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List of "R" Movies

Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) PG drama

This movie is about the adventures of three Aborigine girls who are abducted by the government circa 1930. They manage to escape, and they try to find their way home whilst dodging the tracker. This movie makes a good political statement without getting preachy. For the most part, it is engaging and contains memorable performances. Starring: Everlyn Sampi, Tianna Sansbury, Laura Monaghan, David Gulpilil, Kenneth Branagh, Deborah Mailman, Jason Clarke. Directed by: Phillip Noyce. B+

Radio Days (1987) PG comedy

Woody Allen directs and supplies a voice in this enjoyable tribute to the times before television. It centers around a boy (who probably grows up into Woody Allen) and how his life was effected by the radio. It gets real funny at times and the number of stars and cameos are a real treat. This isn't one of Allen's finest, but this sure is treasurable. Starring: Mia Farrow, Seth Green, Julie Kavner, Josh Mostel, Michael Tucker, Dianne Wiest, Wallace Shawn, Tito Puente, Danny Aiello, Jeff Daniels, Tony Roberts, Dianne Keaton, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Kenneth Mars. Directed by: Woody Allen. B+

The Radioland Murders (1994) PG comedy

This is by no means a great film, but it is a bit underrated. Whereas many critics end up completely panning it, this comedy is quite alright. The cast, at least, is good consisting of such notables as Ned Beatty, Michael McKean, Jeffrey Tambor, and Christopher Lloyd. The two stars, the unfamiliar Brian Benben and the usually mediocre Mary Stuart Masterson, are even entertaining. The story, created by George Lucas, is an interesting one about a radio station's maiden broadcast and some of its key personnel turn up murdered. The script is bit of a mess, but you'll be able to sort it out. Starring: Brian Benben, Mary Stuart Masterson, Ned Beatty, George Burns, Scott Michael Campbell, Brion James, Michael Lerner, Michael McKean, Jeffrey Tambor, Stephen Toblowski, Christopher Lloyd, Larry Miller, Anita Morris, Corbin Bernsen, Rosemary Clooney, Bobcat Goldthwait, Dylan Baker. Directed by: Mel Smith. B

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) PG action/adventure

This is pure fun from the winning combo of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The first of the Indiana Jones trilogy, and it's certainly the best. Indiana Jones must recover the Ark of the Covenant before the evil Nazis do who plan to use it as a weapon that will most certainly give them the needed power to win the war. This is a perfect adventure that awed audiences for nearly 20 years with its bag full of thrills and chills. Its sequels even rule. Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Wolf Kahler, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Anthony Higgins, Alfred Molina. Directed by: Steven Spielberg. A+

Raising Arizona (1987) PG-13 comedy

Written and directed by the Coen Brothers, this flick is slick, stylish, entertaining and unpredictable. Nicolas Cage, a criminal, and Holly Hunter, a cop, get married. Once this couple discovers that they can't physically have a baby and Cage (being a criminal) they're not allowed to adopt, so they do the next best thing: They steal one! This is a well-written, well-directed, well-acted and a delicious comedy that is highly strange and unique. Not for all tastes; this movie is only for those with good taste. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Randall "Tex" Cobb, Francis McDormand, Sam McMurray, M. Emmet Walsh. Directed by: Joel Coen. A

Raising Helen (2004) PG-13 comedy

This is an unfocused but charming date flick starring Kate Hudson as a young, flighty fashion consultant whose life is turned around when she inherits her sister’s three kids. Hudson is strong in the lead and Joan Cusack turns in a typically goofy performance as the other sister, a rigid and slightly demented mother. The film is predictable and transparent, and I didn’t like the ending at all. Starring: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Hector Elizondo, Helen Mirren, Hayden Panettiere, Spencer Breslin, Abigail Breslin, Sakina Jaffrey, Kevin Kilner, Felicity Huffman, Sean O’Bryan. Directed by: Garry Marshall. C

Raging Bull (1980) R drama

One of Martin Scorsese’s most fascinating films; it’s a character study about the life of a boxer who can’t seem to tame himself down outside of the ring. Very few films ever capture the essence of the brute like this one does! Robert De Niro plays the lead character with yet another career-making performance. It’s considered a classic, and that’s for good reason. Starring: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent, Nicholas Colasanto, Theresa Saldana, Mario Gallo, Frank Adonis, Joseph Bono. Directed by: Martin Scorsese. A+

Ran (1984) R drama

Akira Kurosawa’s classic rendition of William Shakespeare’s King Lear is a film not to be missed by anyone. This tragedy about the bitter loss of a powerful family and the lust for power is brought to inspired poetry by this celebrated Japanese director. Set in Medieval Japan, a warlord announces that he is retiring from the throne. But his sons aren’t as polite to each other and himself, as he slowly degrades into senility. The acting and the cinematography are top-notch. Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu, Mieko Harada, Yoshiko Miyazaki, Hishashi Yui. Directed by: Akira Kurosawa. A+

Rat Race (2001) PG-13 comedy

The ensemble cast in this It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World homage is the appeal of this film. But for my money, it's Rowan Atkinson playing an Italian version of his Mr. Bean character that steals the show. (Runner-up is Cuba Gooding Jr. who finds himself driving a bus full of annoying Lucille Ball cosplayers to New Mexico.) Nonetheless, this dozen or so people undergoing a madcap dash from Las Vegas to New Mexico to collect $2 million in prize money might hardly be great cinema, but it's perfectly diverting. Starring: Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Dave Thomas, Breklin Mayer, Kathy Najimy, Amy Smart, Dean Cain, Jenica Bergere, Carrie Diamond, Douglas Haase, Wayne Knight, Kathy Bates. Directed by: Jerry Zucker. B-

The Raven (1963) G horror

Excellent (and humorous) performances from Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff highlight the already-good screenplay adapted from that classic Edgar Allen Poe story. Price plays a wizard who is visited by a raven (Lorre). Lorre then tells Price about seeing a woman who looks like Price’s dead wife at another wizard’s (Karloff) castle. Together, with Lorre’s son (Jack Nicholson) and Price’s daughter (Olive Sturgess), they make the venture to the house. This is a highly entertaining film that’s good for both adults and children. The end features a very funny wizard duel. And you did read that right. That is the same One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Jack Nicholson in one of his very early roles. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best films that B-movie director Roger Corman ever did. Splendid. Starring: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, Olive Sturgess, Jack Nicholson, Connie Wallace, William Baskin. Directed by: Roger Corman. A-

Ray (2004) PG-13 drama

Jaime Foxx delivers his Academy Award performance with an impeccable portrayal of Ray Charles. Besides Foxx, this biopic manages to not only be engaging and heartbreaking, but it’ll make you want to know more about the film’s subject after you’re through watching it! Nothing could be more of a compliment to anyone trying to make a biopic … nothing. Starring: Jaime Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King, Clifton Powell, Harry J. Lenniz, Bokeem Woodbine, Aunjanue Ellis, Sharon Warren, C.J. Sanders, Curtis Armstrong, Richard Schiff. Directed by: Taylor Hackford. A

Real Genius (1985) PG comedy

The nerd shall inherit the earth. At least that was the case in popular cinema in the mid-'80s -- this being among the finer triumphs. What it has going for it are a couple of rare commodities: humor and heart. A 15-year-old genius and inventor Mitch (Gabriel Jarret) is whisked out of high school and into one of the top technical colleges in the country. He is put on a special project to develop a high-powered laser beam for world renowned professor Jeffrey Hathaway (William Atherton). They don't know it, but their professor is corrupt and plans to sell this technology to war profiteers so that they can precision-zap things from outer space. Mitch's roommate is Chris (Val Kilmer), a senior and boy wonder. In the not-too-distant past, he studied hard, but he'd since realized that he's enough of a genius that he could still do pretty well just skirting by. He also fights authority, which is always fun to watch. He harbors an antagonistic relationship with Hathaway and likes to pull high-tech pranks on some of his brown-nosing peers. While Chris comes off aloof and acidic, he proves to be an extraordinary and genuinely good mentor to his friend to Mitch -- showing him that there's more to life than pleasing professors and burying his nose in books. While this film doesn't rise that far above the archetypal teen comedy -- the characters being awfully one-note, the ending quite over-the-top. But plenty of thought went into this joyful, often very funny comedy. Starring: Val Kilmer, Gabe Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, William Atherson, Patti D'Arbanville, Robert Prescott, Louis Gaimbalvo, Ed Lauter, Jonathan Gries, Tommy Swerdlow, Mark Kamiyama. Directed by: Martha Coolidge. B+

Real Women Have Curves (2002) PG-13 drama

An excellent film about a Latina high school graduate who is suited for higher education, but her mother keeps her at home, working at the dressmaking factory. The characters are engaging, and it is well acted. The underwear scene was crap, though. Starring: America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros, Ingrid Oliu, George Lopez, Brian Sites. Directed by: Patricia Cardoso. A-

Reality Bites (1994) PG-13 comedy/drama

This film revolves around a group of college graduates who not only have a remarkably difficult time finding jobs, but a hard time finding their identity. It wants to be profound, but I didn't find it as such. However, it is entertaining and the good cast is this film's strongest point. If you love this movie for its insight on the 90's gen-X culture, then good for you. Starring: Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, Steve Zahn, Ben Stiller, Swoosie Kurtz, Harry O'Reilly, Susan Norfleet, Joe Don Baker, Renee Zellweger, James Rothenberg, John Mahoney, Eric Stuart, Barry Sherman. Directed by: Ben Stiller. B-

Rear Window (1955) NR thriller

This Alfred Hitchcock flick is nothing less than excellent. It stars James Stewart as a man confined to a wheelchair who begins spying on his rather busy neighbors outside the window. As he is studying, he is led to believe that one man has actually murdered his wife! The entire movie is an intriguing character study and is brought to a conclusion that is frighteningly chilling. This is rightfully considered one of Hitchcock's finest. Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. A+

Rear Window (1998) NR thriller

If Christopher Reeve really wanted to be in a movie after his paralysis, then I guess this is the remake for him. He plays the wheelchair stricken man left to do nothing in his apartment but to spy on his neighbors. Soon, he believes that one of them killed his spouse. When he tells the police and his friends, nobody believes him except for his coworker played by Daryl Hannah. Naturally inferior to the original, this update has a lesser dialogue and technology seems to undermine the story. In the '50s, when the original took place, everybody had their blinds withdrawn because they had their windows open due to the heat. In the '90s everybody has air conditioning so it brings out the question: why the blinds are withdrawn? (I'm thinking too hard!) Sometimes the film tries to be inspirational noting how Christopher Reeve recovered his injuries despite the odds, which really didn't do anything for the movie. On the bright side, the conclusion is wonderfully thrilling. It was copied directly from Hitchcock's movie, but ... whatever. Starring: Christopher Reeve, Daryl Hannah, Robert Forster, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Anne Twomey, Ritchie Coster, Allison Mackie, Ali Marsh. Directed by: Jeff Bleckner. C+

Rebecca (1940) NR thriller

Excellent, spooky and an early film of director Alfred Hitchcock, "Rebecca" holds your attention to the very end! A rich widower played by Laurence Olivier marries a shy and clumsy secretary. When she moves into Olivier's mansion, everyone seems to be comparing her with the original and recently departed wife, Rebecca, which almost drives her insane. The police concluded that Rebecca's death was because she drowned in a boat that accidentally capsized but new evidence suggests that it was caused otherwise. This is tremendously haunting and tremendously entertaining. It gets full marks! Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Goerge Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, C. Aubrey Smith, Reginald Denny, Gladys Cooper, Philip Winter, Edward Fielding, Florence Bates. Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock. A+

Red Eye (2005) PG-13 horror

This under-90-minute feature film from director Wes Craven stars Rachel McAdams as the concierge of a prestigious hotel. Assassin (Cillian Murphy) holds her hostage on an airplane and forces her to call her hotel to change the room number of a powerful politician. She resists, of course, but he quickly reveals that he has a killer waiting outside her father's (Brian Cox) home. It's a fairly ridiculous film that's only somewhat exciting. It makes a decent popcorn flick. Starring: Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Brian Cox, Jayma Mays, Jack Scalia, Colby Donaldson. Directed by: Wes Craven. B-

Red Heat (1988) R action

Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi make an unlikely combo in this 48 hrs.-like police flick. Schwarzenegger plays a Soviet looking for a drug dealer in the States. Belushi plays a Chicago cop with a smart mouth. Obviously this team doesn't seem like it would work well together, but you never know. As this movie closed, only one thing comes to mind: It's nothing special. Action lovers will only want to see it for Arnold, and others shouldn't want to see it at all. Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Peter Boyle, Ed O'Ross, Laurence Fishburne, Gina Gershon, Richard Bright, J.W. Smith, Brent Jennings. Directed by: Walter Hill. C+

Reds (1981) PG drama

A notable biography/drama depicting the life of American communist, John Reed, who tried to convert the American lifestyle and ideals to his own ways of thinking. An interesting aspect of this film is that it's narrated in the first person by people who have actually been there and seen it happen. This film would have been much better if Reed's dull love life wasn't included and the film wasn't so lengthy. This film's not for everybody; only see if this sort of thing typically interests you. Wonderful performances from Beatty and Keaton! Starring: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Jack Nicholson, Paul Sorvino, Maureen Stapleton, Nicolas Coster, Gene Hackman, William Daniels, Max Wright, M. Emmet Walsh, Ian Wolfe, Bessie Love, George Plimpton, Dolph Sweet, Josef Sommer. Directed by: Warren Beatty. B

The Reduced Shakespeare Company (2000) NR comedy

Anyone who likes Shakespeare and has a penchant for goofy humor cannot miss this stage performance of a trio of actors who attempt to perform the entire works of Shakespeare in 90 minutes. Their work is so compact that they manage to perform Hamlet four times; once was in 30 seconds backwards. A lot of this stuff is forced, specifically the spats between the performers. But it's all done for laughs, and it succeeds formidably! Starring: Adam Long, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor. Directed by: Paul Kafno. A

The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker (1959) NR comedy

This is a strange one. It has the tone of an aw-shucks Cheaper By the Dozen family picture. Except it's about an unapologetic bigamist, Mr. Pennypacker (Clifton Webb). He is a business executive at the turn of the 20th Century who has two large families -- one in Harrisburg and one in Philadelphia. They are completely unaware of each other. The movie opens with all 19 of his children from both marriages introducing themselves in a Mickey Mouse Club style roll call. I dare say this would have been a pretty dull family picture if not for me watching it the whole time wide-eyed and mouth agape, like I'm watching the author's cut of Springtime for Hitler. Now, I'm suspicious I'm missing something -- this was adapted from a successful Broadway show. Perhaps the original had satirical elements that got lost in the screen adaptation. Or maybe I'm just trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. Apparently, at any rate, bigamy wasn't as hot button a social issue in 1959 as interracial marriages. Anyhow, Pennypacker gets away with this ruse because he splits time between his company's two regional offices. While in Philadelphia, his Harrisburg family is given strict instruction to not contact him. And vice versa. He says it's because he's too busy, and he cannot be disturbed. He breaks this cycle when his eldest daughter is engaged to be married. He breaks protocol and travels to Harrisburg early to revel in the happy occasion. However, one of his Philadelphia sons needs to contact him and manages to track him down his his Harrisburg house. That's when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Despite this movie being such a bizarre misfire that ages about as horribly as soft cheese, I'm found myself very interested by it. Even if it's just for perverse reasons. Starring: Clifton Webb, Dorothy McGuire, Charles Coburn, Jill St. John, Ron Ely, Ray Stricklyn, David Nelson, Dorothy Stickney, Larry Gates, Richard Deacon. Directed by: Harry Levin. C

Rembrandt (1936) NR drama

Dutch painter Rembrandt (Charles Laughton) had only just finished delivering a beautiful monologue about how much he loves his wife when he receives the horrid news of her sudden passing. Rembrandt is a respectable, widely celebrated painter known for his idealized portraits of Dutch dignitaries. But as a widower, he goes slightly mad and starts to paint realistic pictures. Soldiers expecting to see themselves in a courtly group picture, valiant after mighty conquests, instead see themselves depicted as they really are -- messy, preparing for battle. This painting becomes known colloquially as "The Night Watch," the soldiers see as mocking them, and it is met with laughs and scorn amongst the high society. Nevertheless, Rembrandt continues to explore realism in his works, forgoing money, which eventually runs out. He does embark on further romance with Hendrickje (Elsa Lancaster) but that hardly rekindles his interest in making money. This is an enjoyable film dependably spearheaded by Laughton's performance, as he reads from the wonderfully poetic script. The camerawork and elaborate 17th Century set-designs keep the film easy on the eyes. But vitally, what it lacks is a compelling narrative to drive it towards a solid conclusion. As Rembrandt drives himself into financial ruin, so fades away the intrigue of his character. Nonetheless, this is a decent classic movie. Starring: Charles Laughton, Gertrude Lawrence, Elsa Lanchester, Edward Chapman, Walter Hudd, Roger Livesey, Herbert Lomas, Allan Jeayes, John Clements. Directed by: Alexander Korda. B-

Remember the Titans (2000) PG sports

This is a good football flick about new black coach, Denzel Washington, of a high school football team in a newly integrated school in the '70s. It succeeds in depicting the tension between the different races and how they eventually come to resolve it. Many sports scenes are good, but the film's strongest point is the craftful character development. It's not a great film but worthy of your view. Starring: Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Donald Faison, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Ethan Suplee, Nicole Parker, Hayden Panettiere, Kip Pardue, Craig Kirkwood. Directed by: Boaz Yakin. B+

Renaissance Man (1994) PG-13 comedy

Danny DeVito stars as a recently unemployed advertising man who reluctantly takes a job teaching a classroom of army recruits how to "comprehend" events on the battlefield. He ends up teaching them Hamlet. This is frequently sappy and adolescent, but it has its moments. Directed by Penny Marshall; she's not at her best. Starring: Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, James Remar, Cliff Robertson, Lillo Brancato Jr., Stacey Dash, Kadeem Hardison, Richard T. Jones, Khalil Kain, Peter Simmons, Ed Begley Jr. Directed by: Penny Marshall. C+

The Replacements (2000) PG-13 sports

A professional football team decides to go on strike because they want an extra million dollars or two added to their paycheck. Rather than complying with their demand, the owner decides to hire temporary replacements. As expected, they're the usual brand of nitwits. This movie sure toys around with a good idea delivering the basic idea that pro-football has lost its value, because all players are interested in is cash, but it doesn't run with it. It's too cute and audience-pleasing (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Starring: Keanu Reeves, Gene Hackman, Brooke Langton, Orlando Jones, Jon Favreau, Jack Warden, Rhys Ifans, Michael Jace, Troy Winbrush, John Madden, Pat Summerall. Directed by: Howard Deutch. B-

The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) PG comedy

Somebody stole the precious Pink Panther diamond again, and it's up to Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) to find it. This is the famed revival of the Pink Pather series after A Shot in the Dark was released in 1964, and it's certainly worth seeing! Sellers is as brilliant as usual. Starring: Peter Sellers, Christopher Plummer, Catherine Schell, Herbert Lom, Peter Arne, Burt Kwouk, Andre Maranne, Gregoire Aslan, Peter Jeffrey, David Lodge. Directed by: Blake Edwards. B

Revenge of the Nerds (1984) R comedy

Another entry in the cacophony of sex comedies released in the '80s, but this seems to have earned an enduring place in pop culture thanks to it being rather cathartic to self-identified outsiders. Two friends, Lewis (Robert Carradine) and Gilbert (Anthony Edwards) are set up nicely in their freshman dormitory until some jocks carelessly burn down their fraternity and take over the freshman dorms. The "cool" ones among the displaced quickly find spots in fraternity houses. The ones left behind are the nerds. So what else is there for them but to start their own fraternity? While firmly a low-brow comedy, this movie is filled with fun characters and benefits from a pretty steady supply of laughs. Unfortunately, it also contains some cringe, particularly one moment in which the nerds place hidden cameras in a sorority house and then distribute nude pictures of the queen bee Betty (Julie Montgomery) around campus. Starring: Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Timothy Busfield, Andrew Cassese, Curtis Armstrong, Larry B. Scott, Brian Tochi, Julie Montgomery, Michelle Meyrink, Ted McGinley, Matt Salinger. Directed by: Jeff Kanew. B

Revenge of the Nerds II (1987) PG-13 comedy

Everything that Revenge of the Nerds was lovable for is conspicuously absent in this remarkably unfunny sequel. When the nerds go to a regional greek conference, they are met with a less than enthusiastic reception. They are thrown out of their hotel for being too geeky and their status within the greek system is jeopardized from a few hating members. Ninety-nine percent of the gags fall flat. Starring: Robert Carradine, Curtis Armstrong, Larry B. Scott, Timothy Busfield, Donald Gibb, Andrew Cassese, Bradley Whitford, Ed Lauter, Barry Sobel, Courtney Thorne-Smith. Directed by: Joe Roth. D-

The Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) PG comedy

This is a worthy addition to the Pink Panther series, and it is amusing with a few genuine laughs though the plot is weak. The bumbling French detective (Peter Sellers) is mistakenly pronounced dead, but he continues his mission to capture an evil drug lord. The jokes and the supporting cast only suffices but "Panther" fans will still undoubtedly enjoy it. Starring: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Dyan Cannon, Robert Webber, Burt Kwouk, Paul Stewart, Robert Loggia, Graham Stark, Tony Beckley, Valerie Leon, Andrew Sachs. Directed by: Blake Edwards. B

Riding in Cars With Boys (2001) PG-13 comedy

Drew Barrymore once had great ambitions in life, but they were spoiled when she was merely 15 when she got pregnant. The father of the child (Steve Zahn) must marry Barrymore, who further declines into the delusions that she has lost her grip of her dreams. Director Penny Marshall helmed this comedy even though she would have been well advised to turn up the comedy and toned down the sap. It's still a decent watch, however. Starring: Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Brittany Murphy, Damien Garcia, Lorraine Bracco, James Woods, Sara Gilbert, Desmond Harrington, David Moscow, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Facinelli, Marissa Ryan, Mika Boreem. Directed by: Penny Marshall. B-

The Right Stuff (1983) PG drama

This is an excellent film about what it takes to be an astronaut. The film greatly succeeds in telling the story about what the original seven astronauts, Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper, Gus Grissom, etc., went through to meet the qualifications of the job. All history buffs should see this, and so should every kid who wants to be an astronaut. Starring: Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid, Fred Ward, Barbara Hershey, Kim Stanley, Veronica Cartwright, Pamela Reed, Scott Paulin, Charles Frank, Lance Henriksen, Donald Moffat, Levon Helm. Directed by: Philip Kaufman. A-

The Ring (2002) PG-13 horror

It seems as though you can count the number of effective PG-13 horror films with the fingers of one hand. However, this film is surely among them. It not only has some genuinely chilling images and horrifying jump scares, it has that kind of mystical, gothic atmosphere that haunts my mind days after the film is finished. Naomi Watts stars as Rachel Keller, a Seattle-area journalist whose young niece suddenly dies. The death appears to be connected to a mysterious VHS tape that she'd seen just a week prior to that. The contents of the tape seem on the surface to be a bizarre arthouse short subject film, but after the viewer finishes watching it, a nearby phone rings and a voice can be heard whispering "seven days." Nice at least of ghouls to continue following the living's conventions of the standard week. Rachel, being a journalist, continues to rewatch the tape and study it, with the help of her videographer ex-boyfriend (Martin Henderson). They eventually recognize local landmarks hidden in the images -- a lead, which might help them understand the origins of this tape. Which she does all the while experiencing horrifying hallucinations. In particular frightening images of a young girl with her face completely obscured by her long, scraggly, black hair. This blend of horror and mystery is done expertly -- the horror being what's scary, the mystery being what's haunting. Watts gives a fine-tuned performance as a woman who's frightened but also brave and determined enough to take what haunts her head on. While the ending is fine, it's one that tries to explain things (thus not leaving much to the imagination), but I also feel it doesn't explain things enough. Apart from that, this remains a horror film that's expertly crafted. Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, David Dorfman, Brian Cox, Jane Alexander, Lindsay Frost, Pauley Perrette, Amber Tamblyn, Rachael Bella, Sara Rue, Shannon Cochran, Daveigh Chase. Directed by: Gore Verbinski. A-

The Ringer (2004) PG-13 comedy

Johnny Knoxville stars in this lacking comedy as a former track star who pretends that he's mentally retarded and competes in the Special Olympics. It's a premise that shows some promise for the mean-spirited crowd, but the jokes aren't funny. Furthermore, the filmmakers didn't bother developing the dramatic plot points in any believable fashion. Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Jed Rees, Bill Chott, Edward Barnabell, Leonard Earl Howze, Geoffrey Arend, John Taylor, Luis Avalos, Leonard Flowers. Directed by: Barry W. Blaustein. C-

Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) NR drama

This was considered gritty back in its day, and it was even banned in some countries. Today, it comes off quite tame. Regardless, this engaging film noir is about prisoners who stage a riot to demand better treatment. They take guards hostage for a tense stand-off with the warden who, for what it's worth, sympathizes with their grievances. Just that it's the state government that makes the rules. He only runs the place. This film, beyond its basic entertainment value, provides some good insight into the prison system that continues to be relevant to this day. Most importantly, it serves as a reminder that prisoners are human beings, not yesterday's trash. A sobering statistic mentioned here that I doubt changed much is 65% of inmates commit crimes again once they get out. Reflectively, the warden says that indicates he's not doing his job. Starring: Neville Brand, Emile Meyer, Frank Fallen, Leo Gordon, Robert Osterloh, Paul Frees, Don Keefer, Alvy Moore, Dabbs Greer, Whit Bissell. Directed by: Don Siegel. B+

Risky Business (1983) R comedy

Tom Cruise stars as a do-gooder high school student who is left home alone in his house while his parents are away. As a joke, one of his friends (Curtis Armstrong) invites a prostitute over to the house. One thing leads to another and … Tom Cruise becomes a pimp! This brilliant film features a performance from Cruise that he struggles to top to this day, and Hollywood rarely releases comedies better than this. This film is truly great. Starring: Tom Cruise, Rebecca De Mornay, Joe Pantoliano, Richard Masur, Bronson Pinchot, Curtis Armstrong, Nicholas Pryor, Janet Carroll, Shera Danese. Directed by: Paul Brickman. A

Road To Bali (1952) NR comedy

There's so much winking to the camera and references to '50s pop culture that this didn't age well. Although I somehow doubt 1952 audiences would have been roaring with laughter, either. These days, this film might be interesting for culture historians to test themselves. Otherwise for the normal viewer, there aren't whole lot of laughs here . . . but there's still some thanks to the humorous banter between the everlastingly likable Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The story centers around the pair escaping their fiancees in Australia by traveling to Indonesia where they meet and vie for the love interest of Princess Lala (Dorothy Lamour). Starring: Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour, Murvyn Lee, Peter Coe, Leon Askin, Carolyn Jones, Michael Ansara, Harry Cording. Directed by: Hal Walker. C

Road to Perdition (2002) R drama

Thoroughly absorbing, often heart-wrenching Prohibition gangster drama with a perfect cast. Tom Hanks is simultaneously a cold blooded hit man and a warm, caring father who suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the Chicago crime family he'd worked for all his life. This is big Hollywood, and the execution is phenomenal--a dark and somber road trip, a father and son bond that flourishes under intense tragedy. Beautifully filmed. Paul Newman in one of his last great roles as the crime boss with his harrowing, piercing blue-eyed stare. And I'll never be able to get that creepy grin from Daniel Craig out of my mind. Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Craig, Tyler Hoechlin, Liam Aiken, Siaran Hinds. Directed by: Sam Mendes. A

Robin Hood (1991) NR adventure

Don't do what I did and confuse this medieval adventure with Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This is a made-for-television account of the legendary crook's adventures that's too cliched and corny. Its action, however, is exhilarating, and that's the only real reason you'd want to see this. Starring: Patrick Bergin, Uma Thurman, Jurgen Prochnow, Edward Fox, Jeroen Krabbe, Owen Teale, Anthony O'Donnell, Gabrielle Reidy, Barry Stanton Danny Webb, Gabrielle Lloyd. Directed by: John Irvin. B-

Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) PG-13 comedy

Mel Brooks gives Robin Hood his treatment in this occasionally funny flick. Cary Elwes does an impressive job in spoofing the title character, but the rest of the cast is below par. Not as good as other Brooks films, naturally, but it contains just enough laughs to please his devoted fans. Starring: Cary Elwes, Richard Lewis, Roger Rees, Amy Yasbeck, Mel Brooks, David Chappelle, Mark Blankfield, Tracey Ullman, Eric Allan Kramer, Megan Cavanagh, Dom De Luise, Dick Van Patten, Patrick Stewart. Directed by: Mel Brooks. B-

Robo Vampire (1988) NR (R-equivalent) sci-fi

I was expecting the movie to be about some metallic version of Dracula and there being a Van Helsing type who has to figure out how to penetrate its metallic skin with a wooden stake. Alas, Robo Vampire is just a guy who wears what looks like a silver RoboCop Halloween costume. His enemies are these weird "vampires" with white face paint who incessantly hop up and down with their arms stiff and outstretched. This is a bizarre mash-up of horror, science fiction, and kung-fu. A bad movie by almost anybody's standards -- the picture quality is middling, and I had a nearly impossible time trying to figure out what's going on. They seemed to exhaust their special effects budget with $100-worth of fireworks. But I have to say, despite its super-cheap budget, I enjoyed this in a Mystery Science 3000 kind of way up until its awful final third. Some highlights: Dead people suddenly develop goop on their faces and then spring alive. There's a white witch figure who wears a see-through dress (and can't act worth a darn) who actually ends up with a few decent fight scenes. But the one part that actually shocked me involved a woman who splits open a dead cow to put a few bags of drugs in its carcass. AND SHE USED A REAL COW. Starring: Robin Mackay, Harry Myles, Nick Norman, David Borg, Alan Drury. Directed by: Godfrey Ho. C-

RoboCop (1987) R sci-fi

A film that hits all its targets. Vivid practical effects that adorn tense, grizzly action scenes, with the backdrop of a thoughtful sci-fi premise that riffs Asimov's I, Robot and filtered through a darkly comic lens. It's all marvelously done and thoroughly entertaining. Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is ruthlessly gunned down by gangsters--the ringleader (Kurtwood Smith) unceremoniously delivering the critical blow between the eyes. By all accounts, Alex should be dead and gone. He was a family man, a loving father and husband and also a loyal albeit short-lived partner to Anne (Nancy Allen). He unwittingly gets a second life thanks to industrialist Bob Morton (Jose Ferrer) who has the technology for the next generation of cops--cyborgs. The purely robotic ones having been tried but proven catastrophic after a prototype malfunctioned and gunned down a man during a board meeting in a gruesomely hilarious scene. Alex, now dubbed RoboCop, is virtually immortal and equipped with a brain part-mechanical with machine logic, but with the biological components intact that provide critical human instinct. RoboCop's memory was supposed to have been wiped clean, but he has flashes of recollections of his family as well as events that led up to his death. He ends up going semi-rogue to track down those responsible. Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Dan O'Herlihy, Robert Do'Qui, Miguel Ferrer, David Packer, Neil Summers, Sage Parker, Kevin Page, Diane Robin, Felton Perry. Directed by: Paul Verhoeven. A

RoboCop 2 (1990) R sci-fi

It's good at mimicking the look of the first film, but it doesn't capture the essence. Nevertheless, there's plenty of goodness here to make this a fun watch. Not the least of which is Peter Weller who reprises his role as the title character. He's a metallic hulk who smashes heads and looks good doing it. But the filmmakers do his character a considerable disservice by cutting short his humanity. In the first film, he was a man trapped inside a robot. In this sequel, he represses these emotions, succumbing almost entirely to machine logic. There's a scene in which he tells his former wife that the human once inside him is dead. That should have been intensely emotional, but it hits a dead note. Because for all I can tell, what he says is true. The special effects continue to be impressive, albeit without doing much the first film doesn't already do. The villain is disappointing, though--hardly a scuzzball. One thing I appreciate though is the screenwriters don't forget to inject humor. One of the funnier moments occurs after a committee of bureaucrats vote on how they'd like to reprogram RoboCop. The result: he stops a bunch of kids from looting a store, but he's too busy politely lecturing them about manners to prevent them from running away. As much as it lacks the smartness of the first film, I still prefer it to the typical action fare. Starring: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Belinda Bauer, Dan O'Herlihy, Felton Perry, Tom Noonan, Willard E. Pugh, Gabriel Damon, Galyn Gorg, Stephen Lee. Directed by: Irvin Kershner. B-

Rocky (1976) PG sports

This classic boxing film sets the standards for all sports movies to come! Rocky Balboa, small-time boxer, is given the chance to fight the number one boxing champion in the nation for the title. Of course, being the underdog, he hasn't a fighting chance but decides to make the best of it. The boxing sequence at the end of the film is superb. It is highlighted by great performance by Stallone and Burgess Merideth. Stallone, who wrote the screenplay, never came close to matching this ever again. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Thayer David. Directed by: John G. Avildson. A

Rocky Balboa (2006) PG drama

You might have laughed at Sylvester Stallone for merely thinking about reviving his boxing character after all this time, but he managed to pull it off. Balboa is 60 and running a restaurant, but he is unhappy about it. Adrian died a few years ago, and he is still devastated. He has something he must get out of his system, and the only way he can properly do that is to get back in the ring. The film is marred by a few too many melodramatic episodes, but it's a fantastic revisit of the series. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Tarver, Burt Young, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Burton, James Francis Kelly III, Geraldine Hughes. Directed by: Sylvester Stallone. B

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) R musical

Absolutely demented horror/musical/comedy which has absolutely nothing to show for it except its fun songs and Tim Curry's spirited debut performance. A man and his fiancee's car breaks down in the middle of pouring rain, so they head for the nearest spooky castle to make a phone call. They are greeted by a creepy butler and find themselves in the middle of the Annual Transylvania Convention (full of crudely-dresses transvestites). After that point, the plot of the film is lost and most of the material relies on poor humor and sick jokes. Through the years, this film has become a cult classic, famous for midnight showings where die hard participants sing and dance along. These people are nuts. Case closed. Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien, Jonathan Adams, Meatloaf, Little Nell, Patricia Quinn. Directed by: Jim Sharman. C-

Roger & Me (1989) R documentary

Michael Moore's debut documentary uses a brilliant gimmick that would set the mold for the rest of his career. That is, he puts himself in front of the camera. His mission: To try and track down those responsible for General Motors' tragic decision to relocate several plants from Flint, Michigan to Mexico. He sets his sights on an interview with the Big Kahuna himself, GM chairman Roger B. Smith. But truly, he will interview anyone willing to talk to him (including a woman who skins a rabbit on camera). Much of the film's entertainment value is watching the lengths he will through to secure an interview with that ever-elusive Roger -- and often being run-off the property by security personnel. What's also unique about Moore putting himself in front of the camera is he can put his own personal spin on the story. Flint, Michigan is his hometown. His father worked on the GM assembly line, and he enjoyed a middle-class upbringing. And all that has to go away because CEOs need increased profit margin? This is a story that, I'm afraid, only became more relevant as time marched on. Starring: Michael Moore. Directed by: Michael Moore. A

Rollerball (1975) R sci-fi

This riveting but superficial sci-fi film takes place in A.D. 2018 where corporations have taken control of the world and the vicious title sport has become a pop-culture craze. This sport is so violent, in fact, that the life expectancy of its players is extremely short. When the rollerball champion, Caan, survives 10 years at it and is still going strong, the corporations begin to worry. What if Caan grows so popular that he becomes more powerful than the corporations? They try with all their strength to get him to retire. The only entertainment value of the film is the actual rollerball games, but everything beyond that is usually boring. Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn, Ralph Richardson. Directed by: Norman Jewison. C+

Roman Holiday (1953) NR comedy

This is a cheery, enjoyable comedy. Audrey Hepburn stars as a famous and frustrated princess who escapes her "prison" (i.e. the duties that a princess must fufill) and blindly wanders around Rome after taking a sleeping drug. Not knowing who she is, reporter Gregory Peck finds her sleeping on the streets and brings her home with him. The next day, Hepburn and Peck are in for the time of their lives. Eddie Albert co-stars as Peck's friend, a photographer. This is cleraly one of the most enjoyable films to come out of the 1950s, and the actors' performances couldn't have been better. Starring: Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Eddie Albert, Hartley Power, Laura Solari, Harcourt Williams, Margaret Rawlings, Tullio Carminati, Paolo Carlini, Claudio Ermelli, Paola Berboni. Directed by: William Wyler. A

Romance With a Double Bass (1974) NR (contains nudity) comedy

Fawlty Towers fans won't want to miss this one. As a predecessor to that show, John Cleese and Connie Booth co-star (and co-write) this hilarious 40-minute short-subject film. Booth stars as a 19th Century princess who bathes in her castle's nearby pond before her engagement party is to begin. Cleese plays a double bassist who also goes bathing though in a different part of the lake. A thief steals their clothes and they are left to try to get back to the castle without being seen (or seeing each other). This is utterly delightful from beginning to end with plenty of belly laughs. It is essential for Cleese fans. Starring: John Cleese, Connie Booth, Freddie Jones, Graham Crowden, John Moffat, Jonathan Lynn, June Whitfield, Andrew Sachs. Directed by: Robert Young. A

Romancing the Stone (1984) PG adventure

This exciting adventure flick stars Michael Douglas as a tough Amazon bird catcher and Kathleen Turner as a romance novelist. They are in the jungle with a treasure map. Even though many people are competing for the treasure, Douglas and Turner cannot help but to look for it, too. Don't expect great cinema, but you can at least expect to be entertained. Starring: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny De Vito, Zack Norman, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda. Directed by: Robert Zemeckis. B+

Romantic Comedy (1983) PG romantic comedy

This (*ahem*) romantic comedy is about a Broadway playwright (Dudley Moore) who finds a new long-term writing partner (Mary Steenburgen). They fall in love, but at least one of them is married throughout their entire partnership. It makes entirely decent entertainment, but it's nothing special. Moore's performance is disappointingly flat. Starring: Dudley Moore, Mary Steenburgen, Frances Sternhagen, Janet Eilber, Robyn Douglass, Ron Leibman, Rozsika Halmos, Alexander Lockwood, Erica Hiller, Sean Patrick Guerin, Dick Wieand. Directed by: Arthur Hiller. C+

Romeo and Juliet (1936) NR romance

This is the very first mainstream film production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and it's quite good. Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard play the title roles professionally, and the nicely staged sword fights enliven the otherwise dull flick. Recommended only if you have already seen the superior 1968 version starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. Starring: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Edna May Oliver, John Barrymore, C. Aubrey Smith, Basil Rathbone, Andy Devine, Henry Kolker, Violet Kemble-Cooper, Ralph Forbes, Reginald Denny. Directed by: George Cukor. B

Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997) R comedy

Strikingly solid performances from Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow highlight this otherwise lacking comedy about a pair of clueless young women who decide to fake certain aspects of their lives to impress people at their high school reunion. There are a few good gags in it, but a lacking script keeps this from becoming anything special. Janeane Garofalo’s performance as a depressed cigarette smoker is very funny. Starring: Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow, Janeane Garofalo, Alan Cumming, Julia Campbell, Mia Cottet, Justin Theroux, Kristin Bauer. Directed by: David Mirkin. C

Room Service (1938) NR comedy

This disappointing Marx Brothers flick will still deliver a few laughs. It starts out very dull with little substance, but toward the end, good comedic material starts rolling in. This one's about the trio managing a new play. The must stay in a hotel for as long as possible while avoiding to pay the bill. Can the Marx Brothers keep this up until the play starts? Starring: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Frank Albertson, Donald MacBride, Clifford Dunstan, Philip Loeb. Directed by: William A. Seiter. B-

A Room With a View (1986) PG drama

A nice cast was picked for this adaptation of E.M. Forrester's novel about a young socialite (Helena Bonham Carter) who must choose between marrying a stiff intellectual (Daniel Day-Lewis) or a romantic eccentric (Julian Sands). The script is witty and the cast turns in excellent performances but the disappointedly average filming and editing makes this a bore. Starring: Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis, Simon Callow, Judi Dench, Rosemary Leach, Rupert Graves, Patric Godfrey. Directed by: James Ivory. C+

Rosemary's Baby (1968) R horror

This film was made with the mentality that effective horror movies don't have to consist of people in scary costumes jumping out of a bush and saying "boo." This will get under your skin. Mia Farrow stars as a pregnant woman. She soon begins to suspect that the couple who lives nextdoor (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) are members of the occult and have secret intentions for her child. This is Roman Polanski's first American film, and he does a brilliant job with it. Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy, Patsy Kelly, Elisha Cook, Jr., Emmaline Henry. Directed by: Roman Polanski. A

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (1990) PG comedy

If you've ever read Hamlet, you're probably familiar with the scumbags of the story, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Well, this movie suggests that they weren't such bad guys after all; they were misunderstood! This is a comedic version of Hamlet told at a different point of view. It has its confusing moments and many of the jokes are directed only to fans of Hamlet, but the material in the film is usually clever and funny. The director has done a fine job adapting this film from his whimsical play. Starring: Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanna Roth, Ian Glen, Donald Sumpter, Joanna Miles, Ljubo Zecevic, Ian Richardson, Sven Medzesck, Vili Matula, John Burgess. Directed by: Tom Stoppard. B

Rounders (1998) R drama

John Dahl directs this fascinating study of high-stakes poker. Matt Damon stars as a heavily talented poker player who lost his entire savings on a bet. He quits poker until his friend (Edward Norton), who is a stupid but also talented poker player, convinces him to take the game up again. Unfortunately, he eventually comes at odds with very mean creditors. The final poker game at the end of the film (in which his life is riding on) is utterly tense. This is a highly effective and engaging film. Starring: Matt Damon, Edward Norton, John Tuturro, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen, John Malkovich, Martin Landau, Michael Rispoli. Directed by: John Dahl. A

Roxanne (1987) PG comedy

Steve Martin stars in this sweetly entertaining modern update of Cyrano de Bergerac as a verbose and big nosed fire chief of a small town who is overtaken by a lovely new resident (Daryl Hannah). Unfortunately, Hannah is more overtaken by a more good-looking though clumsy fireman (Rick Rossovich), who turns to Martin to help. Great performance by Martin who manages to waft in and out of sweet drama and his signature wild’n’crazy antics. Starring: Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah, Rick Rossovich, Shelley Duvall, Michael J. Pollard, John Kapelos, Damon Wayans, Fred Willard. Directed by: Fred Schepisi. A-

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) R comedy

Wes Anderson's third film is another quirky winner. Gene Hackman stars as a man who fakes stomach cancer so that he may get close to the family he left behind many years ago (but he does this for financial reasons). This family features members who excelled as kids: Ben Stiller is an exercise-addicted stock market broker; Gwyneth Paltrow is a depressed playwright; and Luke Wilson as a professional tennis player. However, their lives went downhill from there. This is a comedy that doesn't offer up too many guffaws, but it is sure to entertain those who enjoy artsy movies. Starring: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Seymour Cassel, Kumar Pallana, Alec Baldwin, Grant Rosenmeyer, Jonah Meyerson, Stephen Lee Sheppard. Directed by: Wes Anderson. A-

Rudy (1993) PG sports

Sean Astin plays a young man whose effort and ambition is larger than his physical and mental capabilities. It has been his goal since childhood to play football for Notre Dame, but when he grows older, he finds he's short, non-athletic and his schooling capabilities are below what's expected. However, through hard work and determination, he might be able to come through! An inspirational true story that's excellent for family night. Starring: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty, Greta Lind, Scott Benjaminson, Mary Ann Thebus, Charles S. Dutton, Lili Taylor, Christopher Reed. Directed by: David Anspaugh. B+

The Ruling Class (1972) PG comedy

Peter O’Toole’s notable and energetic performance is instrumental in making this whopping 154-minute film entertaining to the end. When the 13th Duke of Gurney (Harry Andrews) commits suicide, his only surviving son (O’Toole), who happens to think he’s the second coming of Christ, is appointed to fulfil that role. This somewhat ambiguous satire features fresh and inventive direction and the tendency to randomly break out in song. Starring: Peter O’Toole, Alistair Sim, Arthur Lowe, Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Michael Bryant, Leslie Schofield, Hugh Owens, Llewellyn Rees, Declan Mulholland, Nigel Green. Directed by: Peter Medak. A-

Rumor Has It (2005) PG-13 comedy

This horrible riff on The Graduate stars Jennifer Aniston who visits her family with her fiancé (Mark Ruffalo), but she having second thoughts about him. Meanwhile, she becomes increasingly interested in her family history. Having never known her father, she wonders if a longtime family friend (Kevin Costner) might be him. He insists he isn't. It might not sound like a bad movie, but the pacing was wrong, and this is a tedious watch. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo, Richard Jenkins, Mena Suvari, Chris McDonald, Steve Sandvoss, Mike Vogel. Directed by: Rob Reiner. D

Runaway (1984) PG-13 sci-fi

Decent sci-fi thriller directed by prominent author Michael Crichton stars Tom Selleck as a futuristic police officer specializing in robots. When he investigates an incident of a machine going awry and killing a family with a gun, he discovers that an evil scientist (KISS guitarist Gene Simmons) is up to something, well, evil. Fine plot that examines the dangers of technology and fine action sequences is enough to make this entertaining, but it ain’t no Bladerunner. Simmons, in his film debut, makes a surprisingly effective villain. Kirstie Alley is over-the-top as a victimized middleman. Starring: Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Stan Shaw, Joey Cramer, G.W. Bailey, Chris Mulkey. Directed by: Michael Chrichton. B-

Running Scared (1986) R action

Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines partner up in this excellent comedy as detective who attempt to stop a drug lord from transporting illegal drugs. The story is rather routine, but there was enough chemistry in the pairing of Crystal and Hines to make it an entertaining watch. Starring: Billy Crystal, Gregory Hines, Steven Bauer, Darlanne Fluegel, Joe Pantoliano, Dan Hedaya, Jonathan Gries, Tracy Reed, Jimmy Smits, John DiSanti. Directed by: Peter Hyams. B+

Rush Hour (1998) PG-13 martial arts

Jackie Chan's big Hollywood debut reaped box office riches, but its entertainment value doesn't come close to surpassing the best of his earlier Hong Kong films. That largely being because in those films he doesn't need to share screen time with an annoying American (Chris Tucker). But at least he still gets in plenty of dazzling stunts, particularly an astounding one at the end where he runs across the rafters of a tall dome building and then falls from stories high only to be caught with a giant red banner, which he then slides down. No CGI, no stunt double. Just knowing that to be the case makes these scenes so much more tense and exciting -- almost like I'm watching them being done live. Chan plays Yan Naing Lee, a detective who is asked by the Hong Kong consul to travel to Los Angeles to investigate the kidnapping of his daughter, Soo Yung. As this interferes with the FBI investigation into the case, mouthy LAPD officer James Carter (Tucker) is recruited to keep Lee distracted. However, Lee proves to be pretty slippery, even pretending at first he doesn't understand English. What ensues is a formulaic buddy cop comedy with its highs and lows -- but mainly highs. Despite my complaints about Tucker taking too much screen time, I still find him enjoyable enough at times, especially when he is Chan's fall-guy. Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tom Wilkinson, Tzi Ma, Julia Hsu, Ken Leung, Robert Littman, Michael Chow. Directed by: Brett Ratner. B+

Rush Hour 2 (2001) PG-13 martial arts

Like many sequels, this doesn't rise far above that of a lazy cash-in. The big problem here is Chris Tucker. Not only does he continue to take away critical screen time from Jackie Chan, but he's just not funny. Tolerable enough as he was in the first film when he was mainly just messing around with friends and family. Here, he seems to spend most of his time leching at women and without payoff. (Acceptable payoff might have been as simple as being rejected by every single woman he ogles.) Tucker also has a criminally unfunny scene at a Vegas craps table where he accuses a dealer of being racist for giving him lower domination chips than he gave to a white prison. The reason to watch this film and really the only reason are the stunts. Chan is seen scaling the side of bamboo scaffolding and then hangs dangerously off a long chute that jiggered loose. That stuff is fun. There's also a terrific fight scene that takes place in a bathhouse. That's a classic Chan battle where he fends off multiple assailants using nearby props to dazzling and amusing effect. Tucker, proving he has no real business being in this movie at all, spends that scene standing off on the side making comments about what's going on. He's set up to be the comic relief, except it doesn't work since Chan himself is also comical. I made it through this review without discussing the plot. I'd seen this film a number of times and I never thought it was terribly consequential. All that's of interest here is Chan kicking butt. Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Roselyn Sanchez, Harris Yulin, Alan King, Kenneth Tsang. Directed by: Brett Ratner. C+

Rush Hour 3 (2007) PG-13 martial arts

By far the least inspired of them all. Chris Tucker is even more obnoxious than he was in the previous film, and we don't even get nearly enough dazzling Jackie Chan stunts as consolation prizes. The action scenes we do get are cartoonish and lack that dazzling, high octane choreography most of us expect from Jackie Chan films. Albeit, there was a legitimate excuse for that: He was getting aged out of these types of youthful stunts by this point of his career. However, there should have been something more done about that. Tucker is still here leching at women without consequence, even at one point giving off a creepy Donald Trump vibe when he walks uninvited into a ladies' changing room. Somehow even more embarrassing than anything else are some truly awful comedic routines. This includes a mind-numbingly bad variation of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First." There's also a scene with Tucker and Chan badly performing a musical theater number. And perhaps most embarrassing of them all is a scene where Tucker forces a French taxicab driver to sing "The Star Spangled Banner." The storyline once again is thin -- mainly an excuse to get in these bits of "comic relief." Really, the only thing that saves this film from the complete doldrums is Chan's natural charisma. Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Max Von Sydow, Yvan Attal, Youki Kudoh, Noemie Lenoir, Zhang Junchu, Tzi Ma, Roman Polanski, Philip Baker Hall, Dana Ivey. Directed by: Brett Ratner. D+

The Rutles (1978) NR comedy

This post-Monty Python creation from Eric Idle is silly but only mildly funny. He mocks the entire career of The Beatles from their origins to their break-up. Idle might have been well advised to have kept the film focused on a single era of the Beatles' career, because this film whizzes by too quickly. The mock songs are meant to sound eerily similar to the Beatles hits. The song titles, such as "All You Need are Cash" and "Yellow Submarine Sandwich" are humorous puns, but the tunes are fairly annoying. Nevertheless, this mockumentary is silly enough to be fun. It's also worth seeing for appearances from many of the original Saturday Night Live cast, Mick Jagger and the Beatles' lead guitarist George Harrison. Starring: Eric Idle, Neil Innes, Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, Paul Simon, Al Franken, Rikki Fataar, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, George Harrison, John Halsey, Gary Weis, Robert Putt, Tom Davis, Bianca Jagger, John Belushi, Gilda Radner. Directed by: Eric Idle. B-

Ruthless People (1986) R comedy

Danny DeVito contemplates ways to murder his undesirable wife, Bette Midler, but then he gets a phone call informing that his wife has been kidnapped for ransom. So DeVito does nothing. This is a clever comedy from Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker (directors of "Airplane!"), but don't expect a laugh a minute. They went the sophisticated route with this picture ... for some weird reason. Starring: Danny De Vito, Bette Midler, Judge Reinhold, Helen Slater, Anita Morris, Bill Pullman, William G. Schilling, Art J. Evans, Clarence Felder, J.E. Freeman, Gary Riley, Louise Yaffe. Directed by: Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and David Zucker. B+

RV (2006) PG comedy

It's a shame that a film with Robin Williams as the star couldn't have had a script that aimed higher than poop jokes. Oh well; Williams' comic flare manages to make this a watchable film. He stars as a negligent father who cancels the family trip to Hawaii and attempts to take his spoiled family on an RV trip. (He does this to secretly attend business meetings in Denver.) Will this dysfunctional family ever bond? Starring: Robin Williams, Jeff Daniels, Cheryl Hines, Kristin Chenoweth, Joanna 'Jojo" Levesque, Josh Hutcherson, Will Arnett, Brendan Fletcher. Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld. C

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