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JANUARY 11, 1999: 

THE FACULTY. Scriptwriter Kevin Williamson (Scream), the John Hughes of the '90s, updates the horror-science fiction classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers for a hilarious and clever teen film that explores something we all suspected--that our high school teachers were aliens. Piper Laurie, Jon Stewart, et al. play teachers whose bodies play host to alien parasites that strive to take over the world...or if that doesn't work out, Ohio. A handful of students, among them Zeke the Burnout (Josh Hartnett), Casey the Nerd (Elijah Wood), and Delilah the Socialite (Jordana Brewster), figure this out and spend much of the film searching for the Queen Alien. The well-written script places these incompatible teens in numerous Breakfast Clubesque situations, such as one in which all have to snort crushed caffeine pills to prove they're still human. As with Scream, The Faculty is very much of its time, with the now-obligatory references to popular culture, Neve Campbell, and poking fun at the slasher film convention of showing teenage T&A. --Higgins

STEPMOM. Joan Collins and Linda Evans taught us how to take care of deep hatred when they had knockdown brawls on Dynasty. Sadly, but a decade later, Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon have forgotten this very satisfying solution to sisterhood gone awry. And we the viewers are the ones who suffer most, because I would have liked nothing better than to see those two end up scantily clad in a fountain, flailing and screaming "take that, you witch!" and "nice dye job!" Unfortunately, the lesson of Stepmom is not so wholesome, though it is one we've gotten before: If you want to be a good mom, you can't work. So all we get are a few G-rated verbal insults dished out by the dying Susan, such as, "You were late picking my kids up!" and "You don't know how to be a good mother!" Julia then quits her glamorous job as a high-fashion photographer and loses her leather pants to hang out with Susan and learn how to properly rear the bratty kids of her suspiciously absent fiancée (Ed Harris). If forced bonding is your thing, go for it; but I think it's kind of sick. I'd rather stay home and watch Heather Locklear kick everybody's ass on Melrose Place. --Higgins

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