Bruce Almighty. Tom Shadyac. In the new Jim Carrey vehicle, the hyperactive comedian's whole repertoire of Silly-Putty contortions and extravagant hamming is deployed in the service of a higher power. Playing a self-absorbed Buffalo, New York, TV reporter who gets a chance to play God, Carrey uses omnipotence to blow girls' dresses over their heads and walk on Lake Erie (which is great fun), but in the end Carrey, the writers and director Shadyac mean to remind us of the difference between mere power and the wise use of power. Not a bad lesson in these war-torn times -- especially when the movie's fatherly God is played by Morgan Freeman, come to earth as a silver-haired janitor. With Friends' Jennifer Aniston and Steven Carell. Gallo. Opens Friday, May 23, at multiple locations. (Bill Gallo)
City of Ghosts. Matt Dillon. Opens Friday, May 23, at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.
The In-Laws. Andrew Fleming. With Michael Douglas in the Peter Falk role as conniving CIA agent and Albert Brooks in the Alan Arkin part of the nebbishy doc, and both as mismatched fathers of an engaged couple, this remake is bigger and broader, but not better. It winds up like all Hollywood comedies these days -- merely resembling something funny, offering up what you presume are jokes because every line ends with an exclamation mark followed by a wink -- or an explosion, or at least a leap from a very tall building, or something so ridiculous you're meant to roll your eyes so far back in your head till your mouth automatically springs open and emits what sounds like a chuckle. You half-expect Douglas, who is to comedy what Albert Brooks is to Catholicism, to look into the camera and say to the audience, "C'mon, now that was funny." No way, pal. Opens Friday, May 23, at multiple locations. (Robert Wilonsky)
Lawrence of Arabia. David Lean. British lieutenant T.E. Lawrence (Peter O'Toole) rewrites the history of Saudi Arabia in this re-release of the 1962 Academy Award-winner. New 35mm print. Opens Friday, May 23, at the Tivoli. NR
The Man Without a Past. Aki Kaurismaki. Those who crave art-house movies with a capital A will likely dig the whimsy of Kaurismaki's latest, a spin on the old "man with amnesia" formula last used on these shores in Frank Darabont's The Majestic. A man (Markku Peltola), billed only as "M" and remaining nameless for most of the movie, gets off a train and is savagely beaten by thugs. Declared dead in a local hospital, he nonetheless gets up, fixes his own broken nose and starts walking, ending up in a local seaside community where he finds work with the Salvation Army. Much of the movie focuses on the idiosyncrasies of the local characters, from a peculiarly stingy landlord to the band that learns to reconcile rock & roll with Jesus. About two-thirds of the way in, an actual plot develops, and the movie gathers so much steam you'll wish it had started sooner. Inevitably the man's past resurfaces, but he likes his new amnesia life -- which one will he choose? Doesn't matter; the film's all about the quirkiness along the way. Opens Friday, May 23, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Luke Y. Thompson)