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quick flicks

Blue Crush, Adventures of Pluto Nash, Tadpole

Along the way, she falls for a caring, kindhearted pro-football quarterback (Matthew Davis). But, thankfully, the inside-the-pipeline cinematography is so spectacular, one can almost overlook the insipid, predictable love story. ***

"The Adventures of Pluto Nash" — Although it's been on the shelf for nearly two years, this Eddie Murphy sci-fi comedy has not improved with age. Set on the moon in the year 2087, this futuristic remake of "Casablanca" stars Murphy as nightclub owner Pluto Nash. Randy Quaid is his loyal but dim robotic bodyguard; Rosario Dawson, the damsel in distress. It doesn't take long, however, for audience members to figure out they're the ones in genuine distress. The plot — someone wants to drive Nash out of business — is hackneyed; the jokes tired and lifeless; and though Murphy gets off a few of his trademark looks, the actor seems hopelessly out of his element. If you just can't make yourself walk out of "Pluto Nash," try counting all the terrific supporting actors whose talents are being wasted in addition to Murphy's. *

"Tadpole" — What teenage boy wouldn't want Sigourney Weaver for a stepmom? That's the inescapable truth tormenting 15-year-old Oscar (Aaron Stanford) in Gary Winick's lightweight but charming coming-of-age tale. As Eve, the object of Oscar's fevered, pubescent dreams, she's elegant and enchanting, always ready with a warm smile or the time to listen. But before his crush pushes him beyond their current stepmom/stepson roles, he becomes ensnared by Eve's best friend, Diane (Bebe Newirth). Which, of course, makes life at home more than a wee bit tricky. Tripping lightly down the plot path of "The Graduate" and the more recent "Rushmore," Winick and company keep the goings-on so cheery and warmly sympathetic, the plot's potentially controversial content glides by with ease. Pacing the movie as if it were a door-slamming French farce, Winick keeps all the plates twirling long enough to mesmerize us, if only briefly. hhh

"The Fast Runner" — Years in the making, this feature film debut of Zacharias Kunuk moves at a painfully deliberate pace. But by the time Kunuk settles into telling the 4,000-year-old Inuit folk tale, you'll be hooked. Set in an unspecified time far in the past, "The Fast Runner" is a tribal story of love and revenge, the raw emotions that emerge from a doomed love triangle. Shot on location in the Canadian Arctic community of Igloolik, using native, nonprofessional actors, Kunuk and cinematographer Norman Cohn deftly pull off turning a dismal, frozen landscape into a background befitting such a compelling, epic struggle between good and evil. "The Fast Runner" remains the most unusual film I've seen this year.

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