Chaos. Coline Serreau. A well-to-do Parisian couple see a hooker (Rachida Brakni) beaten nearly to death but don't call the police or try to interfere; the guilt-ridden wife (Catherine Frot) becomes devoted to nursing the woman back to health and finds her life turned upside down. Coline Serreau is best known for her so-so 1985 comedy Three Men and a Cradle (remade here as Three Men and a Baby), but Chaos is on a whole different level. Part social criticism, part melodrama, part suspense film, it's primarily -- despite its grim subject matter -- an ironic comedy. Although men as a group are the main target, women are not immune to Serreau's barbs. Brakni gives a terrific performance as an amazingly brilliant and resilient victim, and Vincent Lindon is appropriately irritating as the cold-hearted husband who eventually gets his comeuppance. Serreau works out the complex plot mechanics perfectly in an altogether first-rate film. Opens Friday, June 13, at the Tivoli. (Andy Klein)
Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Troy Miller. In this peculiar prequel, are Derek Richardson (young Harry) and Eric Christian Olsen (young Lloyd) as amusing as Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey in the Farrelly brothers' 1994 hit Dumb and Dumber? The answer is no. They are not. But this doesn't mean that they don't try. The story concerns sweetly silly Harry and nastier Lloyd's induction into a bogus "special" high-school class by their wily principal (Eugene Levy, overdue for a vacation) and lascivious lunch lady (Cheri Oteri), who're both scamming for grants. Despite Lloyd's unusual philosophies ("Girls are for fags"), both meet and fall for a pretty wannabe journo (Rachel Nichols) and proceed to bust the fornicating faculty. Exactly as you might expect, this thing is good for a few cheap little laughs and no more. As one punk student in the film proudly proclaims, "There is nothing more American than not doing anything and getting away with it." It's precisely this lack of ambition that hamstrings what could have been a bizarrely satisfying comedy. Opens Friday, June 13, at multiple locations. (Gregory Weinkauf)
Hollywood Homicide. Ron Shelton. Opens Friday, June 13, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.
Owning Mahowny. Richard Kwietniowski. Opens Friday, June 13, at the Hi-Pointe. Reviewed this issue.
Rugrats Go Wild! John Eng, Norton Virgien. To all those people who've missed Bruce Willis's singing career: Prepare to have your heart leap for joy. Not only does the returning Bruno cover Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" on this film's soundtrack, but as the voice of dog Spike, he even gets to duet with Chrissie Hynde, voicing a snow leopard. Willis also gets to deliver possibly the most unpleasant line of dialogue heard in a movie all year: "I ate one of Chuckie's diapers once, and lemme tellya, that is spicy." The movie's plot involves the Rugrats' getting shipwrecked and encountering the far more interesting Wild Thornberries (patriarch voiced by Tim Curry), but the real selling point here is the return of Odorama, the interactive scratch-and-sniff process pioneered by John Waters. "Diaper," mercifully, is not one of the odors. The animation looks good, especially when CG-enhanced, but the Rugrats babies' constant snot jokes, bug-eating and "cute" mispronunciations grate after a while. If only Klasky-Csupo would resurrect their best and most adult show, Duckman, for the big screen. Opens Friday, June 13, at multiple locations. (Luke Y. Thompson)