By STEVE PERSALL
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 2001
The Wedding Planner (PG-13) Pop diva Jennifer Lopez plays Mary, a San Francisco wedding arranger whose own love life is going nowhere. If you can believe Lopez has trouble getting dates, this is your kind of movie.
Mary breaks the cardinal rule for wedding planners: She falls in love with the groom, Dr. Steve Edison (Matthew McConaughey). Alleged hilarity ensues as Mary dodges her feelings and Dr. Steve squirms in front of his fiancee (Bridgette Wilson). Guess who gets the ring?
First impressions: ". . . as dull a date movie as anything since the most recent batch of bad young-love flicks starring Freddie Prinze Jr. The fact that the lead characters are played by older, more accomplished actors doesn't make much of a difference . . .
"(Lopez) mostly walks through her role, attempting to suspend disbelief as a sweet Miss Lonely Hearts... (McConaughey) relies on low-grade charm and that disarming Texas accent for a performance that's middling at best. The actors' chemistry is negligible, and they do little to elevate a story line that calls for arguments, misunderstandings (and) a drunken breakdown." (Philip Booth, Times correspondent)
Second thoughts: Zzzzzzzzzz . . . sorry, did you need something?
Rental audience: J-Lo fans with time to kill.
Rent it if you enjoy: Gossiping about how Puff Daddy blew it.
(R) The idea is as outdated as the title. A vampire (Gerard Butler) is unleashed from his tomb by art thieves, then flies to New Orleans for a bite with the daughter of his nemesis, Dr. Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer). Craven banked on his name in the title to draw the Freddy Kreuger crowd. He was wrong.
First impressions: ". . . a thudding, suspense-free montage of unshocking shock effects and more severed heads than toppled during the French Revolution . . . It's a little sad to see actors of the quality of Plummer and Jonny Lee Miller struggling straight-faced to dignify this sewage." (Stephen Holden, New York Times)
Second thoughts: People from New York know sewage when they smell it.
Rental audience: Gorehounds; Trekkies hoping co-star Jeri Ryan goes nude (she doesn't).
Rent it if you enjoy: Ketchup and Karo syrup.
New and noteworthy for digital players
Snatch (special edition)
Guy Ritchie's frenzied crime comedy Snatch is tailor-made for DVD, where freeze-frame and rewind modes enable viewers to enjoy what zipped by so rapidly in theaters.
Snatch is edited at such a rapid pace it seems almost subliminal. The camera pans and zooms through a muddled caper so wildly that it practically leaves skidmarks on the screen. Each shot contains some eccentric, artful touch; split screens, superimposed images and tracking stunts that our eyes couldn't digest until the next scene.
Ritchie -- the Guy who married Madonna -- should be as enamored of film's dramatic purpose as its visceral potential. Stripped of its daredevil visuals, Snatch is merely another son of Pulp Fiction where lowlifes collide in different circles and convene in some cosmic coincidence. Taking time on DVD to admire the parts will be more satisfying than the whole.
The swerving plot begins with Franky Four Fingers (Oscar winner Benecio Del Toro) posing as a Hasidic Jew to steal an 86-carat diamond for his boss, Cousin Avi (Farina). Boxing promoters Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy (Stephen Graham) are arranging fixed fights with a scary mobster named Flat Top (Alan Ford). Everybody deals with gypsies led by "One-Punch" Mickey O'Neil, played by Brad Pitt with an indecipherable brogue.
The two-disc special edition of Snatch includes an alternate commentary track by Ritchie, a behind-the-scenes featurette, photo gallery, preview trailers and several deleted scenes. Between those extras and the remote control pause button, Snatch may finally make sense.
Videos worth another look
How did you like those Fourth of July fireworks last night? The show doesn't have to end on July 5 or any other day, since Hollywood loves things that blow up for dramatic or comedic effect.
Light the fuse on these video favorites for safer enjoyment that won't leave your ears ringing:
To Catch a Thief -- The most famous fireworks scene in film history. Grace Kelly invites Cary Grant to her Paris hotel room to view the display, then seduces him into another suave jewel theft. Alfred Hitchcock's use of pyrotechnics as sexual metaphor has been often imitated, never duplicated.
Red Firecracker, Green Firecracker -- From China, where gunpowder originated, comes this romantic drama about a woman (Jing Ning) who inherits her father's fireworks factory. A wandering painter (Wu Gang) claims her heart, but marriage is forbidden.
The Sandlot -- Neighborhood children play baseball during a Fourth of July picnic while fireworks blaze and Ray Charles sings America the Beautiful. I dare you not to choke up during that scene.
The Natural -- Aging slugger Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) finds one more home run in his bat, a majestic shot sparking fireworks as he rounds the bases.
Sleepless in Seattle -- Everyone from Doris Day to Bugs Bunny has fallen in love to the glare of fireworks. This time, it's Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan being saluted by New York City for finally finding each other.
Fireworks -- Mostly fireworks of the gunfire kind, but who can resist that title? Japanese director Takeshi Kitano is a master of mayhem, this time adding tender tragedy for a tough cop in debt to the Yakuza.
The Three Musketeers -- Who knew that castles in 17th century France were equipped with fireworks displays? Director Richard Lester guessed so, adding flash to some already impressive derring-do in this 1973 romp.
The Mighty -- A terminally ill boy (Kieran Culkin) bonds with a sulking brute (Eldon Ratliff) during a fireworks show in this magical coming-of-age tale. Sharon Stone shines as Culkin's concerned mother.
Manhattan -- Fireworks, New York City's skyline and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue make the black-and-white opening of Woody Allen's tragi-comedy one of the most memorable intros ever.