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By Times Staff
Published March 18, 2004

21 Grams

DIRECTOR: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

CAST: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts, Melissa Leo, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Clea DuVall, Eddie Marsan

SYNOPSIS: In a fractured narrative that makes its predecessors in the genre seem downright linear, 21 Grams unites three disparate characters via a single tragedy. Watts plays a mother whose grief over the loss of her family in a car accident sends her into a spiral of drugs and alcohol. Penn portrays a professor whose past affairs and current medical problems rock his marriage. And Del Toro, as a born-again ex-con, was nominated for an Oscar in this standout role.

WHAT WE SAID: St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall called 21 Grams one of the best movies of 2003, but a tough one to absorb. "The power of 21 Grams is evidenced by how Inarritu forces viewers to anticipate, then manages to make the inevitable seem surprising. Kind of like life, fate, mortality and religion, four concepts at work throughout this densely spiritual movie . . . 21 Grams is the feel-bad movie of the season, but it's a stunner." MPAA RATING: R; violence, profanity, sexual situations, nudity, drug abuse

RUNNING TIME: 125 min.

Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat

DIRECTOR: Bo Welch

CAST: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning, Spencer Breslin

SYNOPSIS: Fond memories of the 1957 children's book about the feline that wreaks friendly havoc in the home of too-perfect little girl are trashed in crude-humored fashion by Myers as the mischievous beast.

WHAT WE SAID: St. Petersburg Times reviewer Philip Booth gave Cat a C and advised readers to stick with the animated TV version. "Parents and grandparents may be mystified, if not downright irked, by the story's transformation from silly, educationally enhancing verse, with a bit of sophisticated subversion, to an overblown, special effects-enhanced concoction. . . . Bathroom humor has its place, and so do sexual references, but not in a movie so aggressively aimed at the grade-school set."

MPAA RATING: PG; bathroom humor, sexual references

RUNNING TIME: 95 min.

Veronica Guerin

DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher

CAST: Cate Blanchett, Brenda Fricker, Ciaran Hinds, Darragh Kelly, Laurence Kinlan, Gerard McSorley, Colin Farrell

SYNOPSIS: True story of an intrepid Irish journalist who risks her life to expose a drug lord's grip on 1990s Dublin.

WHAT WE SAID: Booth gave Veronica Guerin a B, praising Blanchett's performance in the title role and Irish actor McSorley as a ferocious mobster. But, he noted, "Schumacher's affection for melodrama mars an otherwise taut, tense film."

MPAA RATING: R; violence; profanity; sexual situations

RUNNING TIME: 98 min.

[Last modified March 17, 2004, 13:41:11]


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