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"Moulin Rouge," "The Animal," "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" and "Pearl Harbor"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Moulin Rouge"!B! "The Animal"!B! "What's The Worst That Could Happen?"!B! "Pearl Harbor"

"Moulin Rouge" — More artistic vision than traditional movie, Australian writer/director Baz Luhrmann's new film offers up a sensory overload intended to breathe life into the once-prominent musical film form. For the most part, he succeeds.

The film's hero and narrator is Christian (Ewan McGregor), a penniless poet who gravitates to the Bohemian lifestyle of 1890s Paris. His goals are simple and pure: "to write about truth, beauty, freedom and love." He soon finds himself falling for Satine (Nicole Kidman), the high-priced chanteuse at the Moulin Rouge.

While some will find "Moulin Rouge" a postmodern hell, others will be jazzed by the bombarding spectacle and the physical energy that rushes from the screen. But unlike Lurhmann's "Romeo + Juliet," which had Shakespeare's timeless tale of star-crossed lovers to propel its heady mix of anachronisms, "Moulin Rouge" falls flat when the music stops.

"The Animal" — While not quite the guilty pleasure of his "Deuce Bigalow," Rob Schneider gives fans what they want — lots of physical comedy and a hapless sap who seems to succeed against all sorts of grossly humorous odds. This time he's police clerk Marvin Mange who dreams of being a real cop. Thanks to a near-fatal car crash and some transspecies transplants, his dreams come true — until this new man-animal meld has to fight the feeling from his newly transplanted animal instincts. Although the biggest laughs were plundered for the trailer, Schneider still manages to give the silly plot his comic all.

"What's The Worst That Could Happen?" — Uh, how about this tired, excuse for a comedy? Martin Lawrence, who scored big last summer with "Big Momma's House," doesn't fare nearly as well here. Gone is the good-natured fun of his impersonations as he engages in an escalating battle of wits and wills with Danny DeVito. DeVito's a smarmy billionaire who ends up holding up Lawrence's master thief. But instead of comic hijinks ensuing, what follows is a series of tedious, mean-spirited and unfunny confrontations.

"Pearl Harbor" — This one has been expertly marketed for more than a year; we've been teased and titillated with trailers showing us shots of Japanese Zeros flying over Hawaii on that calm Sunday in 1941 forever known as "The Day of Infamy." But the first bomb doesn't hit Hickham Field until close to the 90-minute mark of this three-hour-plus movie. Instead, we're treated to Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett playing out another riff on that World War II B-movie tradition, the love triangle.

"Pearl Harbor" will still be the movie to beat this summer, because when those bombs do drop, we're in for an amazing 40 minutes of whooshing cameras, hurtling fireballs and the mesmerizing chaos of war. This pop-cultured "Pearl" shines when making war, not love.

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