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"Bring It On," "The Art of War," "The Crew,""Butterfly" and "Saving Grace"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Bring It On"!B! "The Art of War"!B! "The Crew"!B! "Butterfly"!B! "Saving Grace"

"Bring It On" — Ah, Cheerleaders. Whether you love 'em or loathe 'em, you'll find something to cheer about in this comic look at the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading. Kirsten Dunst is the new captain of the reigning national champion high school squad. As soon as she takes command, an unfortunate pyramid-related tumble sidelines one of her teammates and then she discovers all of the team's trophy-winning routines were stolen from a poor but talented L.A. inner-city squad. Yikes! What's a spunky, cheer-happy captain to do? Win at all costs or do the right thing? Dunst handles her role well, but it's Gabrielle Union (the captain of the inner-city squad) who shines.

"The Art of War" — Wesley Snipes does his best to breathe life into the overworked spy action genre. He nearly succeeds, playing Neil Shaw, a kind of covert special agent for the United Nations. Despite being saddled with a story that tries to get by grafting current events onto the uninspired plot device of an innocent man being framed, Snipes plays it cool. When the movie works, it's thanks to Snipes and director Christian Duguay's tight pacing and expertly choreographed action scenes. With "surprise" twists that are nothing of the sort, it's no surprise the movie never strays far from the tried-and-true.

"The Crew" — Fuggeddaboudit! Lumping cliché after cliché on top of stereotype after stereotype, this "Grumpy Old Men" retread grows old fast. Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, Dan Hedaya and Seymour Cassel play aging mobsters who are rejuvenated when they try to pull off one last caper. About to lose their retirement digs in South Beach due to advanced trendification, these older but wiserguys use fraud, sawed-off shotguns, purloined corpses and arson to save the day. Sporadically diverting, "The Crew" offers a few good lines and a few good laughs.

"Butterfly" — Beautifully composed and photographed, this Spanish tale about a cross-generational friendship offers a poignant lesson in moral compromise. Set in the time between the fall of Spain's monarchy and the rise of Generalissimo Franco, we see the changes through the eyes of Moncho (Manuel Lozano), a sensitive asthmatic child. All the pre-Civil War turmoil takes a back-seat to his lessons in botany and biology from his kindly, elderly teacher Don Gregorio (the superb Fernando Fernan Gomez). Their idyllic studies end when fascism rears its ugly head. Director Jose Cuerda handily accomplishes the tricky feat of weaving a story that is both personal and political.

"Saving Grace" — This small-scale delight offers what we Yanks love best in British flicks: an isolated locale, quirky natives, charming accents and a mix of comedy and drama. While not easy crafting a comedy that requires viewers to root for a supplier of illegal drugs, "Saving Grace" manages this sticky wicket with style. Oscar-nominated actress Brenda Blethyn ("Secrets & Lies") is an appealing mix of unflagging determination and naivete as the widow who turns to hemp cultivation to save the family home. Craig Ferguson ("The Drew Carey Show") is equally engaging as her gardener and cohort in crime.

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