopher Doyle, Richard LaGravenese, Vincenzo Natali, Alexander Payne, Bruno Podalydes, Walter Salles, Oliver Schmitz, Nobuhiro Suwa, Daniela Thomas, Tom Tykwer, Gus Van Sant. B+

Paris, Texas (1984) R drama

A lanky man in his 50s with a vacant expression on his face walks with a determined gait through the Texas desert. He wanders into a convenience store where he promptly collapses. At this time, we don't know anything about this character other than his name is Travis (Harry Dean Stanton), and he has a brother named Walt (Dean Stockwell). Walt, having assumed his brother was long dead, comes to the hospital to pick him up. And despite Walt's attempts to spark a long awaited conversation, Travis remains silent. The film starts out with lots of questions, and it gradually resolves them. This film is like one big, blurry picture that the more the film lingers on, the more it into focus. By the end of the film, we know who Travis is with crystal clarity and what happened to cause him to get into this dissociative state. And let me tell you -- it is heart wrenching, culminating in a monologue that's so remarkable I had to read it several times on my own after hearing it the first time. But this isn't an especially sad film, even if the ending did leave me with a lump in my throat. There are charming and even funny moments as well -- particularly those scenes with Travis reconnecting with his son Hunter. Stanton's performance is phenomenal. Despite his character being a man of few words, it's hard to keep my eyes off him -- his idiosyncrasies are magnetic. Adding to the amazingness of this film are barren Texas landscapes that are beautifully captured, and the minimalist guitar soundtrack from Roy Cooder that matches that landscape perfectly. What an incredible journey. Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, Nasassja Kinski, Dean Stockwell, Aurore Clement, Hunter Carson. Directed by: Wim Wenders. A+

The Party (1968) NR comedy

This plotless venture contains enough guffaws for it to be enjoyable. Peter Sellers stars as a clumsy Indian actor who was accidentally invited to a party. There he causes a lot of accidents and problems. Seller's wonderful slapstick talent is thankfully abundant meaning this is a must for Sellers fans. Starring: Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet, Marge Champion, Sharron Kimberly, Denny Miller, Gavin Macleod, Buddy Lester, Corrine Cole, J. Edward McKinley, Fay McKenzie, Kathe Green. Directed by: Blake Edwards. A

Party Girl (1958) NR drama

The first thing I notice about this movie is it is filmed in crisp color, and the costumes and set designs are fantastic. The star, Cyd Charisse, also does a couple dance routines, because to not have her do so would have constituted cinematic malpractice. Otherwise, this film is a marginally engaging romance story between a showgirl (Charisse) and an intellectual lawyer for the mob (Robert Taylor). At first, he chastises her for taking money to accompany members of the mob to a party, but then she points out he's hardly different--he takes even more money to use his unparalleled lawyerly skills getting members of the mob scot free of murder. The two leads don't have much chemistry, and their dialogue is frequently hammy. But as a consolation prize, we get to see Lee J. Cobb giving an intense performance (as usual, for him) as the mob boss. Overall this is an entertaining picture, and I do appreciate the moral expositions they explored. Starring: Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb, John Ireland, Kent Smith, Claire Kelly, Corey Allen, Lewis Charles. Directed by: Nicholas Ray. B-

Pascali's Island (1988) PG-13 drama

Ben Kingsley stars as an informer living on a small Island off the coast of Greece who meets with a phony archaeologist. The archeologist's plan is to lease some land from the governor, pretend he's finding invaluable artifacts on it and rack up the dough he gets when the governor buys the lease back. He's been at this hoax for a number of years, but he has never actually found anything important until he literally stumbles on one. This drama is somewhat dull, but it picks up pace toward the end. The performances and the beautiful scenery are by far the best aspect of this film. Starring: Ben Kingsley, Helen Mirren, Charles Dance, George Murcell, Shelia Allen, Nadim Sawalha. Directed by: James Dearden. B

The Passion of the Christ (2004) R drama

Director Mel Gibson set out to do an amazing task with his high budget picture (that he financed himself) chronicling the last moments in the life of Jesus Christ. Faithful to what's written in the New Testament and history experts, Gibson infamously doesn't gloss over the greusome details of the crucifixion. Starring: James Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Gerini, Maia Morgenstern, Sergio Rubini, Robert Bestazzoni, Toni Bertorelli. Directed by: Mel Gibson. A-

Patch Adams (1998) PG-13 drama

This is an entertaining film about medical student Patch Adams, played by Robin Williams, who believes the doctor/patient relationship should be close and personal and humor is the best medicine. This film exhibits attractive characters and an interesting story, but it uses an unnatural blend of comedy and tragedy. It's still a good pick for Williams fans. Starring: Robin Williams, Daniel London, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bob Gunton, Josef Sommer, Irma P. Hall, Frances Lee McCain, Harve Presnell. Directed by: Tom Shadyac. B-

The Patriot (2000) R war

Mel Gibson stars as a family man of 1776 who doesn't support the American Revolution. However, when his eldest son joins the Rebel force and his second eldest is murdered by the Redcoats, Mel Gibson goes Mad Max making them regret they messed with this guy. Itís fictionalized, but it never fails to be a thrilling war/adventure that entertains. Recommended but sometimes it is too shallow. The ending is powerful. Starring: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs, Chris Cooper, Tcheky Karyo, Rene Auberjonois, Lisa Brenner, Tom Wilkinson, Donal Lague, Leon Rippy, Adam Baldwin, Jay Arlen Jones, Joey D. Vieira, Gregory Smith. Directed by: Ronald Emmerich. B+

The Patsy (1964) NR comedy

Some scenes made me laugh so hard that I couldn't possibly dish out a negative review of this. Even though I was forced to sit through much of Jerry Lewis' irritating schtick to get there. The film begins when a popular comedian dies in an airplane crash, and his management team decide to train a new comedian from the ground up. Instead of finding someone with talent for such a project, they pick literally the first person they see--an extremely klutzy bellhop. The premise isn't bad, but the execution makes it obviously a thin excuse to string a few sketch ideas together. Starring: Jerry Lewis, Ina Balin, Everett Sloane, Phil Harris, Keenan Wynn, Peter Lorre, John Carradine, Ina Balin. Directed by: Jerry Lewis. B-

Pay it Forward (2000) PG-13 drama

This touching drama about a 7th grade social studies teacher, Kevin Spacey, who gives a mandatory assignment to go out and change the world when one of his students, Haley Joel Osment, actually takes it seriously. He comes up with this "Pay it Forward" idea where he does a huge favor for somebody. The fortunate person can't pay it back; he/she must pay it forward to three other people which sends it down an ever-lasting web of people. A reporter stumbles upon this web and works to backtrack it to its orgin. Helen Hunt plays Osment's drunken mother who falls in love with her son's social studies teacher. This film is thought-provoking and does an excellent job considering the unlikely plot. Starring: Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Angie Dickinson, James Caviezel, Jay Mohr, Jon Bon Jovi, David Ramsay, Gary Werntz, Shawn Pyfrom. Directed by: Mimi Leder. A-

Pearl Harbor (2001) PG-13 drama

This film looks so beautiful with its picture-perfect Hawaiian countryside and close-up shots of unblemished Hollywood heartthrobs that -- if the Japanese hadn't decided to bomb Pearl Harbor at one point -- I'd have thought this was an extended commercial for home insurance. Or anti-depressants. But it turns out this movie is about one of the most somber days in United States history. Ben Affleck stars as Rafe, a combat pilot who falls head-over-heels for a nurse (Kate Beckinsale). The feeling is mutual. She also lets him cheat on his eye exam. He then goes off flying somewhere and doesn't return. She presumes the worst (because she's probably the only other person in the entire military who's aware this pilot's blind as a bat?), and she starts dating his best friend Danny (Josh Harnett). But twist! Rafe's not actually dead. Another twist! Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. Jon Voight looking rather like a bullfrog in what's supposedly FDR prosthetics says the word "Infamy" and then WWII breaks loose. For a three-hour-long movie about a harbor full of battleships that get bombed, it doesn't seem like a whole lot happens. The focus is kept mainly on that love triangle, which is very long drawn out and uninteresting. Expect lots of wide shots, maudlin music, and hopelessly bland dialogue. Even worse, this film doesn't even come across especially respectful for those who died in this tragedy. The least they could have done was get the jingoism right. Starring: Ben Affleck, Josh Harnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Alec Baldwin, William Lee Scott, Greg Zola, Ewen Bremner, James King, Catherine Kellner, Jennifer Garner, Jon Voight, Dan Aykroyd. Directed by: Michael Bay. C-

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) PG-13 comedy

This amiable comedy stars Kathleen Turner as a housewife who is undergoing a miserable mid-life crisis. At her high schoolís 25th reunion party, she faints and is transported back to 1960 where she is allowed to make different choices. This is a film with laughs in the right places and heart strewn throughout. Director Francis Ford Coppola did a good job with this film despite that itís outside of his established genre. Starring: Kathleen Turner, Nicolas Cage, Barry Miller, Catherine Hicks, Joan Allen, Kevin J. OíConnor, Barbara Harris, Don Murray, Maureen OíSullivan, Leon Ames, Helen Hunt, Jim Carrey, Lisa Jane Persky, Lucinda Jenney, Wil Chriner, Sofia Coppola, John Carradine. Directed by: Frances Ford Coppola. B+

Penelope (1966) NR comedy

This is a strange comedy about a woman (Natalie Wood) who robs her husband's bank and voluntarily goes to a psychiatrist (Dick Shawn) to find out why. Natalie Wood grossly overplays her role and the rest of the cast comes off as unbelievable. This film is humorous and somewhat enjoyable, but the script is unforgivably bad. Starring: Natalie Wood, Ian Bannen, Dick Shawn, Peter Falk, Jonathan Winters, Lila Kedrova, Jou Jacobi, Norma Crane, Arthur Malet, Jerome Cowan. Directed by: Arthur Hiller. C

Penny Serenade (1941) NR drama

Irene Dunne stars as a music-loving housewife who, with each record she puts on the turntable, is reminded of some event in her romance and marriage with Cary Grant and remembers her experiences with her adopted child. Even though it stars Irene Dunne and Cary Grant, a couple popular for producing brilliantly funny comedies, "Penny Serenade" deviates and is quite a sad tragedy. Starring:Starring: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Beulah Bondi, Edgar Buchanan, Ann Doran, Eva Lee Kuney, Leonard Willey, Wallis Clark. Directed by: George Stevens. B+

The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996) R comedy/drama

It doesn't matter if you enjoy Larry Flynt's "literary contribution" to the world or not, this movie is about freedom of speech and the very social framework that makes up American society. Woody Harrelson gives the performance of his career (which isn't saying much, but I want to complement him) in this biopic about the wildly outspoken pornography peddler whose magazine shook up America. Even if you don't care about stuff like pornography, this is a highly entertaining film that boasts an engaging script and a patriotic message. Starring: Woody Harrelson, Courtney Love, Edward Norton, James Cromwell, Crispin Glover, Donna Hanover, Burt Neuborne, Richard Paul, Brett Harrelson, James Carville. Directed by: Milos Forman. A-

The Perfect Crime (2004) R comedy

This is a fast-paced, witty black comedy from Spain. A playboy in a clothing store discovers that a manager's job that he worked hard to obtain has been given to a co-worker. In a fit of rage, he kills the co-worker. But he had a witness, and she wants his body. The clever script will provide hearty laughs for the cynical, and you're never quite sure where this film is headed. Starring: Guillermo Toledo, Monica Cervera, Luis Varela, Tejada Enrique Villen, Fernando Tejero, Kiro Miro. Directed by: Alex de la Iglesia. A-

A Perfect Murder (1998) R thriller

This remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder lacks the thrills of the original, but that much is to be expected. I find this to be an entertaining film overall, though. Every shot looks like glossy pages from a magazine, the actors look like clothing models, there's sleek New Age music pumping through every scene. Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) is an uber-wealthy financier whose business dealings are going badly south. Emily (Gwyneth Paltrow) is his neglected wife who is in the midst of a hot fling with painter David Shaw (Viggo Mortensen). Emily thinks the affair is a well-kept secret. Not only does her husband know about it, he knows David has a sordid history scamming rich women out of money. But then there's a twist. Steven turns up at David's studio and offers him a cool half million. And all he has to do for that is to murder Emily. She's worth $100 million, and he plans to use the money to cover his business losses. But of course things don't go as planned. . . Starring: Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Viggo Mortensen, David Suchet, Sarita Choudhury. Directed by: Andrew Davis. B-

The Perfect Storm (2000) PG-13 drama

George Clooney stars in this exciting film about a swordfish boat captain who unwittingly sails into the mother of all storms. It's based upon a true story which makes the fact that this film lacks substance forgivable. Its rather dull beginning leads to a tremendous climax. Adapted from the book by Sebastian Junger. Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, John C. Reilly, William Fichtner, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Karen Allen, Bob Gunton, John Hawkes. Directed by: Wolfgang Petersen. B+

Period of Adjustment (1962) NR comedy

This might not be among playwright Tennessee Williamsí best stories, but itís still pretty good. Jane Fonda and Jim Hutton are newly weds who canít stop fighting from the moment they leave the altar. In a huff, Hutton drops her off at the home of a friend (Anthony Francoisa) who is having marital problems of his own. Even though some of the comedic scenes were rather cheeky, this film still contains unforgettable flashes of drama. The cast, which includes Fonda in one of her earliest roles, is excellent. Starring: Anthony Franciosca, Jane Fonda, Jim Hutton, Lois Nettleton, John McGiver, Mabel Albertson, Jack Albertson. Directed by: George Roy Hill. B+

The Phantom of the Opera (2004) PG musical

Finally, Andrew Lloyd Webberís musical about the freak in the opera house comes to the big screen! Ö And what can I say? If you were one of those people who have literally been waiting years for this movie to come to the screen (and I was one of them), then you will probably not be disappointed. The producers spared no expense with the utterly lavish sets! The singing could have been a lot better, but the music is still beautiful. Ö I liked it! But then again, I was a fan to begin with. Donít bother with it if youíre not a fan. You know what youíre missing. Nevertheless, Schumacher did a glorious job with the source material. Starring: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow, Victor McGuire, Jennifer Ellsion, Murray Melvin. Directed by: Joel Schumacher. B+

Phenomenon (1996) PG drama

John Travolta stars in this touching story as a small-town man who goes outside one night and sees a bright light come out at him from the sky that knocks him down. From then on, Travolta develops an inhuman amount of intelligence (he was able to learn the Portuguese language in approximately 20 minutes) and he develops telekinetic powers. His town pretty soon rejects Travolta as a human being. It's an enjoyable film, but it's too slow, overlong and Travolta's acting could have been more believable. Starring: John Travolta, Kyra Sedgwick, Forest Whitaker, Robert Duvall, David Gallagher, Ashley Buccile, Tony Genaro, Sean O'Bryan, Bruce Young, Michael Milhoan, Vyto Ruginis. Directed by: John Turteltaub. B-

Philadelphia (1993) PG-13 drama

A good film in its own right, but this was also a major cultural touchstone -- helping normalize homosexuality and AIDS, which society needed badly at the time. (And probably still does.) Tom Hanks stars as Andrew Beckett, a big shot lawyer struck down at the peak of his career when he contracts HIV. He'd concealed his condition and his homosexuality from his law firm, but when they catch on he is subsequently fired. Believing he was dismissed without just cause, he hires local lawyer Joseph Miller (Denzel Washington) to represent him. Miller was reluctant at first to take on the case, due to his own homophobia, but he eventually relents and even comes to terms with his prejudices. What ensues is an engaging -- even if it comes off a bit leaden -- courtroom drama. As the case drags on, so does the course of Andrew's disease. By design, this film played it safe with the material -- Hanks, a straight man, doesn't do anything particularly homosexual on screen. The point being to make liberals (who might identify with Washington's character) comfortable going into theaters and allowing their minds to open a bit. While the approach might come off these days, this is nonetheless a fine film -- well acted (with Hanks enjoying is first Academy Award win). A few notches short of fascinating, this is nonetheless an engaging, sad story -- the kind you watch with a lump in your throat. Starring: Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas, Ron Vawter, Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards Jr., Robert Ridgely, Paul Lazar, Bradley Whitford, Tracey Walter, John Bedford Lloyd, Robert Castle. Directed by: Jonathan Demme. A-

The Philadelphia Experiment (1984) PG sci-fi

This unlikely science fiction flick is about a navy ship in 1943 being part of a breakthrough experiment that was designed to make the vessel disappear on radars. It ends up making the ship disappear from reality! Soon after, two soldiers jump off the ship and into a worm hole, and are transported to the year 1984. This film doesn't contain much surprise, and it's not too engaging, but it gets credit for creativity. Unfortunately, there is a hokey romance between sailor Michael Pere and futurewoman Nancy Allen. Starring: Michael Pare, Nancy Allen, Eric Christmas, Bobby Di Cicco, Kene Holiday, Louise Latham, Joe Dorsey, Michael Currie, Stephen Toblowsky, Gary Brockette, Debra Troyer. Directed by: Stewart Raffill. B

The Philadelphia Story (1940) NR romantic comedy

Classic film buffs rejoice with this only film to star film legends Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Cary Grant all together. Hepburn stars as a rich woman who is about to wed when her ex-husband, Cary Grant, and an unwanted magazine reporter, James Stewart, appears. This is an indispensable comedy and is one of the funniest films in history. Starring: Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, John Howard, Roland Young, John Halliday, Mary Nash, Virginia Weidler. Directed by: George Cukor. A+

Phone Booth (2003) R thriller

This is an exciting thriller that mostly takes place in a phone booth. Colin Farrell gives a superb performance as a small-time publicist who falls victim to the deranged plans of a sniper who forces him to remain in a phone booth or be killed. The ending was pretty disappointing for me, but this was a highly entertaining film to watch until that point. Starring: Colin Farrell, Keifer Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Radha Mitchell, Katie Holmes, Richard T. Jones, John Enos, James MacDonald. Directed by: Joel Schumacher. B+

Physical Evidence (1989) R thriller

The acting is so wooden it could supply the Louisville Slugger company with a year's worth of raw material, but this is nonetheless a moderately entertaining courtroom action-drama about a brutish cop (Burt Reynolds) with lots of enemies who is accused of killing a shady club owner. He made bail, and he spends much of his time trying to exonerate himself, which of course involves beating people up. He also starts to develop a thing for his court-appointed lawyer (Theresa Russell). Starring: Burt Reynolds, Theresa Russell, Ned Beatty, Kay Lenz, Ted McGinley, Tom O'Brien. Directed by: Michael Crichton. C

Picnic (1955) NR drama

A former college football star (William Holden) wanders into a small Kansas town to find a future in the grain business. He immediately falls in love with the townís beauty (Kim Novak) who is engaged to the townís wealthiest bachelor (Cliff Robertson). This is a genuine classic and extremely well acted even though it is too stagy and over-dramatic at times. Nevertheless, this is a good depiction of small town life. Starring: William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Kim Novak, Betty Field, Susan Strasberg, Cliff Robertson, Arthur OíConnell, Verna Felton. Directed by: Joshua Logan. B+

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) PG drama

This movie is about unresolved mysteries. It is about questions that obsessively turn over and over in your mind, where you fight for answers but there are no answers. I absolutely love it, but do be forewarned that this is a film with no resolution. But I love endings like this -- instead of being spoon-fed with one definitive ending, the mind will imagine infinite possible endings. This story is about a group of Australian school girls in the year 1900 who take a field trip to a towering rock outcrop. They are permitted to explore but forbidden from scaling the rock. Four of them scale it anyway -- a winding labyrinth of natural pathways between walls of rock. But the next thing anyone knows, Edith is running down the rock screaming in terror and looking disheveled. She has no recollection what frightened her, nor does she know where the other three girls went. An exhaustive search transpires, but . . . they just vanished. This is a mesmerizing, atmospheric film that draws me in and keeps me there. The cinematographer even did a little experimentation putting different kinds of translucent cloth over the camera lens to give it a soft glow. Starring: Rachel Roberts, Dominic Guard, Helen Morse, Jacki Weaver, Vivean Gray, Kristy Child, Anne Lambert, Karen Robson, Jane Vallis, Christine Schuler. Directed by: Peter Weir. A

The Pigeon That Took Rome (1962) NR comedy

This is an entertaining but not noteworthy Charlton Heston film in one of his rare comedies. Itís about a pair of Americans traveling to Italy during World War II to send carrier pigeons to the Allies. Also mixed in with this movie is some romances with the locals. It's sometimes funny but usually not. Starring: Charlton Heston, Elsa Martinelli, Harry Guardino, Baccaloni, Marietto, Gabriella Pallotta. Directed by: Melville Shavelson. C+

The Pink Panther (1964) PG comedy

This movie is funny enough to make you scream (almost). Sellers stars in his first portrayal of the clumsy French detective, Jacques Clouseau, gives a dedicated and very funny slapstick performance as he attempts to find out who stole the precious Pink Panther diamond. David Niven, as the villain, also turns in a marvellous performance. Starring: Peter Sellers, David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine, Claudia Cardinale, Brenda de Banzie, Fran Jeffries, Colin Gordon, John Le Mesurier, James Lanphier. Directed by: Blake Edwards. A

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) PG comedy

This fourth Pink Panther movie is another classic. The totally mad former cheif inspector Dreyfuss (Herbert Lom) escapes from his mental institution and builds a death ray. Unless somebody kills his arch-nemesis, the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers), he will make a lot of stuff disappear. This is another howl-fest featuring silly disguises, great slapstick, and Omar Sharif as one of the would-be assassins. Starring: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Colin Blakely, Leonard Rossiter, Lesley-Anne Down, Burt Kwouk, Andre Maranne, Marne Maitland, Michael Robbins, Omar Sharif. Directed by: Blake Edwards. A-

Pirates (1986) PG adventure

Walter Matthau stars as 17th Century pirate Captain Red who is stranded at sea with his cabin boy Frog (Chris Campion). They are captured by a galleon and sent to the brig. But they won't be stuck there for long. When the ship's captain dies and the corrupt First Mate (Damien Thomas) takes over, they help instigate a mutiny. Further, Captain Red concocts a plan to steal an invaluable golden Aztec throne. While this is hardly a good film by really any measure (apart from the dazzling and probably obscenely expensive costumes and set designs), I found myself surprised at how much I was actually enjoying it. While Matthau was probably miscast, he's hilarious. He's a cantankerous, filthy old man talking in a fake cockney accent, and he aggravates prissy aristocrats. What's not to enjoy about that? (He also eats a rat -- blech!) However, where this film falls horribly short is really its main crux was supposed to be. That is, the adventure is not terribly titillating, and the swashbuckling isn't very convincing or excited. But I still wouldn't say any of that is bad, necessarily. Just not nearly as good as it should have been. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this film for what it was -- even if that was in spite of myself. Starring: Walter Matthau, Cris Campion, Damien Thomas, Olu Jacobs, Ferdy Mayne, David Kelly, Tony Peck, Anthony Dawson. Directed by: Roman Polanski. B-

The Pirates of Penzance (1983) PG musical/dance

This is a quirky musical with a cardboard set, strange plot, Gilbert & Sullivan songs and abnormal choreography. Well it's an old-style operetta. At the beginning of the flick, the non-juvenile viewer will find this to be quite the oddity, but once it gets going, it manages to catch on fire and deliver. A good family film that would have been much nicer if it was shot on location instead of using styrofoam for rocks and Christmas lights for stars. The best part is the song and dance from the troupe of policemen. Starring: Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury, Linda Ronstadt, George Rose, Rex Smith, Tony Azito. Directed by: Wilford Leach. C

The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) PG-13 comedy

The forces of nature were working against this movie. It's a film adapted from an amusement park ride at Disney World. The running length is more than two hours, and it easily could have been cut. Jerry Bruckheimer (who is well known for helming uninspired movies) produced it, and the script is mediocre at best. But it works because director Gore Verbinski allowed star Johnny Depp to steal the show with his goofy Keith Richard impersonation. The results not only made this film entirely entertaining, but also earned Depp an Academy Award nomination in what was destined to be another throwaway summer blockbuster. (And Geoffrey Rush, cast as a damned pirate, is top-notch as well.) Starring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightley, Jack Davenport, Kevin McNally, Jonathan Pryce, Zoe Saldana, Treva Etienne, David Baile, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Trevor Goddard. Directed by: Gore Verbinski. B+

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) PG-13 comedy

Johnny Depp reprises his role as Capt. Jack Sparrow in this lesser sequel. This time, an octopus-man Capt. Davy Jones (Bill Nighly) comes to collect his debt from Sparrow. Will (Orlando Bloom) must board the ship and try to retrieve a key. This film is bigger and longer than the original, which isn't a good thing. Depp gives another excellent performance, but the joke is wearing thin. Starring:Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightley, Jack Davenport, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Geoffrey Rush, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Kevin McNally. Directed by: Gore Verbinski. C+

Pirates of the Plain (1999) G comedy

If it weren't for Tim Curry's spirited performance as a high seas pirate who goes into a time warp to modern day Nebraska, this dismally scripted made-for-TV movie would have been completely worthless. Even though Curry is very watchable, he can't totally save the cliched script. Starring: Tim Curry, Dee Wallace, Seth Adkins. Directed by: John Cherry. C+

Pitch Black (2000) R sci-fi

This intense and exciting science fiction picture tracks the exploits of a few space travelers who become stranded on a deserted planet. Even though there used to be a science station on that planet, the crew has no idea why they all died. ... Don't worry. It all soon becomes apparent. This is a well-scripted and well-directed flick, which makes up for the lack of good acting ability from the cast. It was a good movie, but it had a horrible sequel. (See: The Chronicles of Riddick.) Starring: Radha Mitchell, Vin Diesel, Cole Hauser, Keith David, Lewis Fitz-Gerald, Claudia Black, Rhiana Griffith, John Moore, Simon Burke. Directed by: David N. Twohy. B+

Places in the Heart (1984) PG drama

Sally Field stars as a farm wife whose husband, the sheriff, is killed in a freak accident by an intoxicated black man. The bank threatens to foreclose her property, but upon the insistence of a wandering laborer (Danny Glover) Field decides to try raising cotton herself. This is an emotional and gripping drama about trying to make it on your own. Starring: Sally Field, Danny Glover, John Malkovich, Lindsay Crouse, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Yankton Hatten, Gennie James, Lane Smith, De'Voreaux White, Trey Wilson. Directed by: Robert Benton. A

Plague Dogs (1982) PG-13 animated

Beware, this animated film is not for the weak of heart and is going to mess up any kid who happens to run across it. Heck, I am a grown man and found this film incredibly distressing. A pair of dogs escape a scientific lab where cruel tests were performed on them. They have no idea how to behave outside but find some help from a fox, who ends up exploiting them. The dogs' understandably jaded view of humanity is unbelievably heartbreaking, particularly when one of them talks about rumors of humans being great to dogs--something they've never witnessed nor have any hope to experience. This is a resonant, moving film, and the animation is beautiful. I felt like I wasn't the same person after watching this. Voices of: John Hurt, Christopher Benjamin, James Bolam, Nigel Hawthorne, Warren Mitchell, Bernard Hepton. Directed by: Martin Rosen. A

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987) R comedy

Steve Martin stars as an uptight advertising-man who tries to travel home during the Thanksgiving season after a long business meeting. When he flies home to Chicago, the airport is snowed in and the plane ends up having to detour to Wichita, Kan. (where I've been stranded for more than 15 years, thank you). It being Thanksgiving, Martin has to travel cross-country home, but with an annoying loser, played skillfully by John Candy. A touching script by John Hughes and fine acting makes this a wonderful male-bonding flick and one of the best in the genre. Starring: Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker, Carol Bruce, Olivia Burnette, Diana Douglas. Directed by: John Hughes. B+

The Planet of the Apes (1968) PG sci-fi

A group of astronauts are on an expedition to a far-off planet. They reach it to discover that it's populated by English-speaking apes, and humans are mute slaves. Charlton Heston plays the head astronaut who shocks the apes over his speaking abilities. This is a completely brilliant sci-fi film featuring a great script, excellent acting and a now-classic ending. It's followed by four not-so-good sequels and a television series. Starring: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, James Daly, Linda Harrison. Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner. A+

The Planet of the Apes (2001) PG-13 sci-fi

With a different plot and theme, Tim Burton's update of the classic sci-fi film is still worth a look to those who loved the original. A Burton-signature richly decorated set and a different yet intriguing plot keeps this movie entertaining. However, it did seem a bit misguided and can neither be considered the best 'Ape' movie or in Burton's Top 5. Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, David Warner, Kris Kristofferson, Charlton Heston, Erick Avari, Luke Eberl, Evan Dexter Parke. Directed by: Tim Burton. B

Platoon (1986) R war

This excellent war flick set during the Vietnam War is about an Army newcomer (Charlie Sheen) and his experiences at the jungle battlefield. The reason you'd want to watch this flick is to see the very realistic battles; there is also a reason not to watch it for people who are squeamish. This film is both powerful and sobering, and it features fantastic performances even from Sheen. Starring: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Williem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Francesco Quinn, John C. McGinley, Richard Edson, Kevin Dillon, Reggie Johnson, Keith David, Johnny Depp. Directed by: Oliver Stone. A

Point Blank (1967) NR thriller

Lee Marvin stars in this effective piece of post-film-noir as a gangster who enacts revenge on all those who are responsible for owing him money. This is a gritty and emotionally charged film that put the viewer on the edge of his or her seat! Starring: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn, Carroll O'Connor, John Vernon, Sharon Acker, Michael Strong, Lloyd Bochner, James B. Sikking, Sandra Warner. Directed by: John Boorman. A-

Police Academy (1984) R comedy

This movie's entertainment value resides in the quirkiness of its characters, not so much the gags. Come to think of it I'm not sure anything in this film qualifies as a gag. For example, when Carey Mahoney (Steve Guttenberg), a burnout parking lot attendant, loses a verbal argument with a customer about the fullness of his lot, he skis the customer's car (that is, driving it while keeping it balanced on two side tires), wedging it in a small gap between two other cars. It's a screwy thing to do, but it's not really a gag. Gags are what you would expect in a spoof, and this film doesn't spoof anything. It's about a police academy (more closely resembling a military boot camp, since it has a campus and dorms) that was recently forced by bureaucrats to open its doors to anyone--no matter color, stature or disposition of the applicant. Certain higher-ups, in particular a nasty drill instructor, already pining for the days when police officers all looked the same, decides to weed out the "undesirables" by riding them hard. But his efforts seem only to lead to him being the butt of jokes. Not to mention his class of peculiars seem to do extraordinarily well under his leadership despite their own obvious limitations. A prissy rich woman (Kim Catrall) who wants to be a police officer to spite her family. A woman so meek voiced that nobody can hear her (Marion Ramsey). A gigantic man of few words who can bust his way through anything (Bubba Smith). A trigger happy bozo (David Graf). A goofball who can make sound effects with his voice, often used for pranks (Michael Winslow). A nebbish fat guy whose talent is being nebbish and fat (Donovan Scott). This is is the antithesis of a refined comedy, but I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy watching these characters interact with one another. Starring: Steve Guttenberg, G.W. Bailey, George Gaynes, Michael Winslow, Kim Cattrall, Bubba Smith, Andrew Rubin, Donovan Scott, Leslie Eastbrook, Marion Ramsey, Scott Thomson, Brant Van Hoffman. Directed by: Hugh Wilson. B

Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) PG comedy

One of Bobcat Goldthwaitís scenes really cracked me up (in spite of myself), but thatís the only thing good in this third installment of the notoriously bad Police Academy comedy series. Starring: Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, David Graf, Michael Winslow, Bruce Mahler, Marion Ramsey, Leslie Easterbrook, Art Metrano, Tim Kazurinsky, Bobcat Goldthwait, George Gaynes, Shawn Weatherly, Scott Thompson, Lance Kinsley. Directed by: Jerry Paris. D

The Police Story (1985) PG-13 martial arts

Jackie Chan plays a cop hired to protect a witness to a crime until itís time for her to testify in court. But when she escapes from his grasp, he is in terrible trouble! It's great watching for Chan fans because of all the eye-catching action and excellent stunts. The plot is at its usual mediocrity, unfortunately. Starring: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, Cho Yuen, Bill Tung. Directed by: Jackie Chan. B

Popeye (1980) PG comedy

This wondrous blunder from Robert Altman (the director of such films as M*A*S*H and Nashville) is a live-action adaptation of the Popeye Cartoons. This is probably one of the worst films ever made that wasted the high talents of Robin Williams and Shelly Duvall. The sets are actually very good, and the costumes are dead-ringers to the comic strip, but they were abused terribly. There are actually some slow moving tunes in this film, that aren't amplified, and the characters sort of talk it with a tuba in the background. The songs are awful anyway. The script tries to be funny, but the audience will have to have a headache before they start laughing. Completely terrible and an utter disappointment; throw this one away. Starring: Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston, Paul Smith, Paul Dooley, Richard Libertini. Directed by: Robert Altman. F

Porco Rosso (1992) G animated

Celebrated Anime director Hayao Miyazaki helms this fantastically engaging film about a flying ace, who has been transformed into a pig. Generally considered a hero to the populace, he is at odds with the Italian government. When an obnoxious Texan downs his plane, he turns to an Italian plane maker to prepare for his next battle. This clearly isn't one of Miyazaki's best films although it is one of his funniest. Voices of: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimbery Williams, Susan Egan. Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki. B+

Porky's (1981) R comedy

Horny boys and hijinks, this film is no holds barred, hormone-fueled nonsense. Offensive at the time of release, it only gets worse with age, as its whole reason for being is to glamorize sexual harassment. The poster depicts an eyeball peering through a hole, watching a girl take a shower. This actually happens in the film, except for more prying eyes and more girls. The girls catch them, but instead of recoiling, they find it amusing. One boy escalates it further by putting a certain appendage through the hole, which the girls find even more amusing. But then the super-prude Coach Balbricker (Nancy Parsons) walks in and grabs the appendage, not letting go, demanding the perpetrator be brought to swift justice. This scene shamelessly objectifies women, but at least there's pay-off. Other subplots just make me cringe, such as one involving an assistant coach nicknamed "Lassie" (Kim Cattrall) and why some of her coworkers howl when someone says her name. "Porky's" is the name of a strip club and its owner (Chuck Mitchell), a morbidly obese cigar-chomper with a gravelly voice. No surprise, the boys are drawn to the place and try purchasing alone time with ladies in a private room. Porky takes their cash but leads them into a dark room with a trap door that opens to a swamp. Such begins a longstanding feud between Porky's and the boys. As much as I find this film watchable and sometimes funny, I am torn about it -- particularly realizing the film might have singlehandedly helped normalize "locker room talk." Starring: Dan Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Mark Herrier, Roger Wilson, Cyril O'Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Scott Colomby, Nancy Parsons. Directed by: Bob Clark. C+

Porky's II: The Next Day (1983) R comedy

This sequel doesn't have the merrily naughty gleam of its predecessor, but I appreciate that it concludes with gnarly members of the Ku Klux Klan getting their comeuppance. Hardly a spoiler since such an ending is obvious as soon as those characters are introduced — the joy comes from seeing how it's done. Unfortunately, there's little else to appreciate about this film. It opens in the aftermath of two characters having had sex, Pee Wee (Dan Monaghan) and Wendy (Kaki Hunter). The now deflowered Pee Wee struts around the school cocksure but still very susceptible to lewd pranks. Meanwhile, the Shakespeare festival is in jeopardy after Bible thumping preacher Bubba Flavel (Bill Wiley) and his loyal followers, including Ms. Balbricker (Nancy Parsons), march in rehearsals demanding it be shut it down. Shakespeare apparently a corrupting force on the youth. The real issue appears to be, however, that it's set to feature a Seminole Romeo "not of the American persuasion" kiss a white Juliet. That plot element could have been hashed out more, but instead so much time is spent on unfunny dialog razzing a boy for playing Yarn, the king of the fairies. One especially excruciating scene happens in a crowded restaurant as Wendy loudly accuses a local politician of statutory rape. She carries around a vat of fake vomit within her dress's roomy bosom and pretends to throw up in a fountain. It's not only throughly unconvincing, but the victim of the prank clearly doesn't deserve that. Starring: Dan Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Mark Herrier, Roger Wilson, Cyril O'Reilly, Tony Ganios, Kaki Hunter, Scott Colomby, Nancy Parsons. Directed by: Bob Clark. C-

Porky's Revenge (1985) R comedy

Porky (Chuck Mitchell) is back after his conspicuous absence in the previous film. Not only does he rebuild his strip club as a riverboat, but he also incorporates a casino. The casino sucked in the school's beloved basketball coach, Mr. Goodenough (Bill Hindman), who is buried in gambling debt. That doesn't sit so well with the Boys who decide to prank Porky by promising to throw a basketball game when in reality they try to win. If the reason to watch Porky's is the pranks, then this sequel leaves me badly wanting. Even minor hijinks aren't funny, including one where a cheerleading squad tricks the Boys into believing they'll be treated to an orgy (gross). I get really bothered by a scene when they letch at a woman with shapely legs whose head is buried inside the hood of a car, but when she reveals her face, they recoil in horror. She ends up having a few screws loose, not to mention being the daughter of Porky, but that's no excuse for the body shaming. Probably this film's lowest point is when the Boys trick their old adversary Ms. Balbricker (Nancy Parsons) into believing an old flame of hers is meeting her at a motel. When who should end up naked in bed with her is one of her most despised students. While the first film of this series was kind of remarkable in that it made me feel guilty about enjoying it, I don't get such dilemma by this third outing. I just plain hate it. Starring: Dan Monahan, Wyatt Knight, Tony Ganios, Mark Herrier, Kaki Hunter, Scott Colomby, Nancy Parsons, Chuck Mitchell. Directed by: James Komack. D

The Portrait of a Lady (1996) PG-13 drama

One of those films I feel like I should have goaded myself into liking, lest the literate kids at middle school flash me contemptuous glares. I will be honest: sitting through this costume drama bores me to tears. I wonder if director Jane Campion (who I love) was bored as well. After all, she opens this film bizarrely with dancing, contemporary women, and then there's a surreal dream sequence that seems to pop out of nowhere in the middle. I will say at least there are elements of the film I like. Mainly the cinematography. This is a gorgeous thing to look at. Pretty much every shot is artful. Also, the powerhouse cast does a phenomenal job delivering incredibly poetic lines of dialog that I care nothing about. Starring: Nicole Kidman, John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey, Mary-Louise Parker, Martin Donovan, Shelley Winters, John Gielgud, Shelley Duvall, Richard E. Grant, Viggo Mortensen, Christian Bale, Valentina Cervi, Roger Ashton-Griffiths. Directed by: James Komack. C-

The Poseidon Adventure (1972) PG adventure

This is an exciting all-star disaster flick about an ocean liner that tips over due to a giant tidal wave. Gene Hackman plays a preacher who attempts to lead a handful of people willing to follow him to the surface. Can they make it despite the fact that the ship is sinking? The actors are believable in their roles and Shelley Winters turns in an exceptional performance as an old, fat lady who pushes along despite the odds. Stirring! Starring: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons, Carol Lynley, Roddy McDowall, Stella Stevens, Shelley Winters, Jack Albertson, Leslie Nielsen, Pamela Sue Martin, Arthur O'Connell, Eric Shea. Directed by: Ronald Neame. B+

Postcards from the Edge (1990) R comedy

An already warped and delightful script (adapted from a semi-autobiographical book from Carrie Fisher) is benefited from an Oscar-caliber performance from Meryl Streep, who plays a fading action film star that struggles with drugs and her mother (Shirley MacLaine in a delightful performance). It is marvelously wicked and entertaining. Starring: Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss, Rob Reiner, Conrad Bain, Marry Wickes, Annette Bening, Simon Callow. Directed by: Mike Nichols. A-

The Postman (Il Postino) (1994) PG drama

This wholly enchanting albeit slow-paced Italian-language drama is about a postman who befriends a controversial poet. The poet helps the postman win the woman of his dreams, teaches him the value of Communism, and helps him develop his own poetic skill. The characters are entirely engaging and the actors who portray them are perfect. I doubt I will ever forget this film. Starring: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Linda Moretti, Renato Scarpa, Anna Bonaiuto. Directed by: Michael Radford. A

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) NR drama

Engrossing drama about a drifter (John Garfield) who gets a job at a hamburger joint, and he sparks a hot romantic relationship with the owner's wife (Lana Turner). When the owner plans to sell the place and put her in charge of caretaking for his ailing sister, she and the drifter hatch a plan for . . . murder. This is peak film noir. Starring: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Linda Moretti, Renato Scarpa, Anna Bonaiuto. Directed by: Michael Radford. A

A Prairie Home Companion (2006) PG-13 comedy

Not to be confused with the real-life radio broadcast Prairie Home Companion, this is fictional version of it also happens to be hosted by Garrison Keillor (who wrote the screenplay). The program is a beloved fixture in its small Minnesota town, but it's time for it to hang up its hat. They're in their final broadcast. (Perhaps not coincidentally, this is also legendary director Roger Altman's final film.) Many of the program's most celebrated singers and musicians who've frequented the program are there to see it off. The camera acts like a fly buzzing from room to room and to its main stage as it sweeps through its ensemble of characters and catches little bits of conversation, mainly waxing nostalgic over the legendary program's final run. There's lots going on in this breezy and light film, and it's enjoyable keeping track of it all. And many of these actors not only put in excellent performances, coming off like salt-of-the-Earth types, but they can actually sing well too. There's an organic quality to their voices I find endearing. While this film isn't terribly complicated, there's one thing I'm uncertain about: the purpose behind two mysterious figures who are seen meandering around backstage -- one named Guy Noir (Kevin Kline), a detective reminiscent of Sam Spade, and then Virginia Madsen who apparently plays an angel. Maybe somebody thinks they can tell me for sure, but let's not spoil the mystery. Starring: Garrison Keillor, Kevin Kline, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Lindsay Lohan, Woody Harrelson, John C. Reilly, Tommy Lee Jones, Virginia Madsen, Maya Rudolph, Marylouise Burke, L.Q. Jones, Tim Russell, Tom Keith, Sue Scott. Directed by: Robert Altman. B+

The Preacher's Wife (1996) PG comedy

Penny Marshall directs this film about a black preacher (Courtney Vance) who is always busy. He hasn't much time to spend with his wife (Whitney Houston). He prays and asks for help, and he gets it via an angel (Denzel Washington). Only, he thinks that Washington is not an angel but a lunatic. This movie has an overly cutesy quality to it and the moral of it is unfocused. It's a disappointment, but it's a decent flick for the kids to catch on Disney. Starring: Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney Vance, Gregory Hines, Justin Pierce Edmund, Jenifer Lewis. Directed by: Penny Marshall. C

The Prestige (2006) PG-13 drama

This is one of the coolest movies of the decade. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman star as rival magicians who enter in a remarkably violent blood feud when Bale is blamed for the freak death of his wife. When Bale comes out with an amazing though inexplicable teleporting trick, Jackman stops at nothing but to find its secret. This film will keep you at the edge of your seat! David Bowie's brief appearance as Nicolas Tesla is an extra bonus. Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Samantha Mahurin, David Bowie, Andy Serkis. Directed by: Christopher Nolan. A-

Pretty in Pink (1986) PG-13 comedy

This is a rather awful but funny teen angst flick starring Molly Ringwald playing a poor girl who dates a rich boy and tries to fit in with the opposite social group. I wouldn't recommend this Romeo and Juliet clone to anyone except Ringwald fans or those who have soft spots for romance films. Starring: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts, James Spader. Directed by: Howard Deutch. C+

Pretty Woman (1990) R comedy

A pop-culture phenomenon at the time of release, this romantic comedy hasn't lost its luster. Mainly, the appeal is the everlasting charm of Julia Roberts who stars as Vivian, a prostitute who has a fateful encounter with a wealthy man, Edward (Richard Gere). He invites her to his room at his high-class hotel, at first a paying client, but then he is unexpectedly charmed by her. He even asks her to accompany him to business functions. Of course, she'll need a new wardrobe -- particularly as the trashy ensemble she wears got her some unwanted attention by the hotel manager. He doesn't want prostitutes hanging around his hotel. And then she is suddenly transformed, a la Pygmalion. But despite her sudden acceptance into high society, she can't shake it in her conscious where she comes from. As far as romance films go, this is an intriguing one -- their relationship is born smutty but then it turns out fairly wholesome. As much as I'd stop considerably short dubbing this film inspired, as it lacks a punchy script, it's an all in all pleasant romantic comedy. Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander, Hector Elizondo, Laura San Giacomo, Alex Hyde-White, Amy Yasbeck, Elinor Donahue, John David Carson, Judith Baldwin. Directed by: Garry Marshall. B+

Pride & Prejudice (2005) PG drama

A perfect movie, this oft-adapted Jane Austenís celebrated classic is just over two hours long (which is good for those without the patience to see the famous 1995 miniseries), and itís a pure delight from beginning to end. Kiera Knightly plays the sharp-tongued Elizabeth Bennet perfectly and the rest of the cast is superb. It hardly needed to be made, but even if youíve seen all the storyís screen renditions, you can surely spare some time for this one. Starring: Kiera Knightly, Matthew MacFadyen, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Tom Hollander, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Judi Dench. Directed by: Joe Wright. A+

Prime (2005) PG-13 comedy

A therapist (Meryl Streep) gets in a tangle when she discovers that her patient (Uma Thurman) has gotten into a relationship with her much-younger son (Bryan Greenburg). This is a well-done drama that is fun to watch because of the performances, but itís hardly the worldís most engaging character study. The filmmakers did a nice job with this and there are a handful of funny moments, but itís not worth going out of your way to see. Starring: Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Bryan Greenburg, Jon Abrahams, Zak Orth, Annie Parisse, Doris Belack, Jerry Alder, Madhur Jaffrey. Directed by: Ben Younger. B

Primer (2004) R sci-fi

It might be utterly confusing and jumbled, but this is something we need more of: Nerds making movies. Quite by accident, two nerds (Shane Carruth and David Sullivan) build a time machine in their garage. Ö They start using this machine to buy stock and gamble in sports events, but pretty soon, something weird starts to happenÖ Ultra low-budget film works best as hypnotic flows of dialogue than an intriguing story about time travel (because the ending lost me). Starring: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadyaya, Carrie Crawford, Jay Butler, John Carruth, Juan Tapia. Directed by: Shane Carruth. B

Primary Colors (1998) R comedy

John Travolta stars as a Clinton-like president who vows to never lie (yeah right). This political comedy does not offer much for entertainment; it's laced with terrible humor. However, it does provide an interesting fictionalized portrayal of President Bill Clinton, which broadens this film's appeal to those who are interested in political history. Starring: John Travolta, Emma Thompson, Billy Bob Thornton, Adrian Lester, Kathy Bates, Maura Tierney, Larry Hagman, Paul Guilfoyle, Caroline Aaron, Rebecca Walker. Directed by: Mike Nichols. C+

The Princess Bride (1988) PG fantasy

This movie is what truly defines a family film because it will appeal to little kids, teenagers, parents and even grandparents because the material of this film is so charming and clever. Wesley, a poor farm boy must rescue his true love, Buttercup, from the wicked Prince Humperdink, who is about to force her to wed him. On the way, he meets some colorful characters with their own interior motives. This is a fantastic classic with wonderful acting, great dialogue and an absorbing, humorous story. Starring: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Fred Savage, Peter Falk, Peter Cook, Carol Kane, Billy Crystal, Mel Smith. Directed by: Rob Reiner. A+

Princess Caraboo (1994) PG drama

This social satire type fairy tale is OK. The story isnít anything monumental, but itís an engaging one. Cates stars as a young woman who emerges from a shipwreck to reveal that she is royalty from a far off land. The movie is made even better with the mere presence of Jim Broadbent and Kevin Kline. Starring: Phoebe Cates, Jim Broadbent, Wendy Hughes, Kevin Kline, John Lithgow, Stephen Rea, Peter Eyre, Jacqueline Pearce, John Wells, John Lynch, John Sessions, Arkie Whiteley, David Sibley. Directed by: Michael Austin. B

The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016) NR documentary

The documentarians of this film are barely seen or heard, but they speak to us subtly through their subjects. This film is about the American prison system. It doesn't tell us what's wrong with it. It just gives us details--sometimes surprising--about its impacts on people. What's amazing is they were able to make this without ever filming inside a prison, preferring to talk to people tangentially related to the system. Those whose lives were impacted by it whether fairly or unfairly. There's an ex-convict who spends his days playing chess in the park, a game he learned during a stint in prison. A woman jailed over a dispute with the city over a trashcan who stayed in a cell ridden with feces. An entrepreneur who sells goods that can pass the unflinching, sometimes bizarrely inconsistent regulations. This movie makes me think about this social ill we have in our prison system, and that is incredibly valuable. Directed by: Brett Story. A-

The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975) PG comedy

Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft, who always give exceptional performances, star in this entertaining comedy as a couple who experience the hardships of living in the Big Apple. Jack Lemmon feels depressed because he thinks he's going nowhere in life and promptly gets fired from his job. Anne Bancroft, his wife, begins working leaving Jack Lemmon home all day, which literally drives him crazy. This is a good Neil Simon script that has its occasional slow spot but turns out to be more than what's needed to produce a fine flick. Starring: Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft, Gene Saks, Elizabeth Wilson, Florence Stanley, Maxine Stuart, Ed Peck, Gene Blakely, Sylvester Stallone. Directed by: Melvin Frank. B+

Private Benjamin (1980) R comedy

What might have been a one-joke comedy is given a breath of life thanks to Goldie Hawn's performance wherein she seems to effortlessly impart real human elements into her character. After all, when I feel as though I understand the characters as people, I find the comic situations they find themselves in so much funnier. Hawn stars as Judy Benjamin, born into wealth and accustomed to its luxuries so much that she'd never seriously contemplated life without them. But that's about to change when she's tricked into joining the U.S. Army by a recruiter (Harry Dean Stanton) who promises her world travel and luxury condos. She's in for a rude awakening, however, when she arrives at basic training and meets the rude drill sergeant (Hal Williams). I found myself laughing silly when Benjamin tried to convince her Captain (Eileen Brennan) that she must've joined the wrong army. Where the movie starts to fail me is its second act with a slowly developing and uninteresting romance. The lesson to be learned is that Benjamin had already proven, by sticking with the Army, she can be her own woman without the help of a man -- a point that could have easily been made without dedicating so much screen time to a dull romance. Nonetheless, this is a vastly entertaining comedy -- surely, one of the finer ones from the era. Starring: Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan, Armand Assante, Robert Webber, Sam Wanamaker, Barbara Barrie, Mary Kay Place, Harry Dean Stanton, Albert Brooks, Hal Williams, P.J. Soles, Sally Kirkland, Richard Herd, Gretchen Wyler, Craig T. Nelson. Directed by: Howard Zieff. B+

A Private Function (1984) R comedy

This funny and underrated comedy stars Michael Palin as a foot manicurist (with reference to Monty Python) in World War II who has to cope with food rationing. His wife (Maggie Smith) is sick of being lower class and convinces her husband to steal an illegally raised pig. Only, he can't bring himself to kill it, and it becomes his friend. This is a punchy British comedy that's very fun to watch. Starring: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Liz Smith, Denholm Elliott, Richard Griffiths, John Normington, Bill Paterson, Anthony Haygarth. Directed by: Malcolm Mowbray. B+

The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) PG-13 mystery

Sherlock Holmes is given unconventional treatment in this entertaining and witty mystery. The renown title character (Robert Stephens) is portrayed as a cocaine addicted homosexual, and Dr. Watson (Colin Blakely) is a short-tempered, cantankerous womanizer. These portrayals are often quite funny. This may or may not be what Arthur Conan Doyle had in mind for these characters, but I find these to be perfectly legitimate interpretations. The characters are merely subtexts to the film, however -- the focus being a convoluted, gimmicky, and fun mystery. The kind of top-flight, exciting storyline that continues to be the reason Sherlock Holmes is cinema's most popular detective. This mystery begins when an amnesiac Belgian woman Gabrielle (Genevieve Page) is deposited on the doorstep of 221B Baker Street. This leads Sherlock down an oddball trail where he encounters, among other things, a group of monks who've taken vows of silence, two dead circus dwarves, and a canary trafficking operation. Adding to the intrigue is Sherlock's smarter brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee) has a hand in it all. And then, as if all this isn't enough, Watson swears he'd actually spotted the monster of Loch Ness. While the gimmickry can be a bit of a drag, this remains one of those rare films that combines humor and mystery almost flawlessly. Huge recommendation to fans of either genre. Starring: Robert Stephens, Colin Blakely, Genevieve Page, Christopher Lee, Irene Handl, Clive Revill, Tamara Toumanova, Stanley Holloway, Mollie Maureen, Catherine Lacey, James Copeland. Directed by: Billy Wilder. A-

The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio (2005) PG-13 dramatic comedy

Set in the 1950s, Julianne Moore plays a headstrong mother of twelve, in this poignant comedy, who keeps the familyís struggling financial condition together by entering TV jingle contests. Woody Harrelson plays her tragic husband, a blue-collar worker who spends most of his paycheck on alcohol. Director/screenwriter Jane Anderson strives to keep this film punchy while tugging at heartstrings, but it comes off as forced. It remains a fitfully entertaining view. Starring: Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, Ellary Porterfield, Simon Reynolds. Directed by: Jane Anderson. C+

Problem Child (1992) PG comedy

A dud. I laughed precisely zero times. Which shouldn't have been the case considering how much I tend to appreciate films about precarious kids who outsmart adults. Which should have been this film, but it isn't. Nothing this particular kid (Michael Oliver) does is smart. Or funny. Throwing birthday gifts into a swimming pool? Throwing a goopy lunch up at the ceiling and getting it to stick? Setting his room on fire? He's just bad for the sake of being bad, and he's as uncomfortable for me to watch just as the characters in this film seem uncomfortable being in the same room as him. I at least appreciated John Ritter's and Amy Yasbeck's over-caffeinated performances -- but even that gets annoying, just like everything else in the film. I don't even understand how this became a cult classic. Skip it. Starring: John Ritter, Michael Oliver, Jack Warden, Amy Yasbeck, Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Richards. Directed by: Dennis Dugan. D-

The Producers (1968) PG comedy

Max Bialystok (Zero Mostel) is a washed-up Broadway producer who schemes with nebbish accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) to over-raise thousands for an intentional flop and then pocket the rest. Ensuring success means to select the most offensive play they can find, settling on "Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden." For a director, they secure the gaudiest, tasteless hack working on Broadway, and they hire an acid-brained beatnik to play Hitler. And yet, the play is a massive success, which gives rise to Bialystok's seminal lament "I was so careful . . . I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast . . . where did I go right?" Hilarious dialogue is elevated by inspired performances. Mostel's Bialystok is shamelessly sleazy -- he oozes out of every scene. His interactions with the uptight Bloom -- who still carries around his baby blanket and is prone to red-faced, toddler-like freak-outs—is comic gold. The Nazi author of the play (Kenneth Mars) has to be one of the most hysterically deranged characters ever captured on celluloid. Even supporting characters with only seconds onscreen flood it their wonderful, colorful idiosyncrasies. I find this film to be chock-full of wildly funny moments without a dull second. I used to watch this movie over and over again and its effect. This is Mel Brooks' directorial feature -- indeed a treasure of American comedy. Starring: Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Kenneth Mars, Estelle Winwood, Renee Taylor, Dick Shawn, Lee Meredith, Christopher Hewett, Andreas Voutsinas, David Patch. Directed by: Mel Brooks. A+

The Producers (2005) PG-13 musical

Though it's nowhere near as funny and endearing as the 1968 original, this update manages to catch the real energy of a Broadway musical. Nathan Lane stars as Max Bialystock, a Broadway producer who hasn't been able to produce anything but flops for the last few years. Matthew Broderick stars as Leo Bloom, an accountant who was sent to examine some inconsistencies in his taxes. Bloom makes a suggestion that you can make more money with a Broadway flop than with a hit, but he doesn't suspect that Bialystock would want to do it. Fans of the original will find it difficult to watch the line-for-line scenes recreated from the original, but the new stuff is fantastic! Starring: Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Ferrell, Gary Beach, Roger Bart, Eileen Essell, David Huddleston, Michael McKean, Jon Lovitz. Directed by: Susan Stroman. B

The Professionals (1966) NR western

This is a very well acted western about a group of early 20th Century cowboys who embark on an effort to save a kidnapped wife (Claudia Cardinale) of an industrialist from Mexican revolutionaries. Itís thought provoking as the plot cleverly blurs the lines between good guys and bad guys. Starring: Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, Claudia Cardinale, Woody Strode, Ralph Bellamy, Joe de Santis, Rafael Bertrand. Directed by: Richard Brooks. A-

The Program (1993) R drama

This college football drama is an entertaining, if unspectacular, one that tries to tackle relevant issues facing college sportsÖ everything from steroids, women, and the importance of academics. If youíre a football nut, then put this one on your list. If not, then donít go out of your way. Starring: James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps, Craig Sheffer, Kristy Swanson, Abraham Benrubi, Duane Davis, Jong Maynard Pennell, Andrew Bryniarski, J. Leon II Pridgen. Directed by: David S. Ward. B

Promising Young Woman (2020) R drama

Cassie Tomas (Carey Mulligan) is out for revenge against those she views as responsible for the rape and coverup of her former medical school classmate. She has also developed a habit of hanging around in bars pretending to be heavily intoxicated, waiting for the inevitable ill-intentioned guy to take her home. She lives for seeing the humiliated looks in their eyes when she suddenly sobers up and gives them a verbal lashing. In the meantime, she runs into a former medical student, and they seem like they'd gel together. But maintaining a serious relationship while living this double life proves difficult. While the premise of this film might be a little hokey, it's a genuinely cathartic experience watching this tough-as-nails character serve people their just desserts. Mulligan's performance is phenomenal. Starring: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Laverne Cox, Chris Lowell, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Sam Richardson, Alfred Molina, Molly Shannon, Steve Monroe. Directed by: Emerald Fennell. B+

Psycho (1960) NR horror

This is a pure chiller from the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. It's about a woman who steals a large quantity of cash and makes a run for it on an abandon highway. She makes the dreadful mistake of staying the night in an isolated motel where she meets her untimely death of being stabbed in the shower. This psychological thriller was put on a very low budget and is, arguably, Alfred Hitchcock's best! Watch for Ted Knight toward the end of the film, looking rather suspiciously into the camera. Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, Simon Oakland, John Anderson, Frank Albertson, Patricia Hitchcock, Ted Knight. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. A+

Pulp Fiction (1994) R action

Highly violent and highly quotable, this is the film that turned Quentin Tarantino into a household name (and John Travolta back into a household name). Itís not the grisly violence but the smart and usually hilarious dialogue and the lively pace that keeps the audience at the edge of their seat. This is a highly memorable film, considered by many to be the greatest of the 1990s, that features some of its stars' greatest career performances. Starring: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Maria de Medeiros, Frank Whaley, Quentin Tarantino, Angela Jones, Peter Greene, Julia Sweeney. Directed by: Quentin Tarantino. A+

Punchline (1988) R drama

Making a melodramatic movie about stand-up comedians wasnít a good idea to begin with. Tom Hanks stars as a medical student who is kicked out of college for academic dishonesty. Therefore, he has to better rely on his other job, stand-up comedy, for his future. Meanwhile, a housewife (Sally Field), takes on stand-up comedy despite pressures from her husband (John Goodman). Every dramatic moment in this film was misfired and groan inducing; the filmís only entertaining qualities come from the believable comedy routines. Starring: Sally Field, Tom Hanks, John Goodman, Mark Rydell, Kim Greist, Pamela Matteson, George Michael McGrath, Taylor Negron, Barry Neikrug, Angel Salazar, Damon Wayans. Directed by: David Seltzer. C-

The Purge (2013) R action

The premise of this film is ridiculous, and it's difficult for me to get past that to fully enjoy the action sequences, which are quite tense and well-executed. In the not-too-distant future, the United States has adopted a policy to legalize murder for 12 hours every year. The idea is that it reduces violent crime (because people with pent-up anger can just wait for Purge-time to let loose) and it eliminates unemployment apparently because unemployed people have trouble protecting themselves. Despite the obviously inhumane and horrific nature of this event, it has plenty of support in this society. The one-percenters, such as the Sandin family (Ethan Hawke, as the patriarch), are able to afford protection on their homes. But as they soon discover, it isn't fully Purge-proof. Starring: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane, Arija Kane, Arija Bareikis, Tom Yi, Chris Mukley, Tisha French, Rhys Wakefield. Directed by: James DeMonaco. C

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) PG-13 drama

Will Smith finally proves he has great acting abilities; the movie wouldn't have been nearly as good without him. He stars as a down-on-his-luck medical equipment salesman who struggles to support his son and has a massive falling-out with his wife. Despite the odds and difficulties, he tries out for an unpaid internship at a stockbroker firm. He gets the position, but he's a single father without a college education. Furthermore, he becomes homeless for awhile. Can he manage to stand out over the other 19 interns to land the job? This is an engaging film. Starring: Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith, Brian Howe, James Karen, Dan Castellaneta, Kurt Fuller, Takayo Fischer, Mark Christopher Lawrence. Directed by: Gabriele Muccino. B+

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | XYZ