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Also opening: Perhaps heaven can wait

By STEVE PERSALL, Times Film Critic
Published September 15, 2005

Just Like Heaven (PG-13), like Ghost, makes that "till death do us part" pledge just a formality. Actually, death brings together ill-fated physician Elizabeth Martinson (Reese Witherspoon) and architect David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), who gets a great deal on Elizabeth's apartment after she's killed in an accident.

He's the only mortal who can see her, and Elizabeth isn't convinced she's dead. Enter an "aura reader" named Daryl, played by Jon Heder, whose Napoleon Dynamite cult celebrity is heavily relied upon by this movie. Can Daryl and David help Elizabeth completely cross over to the other side? Or will true love make everyone wonder why she should? Do we really need to ask?

- STEVE PERSALL, Times film critic

Double dose of horror

Horror fans get their pick of two new releases Friday. Gore hounds get Venom (R), a Deliverance rip-off set in Louisiana swamps, an unfortunate setting in light of given current events, a situation that apparently does not concern Dimension Films. It does seem like a bad time to portray anyone living there as a drooling psychotic with murderous tendencies. But that's the cruel nature of the beasts making movies like Venom and those buying tickets to them.

Tamer, and less likely to offend, is Cry Wolf (PG-13), another movie that proves too few teens learned lessons from the Scream trilogy. This time, high school students with superiority complexes make up a campus legend of a serial killer to scare uncool classmates. We'll see who's cool when grisly murders really begin to occur.

Neither movie was viewed in time for Weekend review. But would it really matter?

- S.P.

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