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quick flicks

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Bad Company, Importance of Being Earnest, Undercover Brother

As entertaining as these actresses are, the movie's message seems to be that a fresh coat of pink paint and a bucket of gin can solve any problem. Sandra Bullock co-stars as Burstyn's estranged daughter, who's kidnapped and forced to walk the proverbial mile in her mama's high-heels. Playing the younger Vivi to Burstyn's elder version, Ashley Judd steals the movie and our hearts. A touching counterpoint to the loud, spoiled and blatantly outrageous veteran actresses, Judd makes us almost like the aging harridan Vivi has become.

"Bad Company"

Mindless entertainment for the summer hordes who've disengaged their brains, this lackluster spy thriller/odd-couple buddy pic boasts only one original thought — pairing Sir Anthony Hopkins with ranting funnyman Chris Rock. Everything else about the plot — from the separated-at-birth twins conceit to the head-pounding fights and requisite car chase. Rock is a streetwise punk whose brother was one of the CIA's top operatives. But he's been killed on an assignment with national security implications, so CIA veteran Hopkins must recruit and train the unwilling Rock to take his brother's place and save the U.S. While Hopkins would be interesting reading cereal-box copy, this is not Rock's breakthrough acting role.

"Importance of Being Earnest"

After his entertaining take on Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," Brit director Oliver Parker tackles Wilde's facilely frivolous masterpiece, "The Importance of Being Earnest." Unfortunately, the results aren't nearly as ideal as Parker's "Husband." Don't blame the cast, however; they are nearly impeccable: Judi Dench as fire-breathing dragon Lady Bracknell, Reese Witherspoon all soft and demure in late-Victorian garb, and Colin Firth casting meaningful glances at a breathy Frances O'Connor. Only Rupert Everett as Algernon seems less than to the manner born, choosing to deliver his lines in an odd mix of purr and mumble. More egregious, however, are Parker's less-than-successful attempts at "opening up" the scope and action of this timeless classic about language and cleverness. Even half-baked, this Wilde and woolly romantic comedy remains a delicious treat for discerning moviegoers.

"Undercover Brother"

If you can't remember the last time you laughed so hard you cried — and in a movie theater, no less — then you need to catch Malcolm D. Lee 's "Undercover Brother." A deftly clever bit of film-genre reconstruction, the movie not only parodies the Mo' fo dolomite delights of '70s blaxploitation flicks but its flip side, the super agent macho hogwash of James Bond. Eddie Griffin plays Anton Jackson (aka Undercover Brother), a black Austin Powers type sent to fight The Man after an African-American army general (Billy Dee Williams) drops his bid for the presidency in favor of opening up his own chain of fried chicken shacks. Unreeling like a series of comedy skits instead of a linear narrative, "Undercover Brother" gets to mine an amazing number of laughs and biting social commentary, all without resorting to flatulence or bodily fluids for a cheap laugh.

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