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quick flicks

Men In Black, Like Mike, Minority Report, Importance of Being Earnest

"Like Mike" — Lil' Bow Wow slam-dunks his first crossover into the movies with this "Cinderfella-style" basketball tale. Not only believably at ease and natural, the teen rapper has that magnetic kind of charm the camera seems to adore. Sadly, the script chosen for his first foray onto the big screen is lamer than lame. Bow Wow (he's dropped the "Lil", it seems) plays Calvin Cambridge, a 14-year-old with hoop dreams. But then one stormy night lightning and a pair of sneakers bearing the initials of the game's greatest — "MJ" — combine to make Calvin into a pint-sized giant of the game. Though "Like Mike's" riddled with orphan cliches, silly dialogue, numerous NBA cameos (but no Michael Jordan) and far too many boring subplots, Bow Wow's computer-enhanced, basketball prowess is great fun to watch. And only the cruelest of hearts won't melt when orphaned Bow Wow gets his fondest wish. **

"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 — a mature, edgier Spielberg, at that. Even those who 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.


"Importance of Being Earnest" — After his entertaining take on Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," Brit director Oliver Parker tackles Wilde's 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, delivering his lines in an odd mix of purr and mumble. More egregious, however, are Parker's attempts at "opening up" the scope and action of this clever classic. Even half-baked, this Wilde and woolly comedy remains a tasty treat for discerning moviegoers. ***

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