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quick flicks

Signs, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Master of Disguise, Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat

He and brother Joaquin Phoenix think it's a prank, until similar crop circles start appearing all over the world. As mysterious occurrences start mounting up, single-dad Mel finds it tough to comfort his two young children (Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin). As with Shyamalan's other protagonists, Gibson's character has more than aliens or dead people to confront; he has his own secret demons and psychic wounds to face. Though not the blockbuster shocker of "The Sixth Sense," "Signs" is a beautifully crafted, well-acted thriller where the director understands that the less you show, the better. ***

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" — A delectable, sugary confection that melts in the harsh light of reality, but while you're watching it, "My BFG Wedding" is a cinematic treat. Based on her one-woman, autobiographical stage show, Nia Vardalos plays Toula, a slightly frumpy 30-year-old who waits tables at her parents' Chicago restaurant. While Toulas' extended family bemoans her apparent "spinsterhood," she undergoes a makeover and takes a more glamorous job at her aunt's travel agency. Which is where she meets and falls for high-school teacher Ian ("Sex & The City's" John Corbett). But — Gasp! — he's not only NOT Greek, he's also a vegetarian. That's about the extent of the plot, but you won't mind. The love affair is so cute, Ian's proposal so adorable and the ethnic humor so gentle and funny. Hey! Love happens! ****

"Master of Disguise" — Trust me, this unbearably tedious and unfunny flick should only be shown to those convicted of the most heinous crimes. A brief but punishing 80 minutes long, this drek does more harm than good for its talented star. Now I'm a big fan of "Saturday Night Live" alum Dana Carvey, but his talent just doesn't translate to the big screen for some reason. Although this exercise in lameness shouldn't be blamed on Carvey, after all, he takes on 36 different characters and 14 languages. Primarily, he plays Pistachio Disguisey, the slow-witted son of the last in a long line of "masters of disguise." When his parents are kidnapped by an evil mastermind, Pistachio's grandfather (Harold Gould) turns up to help him rescue his family. Save your own family — avoid this one like the plague.

"Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat" — It's been eight years since Martin Lawrence's first stand-up comedy film, "You So Crazy." While a few things have changed for the gifted funnyman, the good news is that he's still bawdy after all these years. Brimming with profanity and sexual innuendo, this latest effort returns Lawrence to his comic roots and it's obvious he's in his element. Using his endless arsenal of vocal and facial expressions, Lawrence fills 100 minutes with some of his favorite topics: sex, child-rearing, sex, marriage, sex, funny white folks, sex and funny black people. Oh, and did I mention sex? Obviously not for the easily offended. ****

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