New Releases

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 16, 2006


DIRECTOR: John Madden

CAST: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Hope Davis, Jake Gyllenhaal

SYNOPSIS: The daughter of a brilliant, mad mathematician tries to deal with her father's death and legacy.

WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the movie a B. "There's always a feeling watching Proof that it's good for us, like a chicken soup remedy for what ails moviegoers," he wrote. "Director John Madden has all the ingredients for an awards contender: Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins, a stage play with Tony and Pulitzer prize credentials, and sophisticated themes of intelligentsia and family tension. It's a project so confidently classy that complaining about anything may be considered boorish. But Proof does have problems, chiefly that it never transcends its legitimate stage origins."

MPAA RATING: PG-13; profanity, brief sexuality and drug content


Saw II

DIRECTOR: Darren Lynn Bousman

CAST: Donnie Wahlberg, Shawnee Smith, Tobin Bell, Franky G., Glenn Plummer, Dina Meyer, Emmanuel Vaugier, Beverley Mitchell, Eric Knudsen

SYNOPSIS: Sequel to 2004's gory hit, with the serial killer Jigsaw (Bell) terrorizing a group of hostages and a burned-out detective (Wahlberg).

WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the movie a D-. "Saw II is no treat, but it expands on the tricks a bit, occasionally enough to rise above despicable to a level of mere garbage. By adding a few more conventional touches, the ghastly nature of first-time director Darren Lynn Bousman's sequel is less repulsive but still easily brushed off," he wrote.

MPAA RATING: R; grisly violence and gore, terror, language and drug content)


The Thing About My Folks

DIRECTOR: Raymond De Felitta

CAST: Paul Reiser, Peter Falk, Olympia Dukakis, Elizabeth Perkins, Lydia Jordan, Mackenzie Connolly

SYNOPSIS: A grandfather (Falk) deserted by his wife joins his son (Reiser) on a road trip of self-awareness. Funny, sappy and, thanks to Falk, better than it should be.

WHAT WE SAID: St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall gave the movie a B-. "Nothing surprises in The Thing About My Folks except how effective such timeworn material can be when the right people deliver it," he wrote. "The movie contains little that we haven't seen before, but charm can make anything seem a bit fresher."

MPAA RATING: PG-13; profanity, sexual content, mature themes



DIRECTOR: Jon Favreau

CAST: Jonah Bobo, Josh Hutcherson, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart, Tim Robbins

SYNOPSIS: A magical board game propels children into an outer-space adventure.

WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the movie a C-. "Zathura is a clunky retread of Jumanji, a movie that was okay a decade ago, when a computer-generated rhino charging through a suburban home was a special effects breakthrough," he wrote. "Both stories are lifted from writings by Chris Van Allsburg, proving even authors of skimpy picture books rehash themselves. Zathura will become as forgettable as Jumanji, but a lot faster.''

MPAA RATING: PG; mild sci-fi violence, brief crude language

RUNNING TIME: 103 min.

Nine Lives

DIRECTOR: Rodrigo Garc’a

CAST: Stephen Dillane, Dakota Fanning, William Fichtner, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Holly Hunter, Jason Isaacs, Joe Mantegna, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Mary Kay Place, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Aidan Quinn, Miguel Sandoval, Amanda Seyfried, Sissy Spacek, Robin Wright Penn

SYNOPSIS: Nine short films focused on women with problems.

WHAT WE SAID: Persall gave the film a C-. "Each of the chapters is filmed in single, unbroken takes without many flourishes calling attention to the technique. Most of the time, this interesting approach overshadows the nothingness of the drama,'' he wrote.

MPAA RATING: R; mature themes, strong profanity