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quick flicks

High Crimes, Monsoon Wedding, Big Trouble, National Lampoon's Van Wilder

Enter Morgan Freeman, who's always terrific. Despite the leads' obvious chemistry, the movie quickly disintegrates into a seemingly endless series of car chases, missing witnesses and conspiracy-theory-style paranoia. Far too feeble, "High Crimes" wastes the much-anticipated reunion of Judd and Freeman. And that's criminal.

"Monsoon Wedding" — This Mira Nair movie about heart and home as a huge extended New Delhi family prepares for a wedding is a wacky delight. Delightful and insightful, the movie engages us as if we too were one of the family. Nair and screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan display a deep cultural knowledge and an obvious love for both the physical and emotional landscape they explore. Deeply sensual — the cinematography swirls with the lively colors of India — and overflowing with vibrant characters, "Monsoon Wedding" serves up secrets, passion, love and honor with tasty results. And it's in English (most of the time), so you can't use subtitles as an excuse to miss this genuine treat.

"Big Trouble" — Remember how funny Tim Allen's "Galaxy Quest" was? Or how clever a satire director Barry Sonnenfeld's "Get Shorty" was? Well, Tim Allen may lead another super ensemble cast in this movie from the folks behind "Get Shorty," but that's where the similarities end. "Big Trouble" is woefully out-of-date. Postponed for seven months in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the movie's plot and jokes about inept airport security, hijackers and suitcase bombs are still awkward and eerie. The good-natured cast includes Rene Russo, Dennis Farina, Janeane Garofalo and Patrick Warburton, among others. They give their all, but the movie falls flat. "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" — Warning to pastry lovers: If the apple pie scene in "American Pie" left you dazed and disturbed, don't even think about catching this lousy bit of lowbrow lameness featuring TV-sitcom star Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder, a seventh-year college student. But his party-hearty lifestyle has wealthy daddy (Tim Matheson in a cameo) pulling the plug on his funds. So Van becomes something of a "party liaison" (OK, he pimps pretty girls at law-student parties) to earn his tuition. The most fun you'll have watching this ungainly mess of pathetic acting, poorly dubbed dialogue and dimly lit cinematography is counting the boom mikes visible throughout the movie.

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