By Times Staff
A look at what's hitting the shelves
DIRECTOR: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
CAST: Jimmy Fallon, Drew Barrymore, Jack Kehler, Ione Skye, James B. Sikking, JoBeth Williams, Lenny Clarke
SYNOPSIS: A die-hard Boston Red Sox fan named Ben (Fallon) must choose between the team and the woman of his dreams (Barrymore).
WHAT WE SAID: St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall gave the movie a B-. "Fever Pitch is a surprisingly subdued film from directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly (There's Something About Mary, Kingpin), who repress their best (i.e., raunchiest) instincts in favor of sunny days and partly cloudy problems," he wrote. "Fallon and Barrymore's chemistry is fine, although their dialogue lacks zingers. The script's strength is its awareness of what it takes - and costs - to be such a devoted fan. People like Ben do exist. . . . Fever Pitch realizes the humor in such insanity, but doesn't mine it for all it's worth."
MPAA RATING: PG-13; profanity, crude and sexual humor
RUNNING TIME: 105 min.The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
DIRECTOR: Garth Jennings
CAST: Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, Warwick Davis, voices of Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren and Stephen Fry
SYNOPSIS: Douglas Adams' cult novel/radio/TV hit lurches onto the big screen, more frantic than funny. Everyman Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) travels the cosmos seeking the core question of the universe after learning an odd answer.
WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the movie a D-. "I have no problem with Vogons blasting Earth to bits, if they'll destroy the monstrosity that is Garth Jennings' movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," he wrote. "What a garish, poorly paced, nonsensical pile of intergalactic garbage."
MPAA RATING: PG; mild violence and profanity, mature themes
RUNNING TIME: 108 min.Nina's Tragedies
DIRECTOR: Savi Gavison
CAST: Ayelet Zorer, Yoram Hattab, Alon Abutbul, Aviv Elkabeth, Shmil Ben Ari, Dov Navon, Anat Waxman, Jonathan Bar-Giora, Jenya Dodina, Osnat Fishman, Gili Shushan
SYNOPSIS: A young Israeli boy has a serious crush on his aunt, whose husband died in a terrorist attack. Winner of 11 Israeli Film Academy awards, including best picture of 2003. Shown with English subtitles.
WHAT WE SAID: The Times did not review this film.
MPAA RATING: Not rated, probably R
RUNNING TIME: 110 min.Nobody Knows
DIRECTOR: Hirokazu Koreeda
CAST: Yuya Yagira, Ayu Kitaura, Hiei Kimura, You, Momoko Shimizu, Hanae Kan, Yukiko Okamoto
SYNOPSIS: Four Japanese children care for themselves after being deserted by their mother.
WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the film a B+. "Writer-director Koreeda Hirokazu doesn't pile up perils for the children. Yet there are tense passages of potential accidents and discovery that, combined with the young actors' appeal, are grabbers," he wrote. "The movie is too long, but the leisurely pace is appropriate. We feel the children's monotony, and knowing this situation will only be solved when they grow up lends a tragic feel to their beaming smiles."
MPAA RATING: PG-13; mature themes, sexual references
RUNNING TIME: 141 min.Palindromes
DIRECTOR: Todd Solondz
CAST: Stephen Adly-Guirgis, Ellen Barkin, Alexander Brickel, Rachel Corr, Hannah Freiman, John Gemberling, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Shayna Levine, Richard Masur, Tyler Maynard, Debra Monk, Valerie Shusterov, Stephen Singer
SYNOPSIS: Director Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse) confounds again, casting eight actors of various ages to play a teenage runaway coping with the abortion issue.
WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the film a C+. Having the lead role played by eight actors "may be the filmmaker's attempt to show abortion as an issue for every woman who can bear children. Or it may simply be a means of keeping our attention while Aviva's story meanders into distracting territories," he wrote. "Very likely it's a disguise for the story's arbitrary shallowness. Vital things occur in Palindromes - parental oppression, religious delusions, even murder - but so nonchalantly that their weight never sinks in."
MPAA RATING: R
RUNNING TIME: 100 min.Rock School
DIRECTOR: Don Argott
CAST: Paul Green, Asa, C.J. Tywoniak, Tucker Collins, Madi Diaz-Svalgard, Napoleon Murphy-Brown, Will O'Connor
SYNOPSIS: Documentary about a real school that teaches rock 'n' roll.
WHAT WE SAID: The film never reached Tampa Bay area theaters. But Times reviewer Rick Gershman had planned to give it a B+.
MPAA RATING: R; language
RUNNING TIME: 93 min.Winter Solstice
DIRECTOR: Josh Sternfeld
CAST: Anthony LaPaglia, Aaron Stanford, Mark Webber, Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, Michelle Monaghan, Brendan Sexton III, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
SYNOPSIS: A widower (LaPaglia) copes with rebellious sons, finding a glimmer of hope for the future in a new neighbor (Janney).
WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the film a B. "Nothing much happens in Josh Sternfeld's suburban drama, since everything informing these characters happened before, and what they will do after the end credits is unclear. Yet the film is a smartly defined character study of bruised people going somewhere beyond the rut they're in. Winter Solstice moves slowly, but every minute counts," he wrote. "Winter Solstice simply eavesdrops on a family, if not exactly in crisis, then at least in flux. It's a patiently suggestive piece of work."
MPAA RATING: R; language
RUNNING TIME: 95 min.