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quick flicks

Mr. Deeds, Hey Arnold! the Movie, Minority Report, Undercover Brother, Bourne Identity

As Longfellow Deeds, a sweet-natured pizzeria owner who inherits $40 billion from a rich uncle he didn't know he had, Sandler could have phoned in his skin-deep performance. Likable performances from Winona Ryder as a tabloid reporter who cozies up to Deeds and from John Turturro as a kinky butler aren't enough to save the movie. Although not exceptionally crude by today's ever-expanding PG-13 standards, "Mr. Deeds" is, however, no "Wedding Singer." Heck, it isn't even on par with "Big Daddy." Rating: **

"Hey Arnold! the Movie" — The show has a TV viewership of 42 million each month, so it's no wonder Nickelodeon has brought that 4th-grade hero with the football-shaped head to the big screen. The result is brimming with refreshing oddball characters and humor. Arnold and his pals unite to try and save their neighborhood from a development-hungry entrepreneur. He wants to pave their paradise and put up a massive shopping mall. Quirky fun with a message — though some parents may find that message too "liberal" — this big-screen adaptation never loses momentum, proving just why the cable 'toon is so popular. It does, however, carry a PG-rating because of the somewhat edgier aspects of Arnold's world. ***

"Minority Report" — From the very first frame, it's obvious that this Philip K. Dick-based sci-fi adventure is a Steven Spielberg guilty pleasure. And a more mature, edgier Spielberg at that. Even those who typically avoid sci-fi flicks will be entertained watching Tom Cruise's circa 2054 Everyman race against time and technology, unraveling an elaborate frame to prove his innocence. Shorn of hair and eyebrows, Samantha Morton steals the show, however, as Cruise's only helpmate, an empathetic foreseer of criminal intent. A mix of future shock and wishful thinking, "Minority Report" is a provocative, heart-pounding thriller where good men do the right thing against all odds. Rating: *****

"Undercover Brother" — If you can't remember the last time you laughed so hard you cried, then you need to catch Malcolm D. Lee 's "Undercover Brother." A clever bit of film-genre reconstruction, the movie skewers both the Mo' Fo delights of '70s blaxploitation flicks and the macho-mojo hogwash of James Bond. Eddie Griffin stars as a black Austin Powers-type whose neverending mission is to fight The Man. Structured more like a series of comedy skits instead of a linear narrative, "Undercover Brother" mines an amazing amount of humor and social commentary, without resorting to flatulence or bodily fluids for cheap laughs. Hands down, it's my favorite comedy so far this summer. Rating: ****

"Bourne Identity" — While this Matt Damon first attempt at being an action hero won't keep Tom Cruise awake worrying, the actor acquits himself well. Playing a man with amnesia, Damon must not only figure out who he is but why two men keep trying to kill him. "Run Lola Run's" Franka Potente co-stars as Bourne's outspoken cohort, but she and Damon have absolutely no on-screen chemistry. Equally disappointing is the lack of hip humor or exuberance from director Doug Liman ("Swingers," "Go"). Although nothing to rave about, this "Bourne" again thriller does deliver efficient, '60s-style escapist entertainment, complete with a breathtaking car chase.

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