Monday, February 12, 2001

The Best and Worst Movies of 2000


1 - American Psycho
If the 2000 movie industry had a face, chances are it would resemble something along the lines of Patrick Bateman's, the character who we all learned to despise (but vividly remember) in Mary Harron's "American Psycho." The sadistic creation of author Bret Easton Ellis, he is one of the most colorful incarnations of every human's fears, a man who so effortlessly charms and manipulates the audience that, by the time he is established as a cold-blooded killer, it leaves us feeling almost victimized. Screen personas in this vein would normally hop directly onto the wagon of crime without ever giving us guided tours of their warped hidden agendas. But here was someone who seemed to rewrite every rule that had been laid down before him, literally inviting us in to observe the downward spiral of his crumbling "mask of sanity." No other character in a movie this past year came close to his mesmerizing audacity (that is, if there is such a thing).

Much of the success can be accredited to the magnificent lead performance by actor Christian Bale, but the merit hardly ends there. This was not only the first great product of the year, but also one of the most cynical, brave, and thought-provoking endeavors to come out of Hollywood in the recent past. Only until these last few weeks, though, when this list was under construction, did I truly realize the amount of impact the picture had made on me as a critic. There are reasons why I do what I do for the entertainment business, and "American Psycho" is one of those.

It's easy to see the immense challenge that was laid out in front of Harron; the controversial Easton Ellis novel is a work of gruesome detail, so deeply penetrating into its substance that it even makes some of the strongest stomachs turn. The story deals with Bateman, a highly-respected business man who woos and compliments his workers, his secretary and fiancee by day, but becomes a maniacal and sadistic murderer by night. Why, exactly? Because his business power is consuming him, degenerating the lucidity of his persona and driving him to greed, bloodlust, deceit, and even vanity. Aspects like those, however, are an echo of more than just this particular character; in today's society, every other business man with a broad stretch of authority and wealth uses his assets to get away with practically anything—even homicide.

The movie is masterful in the way it braces satirical humor with gut-wrenching violence, all while retaining a sense of neutrality on the events. In the closing scenes of the movie, for instance, there is a chord of confusion struck in order to leave us doubting not just Bateman's sanity, but the authenticity of all his crimes. With that impartial attitude, the viewers thus have an opportunity to decide for themselves who the real villain of the picture is: Bateman, or the society that turns a blind eye to his inadequacies. Regardless the answer, whether it comes to us instantly or weeks after, "American Psycho" continues to linger on in this critic's mind. It is a true testament to the vast possibilities of cinema, and how highly engrossed we as moviegoers can be even when the source material deals with someone as manipulative as a politician.

2 - Nurse Betty
Renee Zellweger has never been one of the greatest actresses around, but after her marvelous performance in "Nurse Betty," she may very well be on her way to a brighter future in Hollywood. The role is a difficult undertaking to begin with, given the sheer weirdness of the concept that surrounds it; Betty, who lives life in Kansas as a waitress, witnesses the horrendous murder of her husband in her own home, and as a result dissolves into a faux characterization she created in her own mind in order to link herself to the personas of her favorite soap opera, particularly a doctor played here by Greg Kinnear. While Zellweger cheerfully relishes in all these sweet romance comedy situations, the two hit men responsible for her husband's demise begin to pursue Betty in order to "silence" her as a witness, establishing a rather gloomy subplot to coexist with the more upbeat and innocent central focus. Pairing two seemingly contradictory tones in any story is a big risk, but like "Fargo," this is one movie that knows how to make it work.

And boy did this endeavor work! "Nurse Betty" was like few movies we saw at all last year: audacious, blithe yet serious, and all-around clever. It could not have been a more effective endeavor even if Quentin Tarrantino was behind the camera. That's not a big surprise, of course, coming from director Neil LaBute, who made the brilliant "Your Friends And Neighbors" three years back. LaBute has an unmatchable gift with screen personas, developing so many of them so thoroughly under the same atmosphere that it provides a wide range of personalities for the audience to embrace. And when you pair them with the witty, audacious and thought-provoking script, the result is not just one of the year's best pictures, but also another of the director's personal triumphs.

3 - Almost Famous
The scenario that engulfs Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" is rather lighthearted and simple, but such traits were so rare throughout the year that, once the movie made its debut last September, we embraced it like a long lost relative. This isn't suggesting, however, that most of us would simply respond positively to the first endeavor simply because it was the first we've seen in a while; the arrival of the movie was refreshing, yes, but on a whole, it was so much more.

Crowe's movie is semi-autobiographical, telling the story of a young aspiring journalist named William (Patrick Fugit) whose interests in rock and roll fuel his urges to report on all the local musical happenings. As he is taken under the wing of a journalist from Creem magazine (played brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman), he runs into the up-and-coming band Stillwater, whose members dread the idea of any journalist peering into their lives, but understand that William's youth has not yet "alienated" his approach of reporting. Before the young and talented guy knows it, he's been assigned to write a feature story on the band by Rolling Stone magazine, whose editors assume that he is a much older journalist.

Performances here cease to amaze us. Fugit is very delightful in the lead role, but its the supporting characters that have most of the fun: Russell (Billy Crudup), a guitarist who thinks more like a kid than his band mates; Penny (Kate Hudson), a tagalong who insists she and her friends are not groupies, but "band-aids"; and Elaine Miller (Frances McDormand), William's mother, who worries about her son's direction but nevertheless lets him make his own decisions. At least two of the above mentioned are guaranteed Oscar nominations. But which two? If you've seen the movie, you already know the answer.

4 - Titan A.E.
Animation's narrative potential took the biggest leap since "Beauty And The Beast" with "Titan A.E.," and yet only a handful of moviegoers ever got the chance to see it. That's because 20th Century Fox, the studio responsible for its distribution, pushed it into theaters under a very weak promotional campaign, and when it failed to garner much attention or money, they ripped it from the screen, immediately shutting down the entire animation department because, as we're told, it was their "last hope" in competing against Disney animation. Only time will tell if it, like many old Disney cartoons that flopped in theaters, has healthy enough a video run to garner some decent return revenue (and perhaps a loyal fan base as well).

The story is set against an apocalyptic event, when an evil alien race made of pure energy destroys the planet Earth just as the inhabitants are gradually mastering their control of nature and its resources. Years after the catastrophe, humans are sparse among the universe's known population, and their only hope of perseverance lies within a ship called the Titan, which stores so much of Earth's technical data that it can literally recreate the planet itself. Critics were dismayed by this approach particularly because of its conventional outlook on a unique premise (survival and recreation, two common themes in Disney feature animation), but the script so effectively used these traits to its advantage that there was no reason to complain. The movie was undoubtedly the most artistically striking of the year, further proof that animation can even make dark and desolate environments like outer space look beautiful.

5 - State And Main
Ever wonder what it would be like to be a resident of a town that has been chosen as a shooting location for a major studio feature film? "State And Main" answers those questions, and a whole lot more in the process. Comedy undoubtedly suffered the biggest setback in 2000, but the arrival of David Mamet's witty retrospective was like shocking a heart back into rhythm after it had laid motionless for far too long.

In the town of Waterford, Vermont, a film crew sets up shop to complete the filming of their project "The Old Mill." Unfortunately, the prime visual necessity of their movie (the mill itself, of course) was burned down in 1960, one of many arson fires in the remotely quiet village. This lays heavy rewriting duties on the screenwriter, Joseph (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a man who is shy and insightful, and most importantly thinks his material is perfect the way it is. Pressure is added by countless requests from both the producer and director (David Paymer and William H. Macy, respectively), even while both struggle over other serious problems surrounding the production (one being an actress played by Sarah Jessica Parker who may back out of her contract because she doesn't want her breasts exposed, and another being a scandal involving an actor played by Alec Baldwin and his unhealthy obsession with young teenage girls). How any of these people can even get so far into the motion picture business is beyond me, but that's what makes a David Mamet film so colorful.

The movie is a web of sophisticated, charming stories, fused merely by an obscure notion that everyone has an obligation to the same product. Many endeavors might have chosen a focus that conceived one main storyline with several overlapping subplots, but "State And Main" is balanced and broad, carrying out all its stories with both equal concentration and sentiment. And all of the characters involved, likewise, are thoroughly engrossing, even when their personalities are less than appealing.

6 - Gladiator
During his pitch to the Academy this January, Roger Ebert, bewildered by the success of "Gladiator" (which he did not admire), said that fans of the Ridley Scott Roman epic were never "really looking" at the movie (in reference, of course, to his claims that the special effects were transparent and indistinctive). Maybe he was looking at the picture with X-ray vision; visuals like these are rare treats, so elaborate and striking that they make permanent imprints in our minds. Fortunately, the rest of the movie did an equally astounding job, telling a story as compelling as "Spartacus" or "Ben Hur," and providing it with actors who care about the substance as if it were a family member.

Russell Crowe plays Maximus, a general in the Roman Empire who is suddenly reduced to ashes after the Emperor's son, played by Joaquin Phoenix, murders his father, assumes his role and orders the general's execution before word gets out that he was supposed to be the next Roman leader. Escaping a near-fatal assassination attempt, he makes his way home, collapses at the sight of his wife and son's scarred corpses, and is picked up by a slave trade caravan en route to a North African province that specializes in training men to be public killing machines, a.k.a. "Gladiators." Of course, when the new emperor proposes a festival of games to avoid the looming threat of the plague in nearby towns, the strongest trainees are brought into Rome to fight for the residents to see, and one of them, seeking revenge, happens to be Maximus...

The movie is one of the more thoroughly involving of its kind, saturated by a monotonous texture that underscores the cruel intentions of many of the characters. Crowe as Maximus proves that his role in "The Insider" was no one-time miracle, and Phoenix as his (and the empire's) true antagonist displays a magnificent variety of emotions, particularly in moments of vulnerability that suggest extensive cowardice. Special kudos go to Connie Nielsen in the role of the Emperor's daughter, too, a woman whom is told that she should have been born a man, what with her great knowledge of the affairs of government.

7 - The Contender
When Senator Laine Hanson is asked to respond to the scandal surrounding her proposed Vice Presidency appointment, she simply shrugs them off and continues laying out her political beliefs. What bravery, especially for someone who is being defamed by reports of intense sexual encounters in college between her and two men. Most politicians would crumble under the pressure from the media itself, but so is not the case here. Hanson wants the job, and isn't about to lose it to something that isn't even the public's business.

"The Contender" offers one of the most brutally honest commentaries on politics we have ever seen. That is, of course, not the only primary reason why the movie makes it on this list; it is also the most thoroughly well-acted of 2000. With so many outstanding performances from the intricate ensemble cast, we almost wish that these were the kinds of people running our country.

8 - Fantasia 2000
In Disney's ongoing effort to push the boundaries of their animation department, "Fantasia 2000" came in at just the optimum moment. As theaters slowly move away from traditional motion picture projection and try to exhibit studio productions using newer, more effective (and perhaps cheaper) techniques, we find ourselves confronted with the possibility that anything traditional is yesterday's news. Now we have digital projection on the horizon, and an already-popular new format is the massive, engrossing IMAX presentation, which puts a movie on a canvas roughly the size of a high school gymnasium's ceiling.

The first "Fantasia" film was the also first animated movie to use multiple-speaker stereo sound, all in order to give the movie its concert atmosphere. Furthering that example, the long-awaited "Fantasia 2000" (which was, interestingly enough, originally planned for a 1996 release) became the first animated feature ever to be projected in IMAX format. I myself, was not able to see the movie under this new technique, but those that did were very impressed, and not just by the innovative form of release.

Others, like myself, waited until the traditional, movie-house presentation of the film. Even at that level, which is undoubtedly less than the IMAX presentation, the movie is brilliant, reviving the dream of music and abstract (or narrative) visual images being combined on the screen as if directly pulled out of an imagination. Each of the seven new segments added to the "grand experiment" are each unique and ideal; the "Rhapsody In Blue" segment for instance, based on the music by George Gershwin, is completely hand-drawn, not computer-animated like some of the other segments (such as "The Pines of Rome," featuring CGI whales flying through the sky, and "Piano Concerto No. 2," which adopts Hans Christian Anderson's story of "The Steadfast Tin Soldier"). Diverse and fun, "Fantasia 2000" will not so easily be forgotten.

9 - Collectors
The year's best documentary was also the one that no one even heard of. "Collectors" opens with a note of concern, as we see two men pillage their lives away on a rather unhealthy obsessions, collecting famous artwork sketched, painted, or even water colored, by infamous serial killers. Our jaws are left open after one person invites us in to gaze at his collection of John Wayne Gacy portraits. And yet, as the movie painstakingly details in closing arguments, few of us have any right to be so angry. Serial killers are hardly great people, but their art offers a certain attractive insight into their motivations, their techniques, and even their creativity. Collecting such artifacts is no more unhealthy than keeping a collection of movies based on serial killers on your video shelf.

Unlike what most films would do with this kind of material, "Collectors" is objective on the issues, never clouding or undermining a particular side of the debate, and always leaving the final decision up to the viewer. It reminds me a lot of "American Psycho," only instead of fiction, it deals with material closer to us as human beings than we would normally assume.

10 - The Cell
Of all the entries on this year's list, none had quite pushed the boundaries as far, visually and technically, as Tarsem Singh's visionary triumph "The Cell." Dubbed a "cross between 'The Silence Of The Lambs' and 'The Matrix'" (at least by the admirers), the movie's energetic excursion through the mind of a serial killer spawned images of terror that had up to the point only been seen in a few music videos. And even those who are familiar with these kinds of visual concepts might be shocked to realize that the movie's director actually made his directorial debut here. If this is a sign of things to come from him, then Tim Burton may have finally found some true artistic competition.

The movie is edgy, fresh, and endlessly visionary, with texture that that makes lush exhibits out of human suffering, and a story that is difficult but sympathetic all at the same time. It tells of a child psychologist played by Jennifer Lopez, who utilizes a revolutionary form of technology to help bring her latest case, a little boy, out from a coma: a program that maps out the brain and allows a second individual to tap inside. The catch? Since people have dreams when unconscious, he or she who enters a mind is essentially entering an actual visual environment, shaped by the imaginations and feelings of the host.

The FBI learns of this, and enlists Lopez's character to help crack some information from a comatose serial killer with schizophrenia: where, exactly, is his latest victim, and can they find her in 40 hours before the "cell" she is in kills her??? The search takes us through one of the darkest and fearsome virtual realities ever seen in a movie. If the Academy Awards fail to recognize the technical triumphs, then perhaps someone else should be doing the voting.

In Brief: The Runners-Up

Wonder Boys
"Wonder Boys" wasn't simply the first film of 2000 to truly stand out; it was the first in quite a while that managed to hit so many of us close to home. Its premise deals with the search of rebirth, as a writer played by Michael Douglas agonizes over completing a manuscript well on its way to 2000 pages, but feels so withdrawn from his gift of writing that he isn't sure whether it will ever get finished. Some people never get to that point; others, like this man, eventually find their inspiration in others, whose own gifts are sometimes so bright and potentially groundbreaking that they replenish our urges to continue. This is the kind of movie that makes you want to run out and chase one of your old dreams down.

Requiem For A Dream
Darren Aronofsky's swift, dark and heartbreaking document of the perils of addiction was the year's best "druggie" film—not "Traffic," the Steven Soderbergh vehicle which, despite being strongly acted and directed, failed to live up to the enormous hype it had received from critics. Unlike the Soderbergh endeavor, Aronofsky's was motivated through a powerful, heart-wrenching central performance, one which was so well portrayed by actress Ellen Burstyn that it may send her back up to the Oscar podium this March. Technical directors may follow her too, as the movie was also a superbly-crafted work of photography and film editing, utilizing the Aronofsky style that was so appealing about his last feature film, "Pi."

Dancer In The Dark
The most depressing film you will ever see, but also one of the most riveting and unique, "Dancer In The Dark" made the biggest surprise in 2000 by combining a heart-wrenching narrative with a musical approach. There were moments when we weren't sure whether to cry or be dumbfounded, but the lead performance by Björk, undoubtedly the finest by an actress in 2000, served as a platform to propel us directly into the heart of the material, even if we at first felt distanced by the bizarre inclusion of Broadway-like production numbers.

Chicken Run
If cartoons weren't enough for the kids this past year at the local theater, then "Chicken Run" likely satisfied their appetites. Released through Dreamworks at a time when the "claymation" genre appeared to be extinct, the movie served as a pleasant surprise, especially among a company of pictures that either reeked of desperation or fell short of their expectations. The directors are famous for their "Wallace and Gromit" shorts, and much of the visual savvy from those endeavors translates here: the round and puffy eyes, the square pearly teeth, etc. What changes, perhaps, is the depth of the story; here, the filmmakers are enticing us with a plot that is soaked in undying aspiration, as a group of wise British chickens try to concoct a plan of escape before their sadistic owners turn them into Chicken Pot pies. Among all this, there are even obvious references to "The Great Escape," particularly when the lead character incessantly tries new methods of freeing herself, and always gets caught. At the end of the film, you feel like floating on air.

After years of speculation, Marvel Comics finally gave the green light to their long-awaited "X-Men" film adaptation in mid-1999, and the result was more than we could have hoped for. The fact that it's visually splendid was an instant given, but who could have ever imagined it being so engaging and dramatic, with a plot just as intelligent as something like "The Matrix?" Fans of the series, of course.

Other worthwhile endeavors in 2000: Dinosaur; High Fidelity; Keeping The Faith; Meet The Parents; The Ninth Gate; Not Of This World; Tigerland; and Traffic.


1 - The Skulls
Seeing "The Skulls" is like regurgitating a really bad meal; material like this was hard to digest to begin with, but who could have ever predicted it could be so vile and unpleasant? The movie walks, talks and thinks like a college student who isn't coherent enough to find his classes. Commercials about cat litter have more worthwhile payoffs than this mess.

The star is Joshua Jackson, and he plays a rising star at a college university. When his talents go noticed by a secret society known as the Skulls, he enlists, unaware of the danger he is about to descend in to. Of course, at surface value, no danger could be apparent, as the "secret" society advertises with a logo on a building, and supplies all its members with glow-in-the-dark wrist watches. Talk about audacity! Movies this bad are a dime a dozen.

2 - Next Friday
I can't help but shake the feeling that the makers of "Next Friday" sought out solely to create a movie for the haters, like myself, of the first motion picture. Perhaps they wanted revenge on those, and making another endeavor like this was the only solution. Needless to say, they succeeded, for the movie was not just a worthless excuse for comedy, but an insult to people who actually wanted to see horrible movies.

3 - Battlefield Earth
There are bad movies and then detestable ones, but "Battlefield Earth" is almost dreadful enough to deserve a whole new category. The only thing preventing it from being the worst film of the year is the presence of John Travolta, who is a gifted man in every sense of the word, although has let his affiliation with the material's creator cloud his judgment on what makes a solid motion picture. The movie is another one of those "apocalyptic" operas in which aliens have conquered the human race, and now reside over the planet Earth using leftover men and women as slaves to their needs. A rebellion, of course, is a given. What is miscalculated, however, is the incredibly ugly presentation of the events, which has colors so dull and depressing, they make toilet water look appealing. The story is no picnic either, both incoherent and moronic at the same time.

4 - The Crew
One of the more agonizing comedies on this list, "The Crew" is like a soap opera for retired mobsters, a splintered effort that demands the audience suspend logic and reasoning in order to successfully buy in to the far-fetched and idiotic like storyline. The indicating factor behind all this mess is that none of it is ever conveyed with a sense of humor or amusement. Without those traits, exactly what significance does the final result have? Not to boost the careers of Richard Dreyfuss and Burt Reynolds, that's for sure.

5 - Little Nicky
"Little Nicky" was undoubtedly the definitive Adam Sandler movie; the one that finally proved to the masses exactly how hellish his cinematic existence has actually been. He plays one of three sons of the Devil, an obnoxious little twirp who is sent up to New York City to retrieve his rebellious brothers before, as we're told, they turn it into a realm of pain and suffering (as if any more could come out of New York). In the process, he discovers a slew of secrets both about humanity and himself, one being that his mother is actually an angel, and is played by, of all people, Reese Witherspoon. From beginning to end, the movie is laughless and spiritless. Its as if Nicky's two brothers set out to make the movie screen a living hell rather than the east-coast metropolis.

6 - The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas
If one has ever needed proof that cartoon-to-live action transitions are pointless and/or exercised, "The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas" is exhibit A. When it was proposed by Universal Pictures a couple of years back in response to the commercial success of its predecessor, "The Flintstones," some of us were left rather baffled, especially since the first feature was an utterly childish display of elements that deserved to be forever trapped in animation (who could believe, for instance, that animals would be household appliances?). This prequel operates on the exact wavelength as its predecessor, although instead of great actors like John Goodman and Elizabeth Taylor at least occupying the roles, we wind up with Mark Addy and Joan Collins instead. Oh, how appropriate!

7 - Eye Of The Beholder
Any two scenes of "Eye Of The Beholder" can clearly demonstrate why the movie had been shelved for over a year. It stars Ashley Judd as a "black widow," of sorts, who makes her way into men's lives, steals their money, and then brutally does away with them. The sick thing is, a special secret agent nicknamed the Eye, played by Ewan McGregor, develops a fascination with the woman despite her apparent hatred towards the opposite sex. The movie's ending clarifies the connection, but its a bit too late by then to feel any sympathy for any part of this wretched excuse for a thriller.

8 - The Watcher
The broad audience perception that Keannu Reeves is actually a stiff, impersonal screen actor is not exactly the truth, but those who see something like "The Watcher" won't be convinced otherwise. Here, Reeves adopts the most unconventional of all his personas; an antagonist who strangles women in various locations around Chicago in order to satisfy the needs of his association with the cult. He is, of course, pursued by a police detective with personality issues, and that is exactly what the killer enjoys about his crime spree. No one should care, though, considering that the product, aside from being misshapen and muddled, is convicted in such ugly and drab colors that we feel like we're staring at it through a smoker's lung.

9 - Reindeer Games
The plot to "Reindeer Games" is enough to prove exactly why a dark cloud was forever cast on the year's up-an-coming thrillers. It starts out as an innocent love story when a prison inmate named Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) falls in love with his cell-mate's girlfriend, whom neither have ever met. They both are headed towards an early release on the same day, but Rudy's friend is killed in a cafeteria brawl, ending any potential for him and his "pen pal" to hook up. Naturally, Rudy sees it as his obligation to take his friend's place. His farce of an idea eventually leads him into a scandal to take down a large Indian Casino. Nothing in the plot is what it seems; like Mr. Duncan, it is one big lie after another, winding at such an implausible angles that, by the final twist comes around, we have already lost even simple interest.

10 - Supernova
"Supernova" is the kind of movie where all sorts of things are going on, but is cut and pasted so badly that we never get to see most of the action. A medical vessel somewhere out in the farthest reaches of space receives a distress signal light years away, and when they go to answer it, the captain's sleep chamber malfunctions and he is killed in the process. The man who sends the signal, as it turns out, is linked to one of the vessel's technicians, and he is carrying with him an orb of plasma that is so powerful and destructive, it can turn whole galaxies into dust. Too bad he didn't set the organism off in the first moments of the movie, because the entire endeavor is wasted by one-dimensional characters, insipid plot directions, and visuals that are as appealing as flying into the sun. No wonder the director requested to have his name removed.

In Brief: The Runners-Up

Coyote Ugly
"Coyote Ugly" is "Showgirls" in PG-13 glory, a movie with its standards set so low that even those who had no desire to see the film would be severely enraged. The product that exists consists of women in their mid-to-late 20s, working at a bar where sexuality is a plus, and mixing drinks is secondary. The main character, however, aspires to be a great songwriter, although once she has the opportunity to display her skills, what we get is a song that rivals the material off of a Britney Spears album.

Big Momma's House
No human vocabulary could successfully describe the utter stupidity of "Big Momma's House," although many have tried. What can be said is that Martin Lawrence, obviously trying to replicate Eddie Murphy's success as an alter-ego, looks completely unrecognizable in a large body suit, as he spends most of the movie masquerading around as the larger-than-life Big Momma in order to protect a potential witness. When it tries to be funny, however, we're left rather sickened. A moment towards the beginning that takes place in the bathroom is viable proof of that notion.

Snow Day
The concept of "Snow Day" is not a bad one, but like so many, is convicted so shallowly and repugnantly that even the basic idea seems like a lost cause. Many stories break out as a blanket of winter weather encompasses the town of Syracuse, prompting closure of nearly every business and school in the area. The stories include one about Chevy Chase as a local weatherman who is competing with everyone else at the local level, and another about several local kids who are so scared of the sight of the man behind the snow plow, they shudder at the mere mention of him. Like every other comedy mentioned on this list, however, this one is simply not funny in any way.

I Dreamed Of Africa
What do you get when you combine ambitious stars, an intriguing piece of source material, and a script that lacks even the simplest morsel of motivation and desire? "I Dreamed Of Africa" is a good guess. Kim Basinger stars as a woman who leaves behind the lap of luxury in order to explore nature's potential in the African territories. The woman who is the subject here, though, should be furious at how transparent her adventures are portrayed. Even dull National Geographic specials have something more interesting in them.

Charlie's Angels
Forget box office numbers; "Charlie's Angels" was a completely overrated farce of a movie that was neither amusing nor exciting. Several critics defended it, though, likely because, as most indicated, it preserved the spirit of the 1970s television series it was adapted from. If that's true (and I'm in no condition to confirm it), then I'd hate to see a result where the subject matter was greatly modified. The film is almost brainless and joyless enough to forever plague my fond memories of actresses like Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore from better movies.

Other 2000 travesties: Isn't She Great; Me, Myself & Irene; Unbreakable; What Planet Are You From?; Whipped; and The Whole Nine Yards.

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