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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

Lukewarm reception

By BILLY NORRIS
Published September 13, 2004

Photo
[New Line Cinema]
One phone call turns the life of Chris Evans’ character, Ryan, upside down.

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Movie: Cellular

Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror situations, language and some sexual references

Summary: Ryan (Chris Evans) gets a strange call on his cell phone from a woman who claims to be in quite a predicament. The woman, Jessica Martin (Kim Basinger), has been kidnapped and locked in the attic of a house. She has no idea where she is, and the men who kidnapped her plan to capture her son and her husband, who apparently has done something to these guys. Ryan is skeptical when she tells him she hard-wired a smashed phone and reached him by complete fluke, but he decides to help her. As the situation escalates, the fate of the Martin family is in Ryan's hands, and he finds himself in the middle of a scandal involving dirty police officers and a telling videotape. He must resort to drastic measures to save them from certain murder.

My View: This film never really made up its mind whether it was a thriller or a spoof. The comic relief was overdone, which conflicted with the suspenseful nature of the plot. What we are presented with is a giant gray area - a film stuck in the middle of two very different genres and confused about which road to take. This is not Kim Basinger at her best, as her delivery and screen presence are contrived and weak. Chris Evans handles his role fairly well, though. The one shining spot in the cast of main characters is William H. Macy, as Sgt. Mooney, who is consistently solid and funny. Cameo appearances by (winner of the popular series Last Comic Standing) Dat Phan and an upset Porsche owner are pluses as well. The movie did get better as it progressed, and the ending of this perfectly timed 93-minute film and the story line twists that came with it raised its overall worth. The first half of this one basically stunk, but all in all this is not a bad outing.

Recommendations: This one isn't good for much more than its humor. I could definitely take or leave the thriller aspect. With that in mind, it is good for a rainy day or a video rental in a couple of months.

Grade: C-

Billy Norris, 16, is in the 11th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the X-Team.

[Last modified September 10, 2004, 14:10:12]

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