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quick flicks

Insomnia, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones", About A Boy, Spider-Man


"Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones" — This second chapter in George Lucas' prequel trilogy has more heart and humor than "The Phantom Menace," but that's still not saying much. Far too long, too talky and too sappy (especially the uninspired budding romance scenes between the future parents of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia), "Episode II" also takes itself far too seriously. Yo, Lucas! Lighten up! As we advance toward the Star Wars trilogy most moviegoers revere, it seems the Republic faces a separatist threat, Amidala (Natalie Portman) has become a senator, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), now a Jedi-in-training, loves her but is tempted to disobey Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor), who discovers a secret cloned army. The final 40 minutes however, where we see just why Yoda is the man, are great fun.

"About A Boy" — "American Pie" creators Paul & Chris Weitz make a stunning career move, giving us a comedy sporting not only genuine character development, but Hugh Grant and a moral to boot. Grant plays Will Freeman, a late-30s, unattached Londoner who's never had a job or been in a relationship that's lasted more than a few months. Will is so dedicated in his pursuit of getting laid, he's turned it into an art form, with his preferred medium being single moms. As we watch Will's macho machinations, we are also introduced to Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), a 12-year-old nerdy preteen who's still walked to school by his mom (Toni Collette). Although Marcus blackmails Will into spending time with him, the two soon discover that they both want and need somebody to care. Though the dialogue rarely sends off sparks, and some of the British pop-culture references will fly by most American audiences, the movie hums along amiably. Agreeable and breezy, and definitely character-driven, "About a Boy" offers a cinema rarity — a truly platonic love story.

"Spider-Man" — Move over George Lucas, the new summer movie-muscle at the box office belongs to Sam Raimi, who fearlessly directs this latest big-screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero. Mixing mainstream tastes with above-average wit, Raimi's "Spider-Man" is fantastical fun. But Raimi's visual storytelling prowess would be for naught without actor Tobey Maguire. As geeky Peter Parker/ Spider-Man, Maguire and his trademark soulful expression are perfect for the role. And who could ask for a better girl-next-door to pine away for than Kirsten Dunst? Or a more over-the-top villain than Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin? Firmly rooted in comic-book sensibility and fantasy, Raimi's "Spider-Man" is no itsy-bitsy movie: It's a blockbuster.

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