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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

ADDICTED TO LOVE. There's so much wrong with this movie you'd need a chart to explain it all: Among other things, it glorifies stalking, promotes violence against innocent French people, and stars Meg Ryan. Matthew Broderick plays a sweet-natured but deeply deranged astronomer who destroys the life of his ex-fiancée's new boyfriend (Tchéky Karyo). He's helped in this endeavor by some illegal listening equipment, his collection of cockroaches, and a violently unstable woman (Ryan) who was Karyo's last girlfriend. Of course, while making their ex-beloved's lives miserable, Broderick and Ryan fall in love. Nonetheless, I couldn't help thinking this whole plot could have been avoided with a simple restraining order. --DiGiovanna

AUSTIN POWERS. Saturday Night Live castaway Mike Meyers is in his element as "International Man of Mystery" Austin Powers, a swinging '60s fashion photographer by day, mod undercover British Intelligence agent by night. He's also his own arch nemesis, Dr. Evil, who catapults the action 30 years into the future by launching himself into outer space in a vessel shaped like the Big Boy, in which he and his cat are cryogenically frozen. This psychedelic romp through the spy-TV conventions of the '60s is like a Monkees episode choreographed by Michael Jackson on acid, with a bit of Get Smartness and James Bondage co-opted to hilarious effect. It's not a spoof, really. It's just Mike Myers having a blast veering between sophisticated and juvenile as an unfrozen swinger chasing down evil and free love in the inhospitable '90s. For revelers in cameo appearances and pop culture references of days of yore, there's only one thing you can say about this satirical carnival of cheap laughs: "Smashing, baby!" --Wadsworth

BREAKDOWN. This is one of those small, seemingly inconsequential movies that sneaks in and proves to be worlds more entertaining than its "blockbuster" competition. The premise is simple enough: While driving across the desert, yuppie Kurt Russell's wife Kathleen Quinlan is cleverly kidnapped by yahoos, and Russell has to save her with few resources and even less information. Writer/director Jonathan Mostow neatly builds a queasy, stranded-feeling tension that rarely ebbs, and smartly never lets Russell seem like anything other than an ordinary guy. The resulting payoffs are huge, and at its best Breakdown recalls Steven Spielberg's Duel, or that great cropduster sequence in Hitchcock's North by Northwest. The lubberly J.T. Walsh adds a healthy dose of creepiness as a two-faced truck driver. --Woodruff

CITIZEN RUTH. A comedy about abortion? For that alone, Citizen Ruth deserves high marks--if you believe one role of popular art is to tackle the issues of our times. If you don't, you probably won't be interested in Citizen Ruth, which careens between stereotypes of doughy, suburban Baby Savers on a crusade for God, and militant, lesbian moon-goddess worshippers intent on keeping feminist slogan-slinging alive. Caught in the middle is the stereotypical Ruth, a paint-huffing white trash nowhere girl who becomes the unwitting poster child of both camps. Laura Dern plays Ruth, an uncompromisingly honest loser who becomes the center of public spectacle when a judge quietly suggests she can reduce her sentence if she decides to "take care of her situation" while in jail. Some of the satire is scathingly apropos to our media-crazed, capitalistic culture--such as the bidding war that ensues to win Ruth's allegiance--but even the equal-opportunity-offender approach seemed to wear thin early on, seeming more clichéd than cutting. Still, when was the last time a spirited debate about abortion was fair game for a few good laughs? It may not be a perfect comedy, but at least it's a comparatively intelligent one...and long, long overdue. (The movie opened more than a year ago in New York.) --Wadsworth

THE FIFTH ELEMENT. Writer and director Luc Besson sacrifices sensibility for style in this excessively fashion-designed science fiction movie. Besson, known for Subway, La Femme Nikita and The Professional, tries here for a sort of Blade Runner/Star Wars hybrid but ends up with something closer to Stargate meets Pret a Porter. But it's not just another sci-fi flop--the film has a distinct French flavor (even hero Bruce Willis' cat looks French)--and you can't take your eyes off the screen even when it's mind-numbing to watch. As with The Professional, the story places intense emphasis on the preternatural beauty of a young woman (Milla Jovovich) who, this time, is turned into a half-naked, super-powerful-yet-sweetly-vulnerable Raggedy Ann doll. Gary Oldman once again plays the villain; now a new-wave Hitler cowboy with buck teeth. If Besson took any of this seriously, the movie would reek; he didn't, so it's just an eye-poppingly bizarre experience. --Woodruff

TRIAL AND ERROR. A predictable, flatline Hollywood legal comedy (a perfunctory cross between My Cousin Vinny and Something Wild) without an ounce of bite or innovation. The leads make the most of a formulaic script dealing with an actor (Michael Richards) pretending to be a lawyer to fill in for his high-strung, Type A attorney buddy (Jeff Daniels) who gets lost in the Nevada desert, falls in love with a beautiful blonde and discovers all the important things in life. The film strives for a surface kind of cynicism, only to invoke the Love Conquers All escape clause in the end. One of the perennial and most irritating of Hollywood messages: We all need to let our hair down and stop trying to overachieve in order to find ourselves. If it's so damn easy to drop all your over-reaching money grubbing material ways and fulfill your inner self, then why is Spago double booked through the end of the millennium? --Marchant

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