Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

This plot's hot

Published September 15, 2003

Matchstick Men
Nicolas Cage and Alison Lohman are father and daughter in Matchstick Men.

Matchstick Men

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Roy (Nicolas Cage) is an obsessive-compulsive, yet extremely shrewd con artist who is planning a major moneymaking scam on an unsuspecting and extremely wealthy businessman targeted by his partner in crime, Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell). But, as Roy's mental state seems to be getting worse, Frank anxiously refers him to a psychiatrist, Dr. Klein (Bruce Altman). In the process of digging to the roots of Roy's problems, Klein helps Roy discover a daughter he was never sure existed (because his wife left him when she was in the early stages of pregnancy). When he is united with his daughter, Angela (Alison Lohman), his life changes drastically. His mental condition improves as he learns how to become a father, but at the same time, Angela is beginning to take a negative toll on his "work."

My view: The truly outstanding aspect of this movie is its plot. The frequent shifts and twists were just convoluted enough to keep me fully engaged throughout the film, leaving me thinking I had it all figured out. A lot of the facets of this story line didn't actually become clear to me though until I was sorting through it all on my way out of the theater, scratching my head and trying to figure out what the heck just happened. It is a very clever story - definitely not plausible, but truly drop-your-jaw clever. Nicolas Cage had an extremely firm grasp on his role, right down to every last tic; he was tremendously convincing. The effects of his disorder are very well represented and believable. The supporting actors, especially Alison Lohman, gave stellar performances as well. Between the plot and the acting, you will run through a gamut of emotions while watching this movie. My only complaint here is about the ending; everything was tied up a little too neatly. It had an unnecessary closing scene; the film should have ended about 10 minutes sooner than it did.

Recommendations: This is an excellent film for most audiences over 13, but pay attention!

Grade: A-

- Billy Norris, 15, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times' X-Team.

[Last modified September 12, 2003, 14:30:40]

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