Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Steve Oedekerk. This send-up of kung fu movies both highbrow and lowbrow features writer/director Oedekerk as the Chosen One; it also features, among the many no-doubt hilarious fight scenes, a knock-down, drag-out kung fu battle with a cow. Crazy. Opens Jan. 18 at multiple locations. NR
Little Otik. Jan Svankmajer. The latest film from acclaimed Czech animator Svankmajer is a grotesque fairytale for adults, a bit of whimsical folklore brought into the modern world by way of Little Shop of Horrors and Larry Cohen's It's Alive. Desperate for a child but unable to conceive one, a maternity-obsessed housewife (played with loony intensity by Veronika Zilkova) adopts a vaguely human-shaped tree stump, even faking a pregnancy to justify bringing her knobby discovery back home. This being a Svankmajer film, passions tend to get out of control and the new mother's love for the wooden "baby" brings it to sloppy, hungry life. The rapidly growing baby soon proves to be more than its new parents can handle, leading to the disappearance of the family cat, a handful of postmen and a snoopy social worker. More accessible than some of the director's recent work (though a bit repetitive at times), Little Otik uses animation sparingly and effectively, creating a sense of beneath-the-surface surrealism that threatens to split open the seams of the well-ordered live-action world at any moment. Plays at 7 p.m. Jan. 18-20 at Webster University. (RH)
Snow Dogs. Brian Levant. Opens Jan. 18 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.