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quick flicks

"Showtime" — A true testament to star power, this dumb, lackluster and incoherent effort is rendered magically entertaining only by the personal wattage of Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy. Unsure if it wants to spoof the cop/buddy genre like "Lethal Weapon" or skewer America's current appetite for reality-television, the movie soon runs out of satirical steam, leaving us with an uninspired action flick.

De Niro is the gruff, no-nonsense police officer tapped to be the star (though quite reluctant) of a reality cop show. Murphy is a loudmouthed patrolman who wants to jump-start an acting career. The usual hijinks ensue to the chagrin of the faux show's director, William Shatner, and its producer, Rene Russo.

"Resident Evil" — First came the big-screen version of "Mortal Kombat," now director Paul Anderson tackles the equally popular "Resident Evil." Of course, if one has no prior knowledge of the game, the numerous reference points (including such popular characters as Zombie Dog and Licker) or the game's setting (a mansion- turned-laboratory called the "Hive") will make little sense. There's an experimental virus running amok, a supercomputer running awry and Milla Jovovich running around as a feisty amnesiac. The movie looks and plays like a $40 million version of a game that's more enjoyable on your computer.

"Iris" — Funny, sad, and moving, this unsentimental look at freethinking novelist Iris Murdoch and her ardent admirer/husband, John Bayley, is never less than engrossing. Director Peter Eyre moves seamlessly between '50s-era Oxford (where the two meet) and the late '90s cottage-comfy (where Alzheimer's is stealing the best and brightest of Iris). Much of the credit belongs to the incredible tandem tour de force performances from Kate Winslett and Judi Dench as the young and aging Iris; and Hugh Bonneville and Jim Broadbent as Bayley, the young and elder. For those who find Iris tough to embrace, in spite of Dench's achingly authentic portrayal, Broadbent's equally moving turn as her protector, acolyte and frustrated husband offers a touching view of the horror of Alzheimer's dimming effects.

"Ice Age" — Cute. That's the perfect word for this digital dip into the prehistoric gene pool by Oscar-winning animator Chris Wedge. Neither sly like "Shrek" nor emotionally resonant like the "Toy Story" movies, it's just cute. And pleasant. Adults may find "Ice Age" slow-going, but the younger set will find it all perfectly entertaining. (Though a mild caution about the PG rating, some of the "mild" peril is pretty scary stuff for preschoolers — namely a saber-toothed tiger who wants to eat a baby.) A buddy movie in woolly mammoth clothing, the story centers on a ragtag group of prehistoric critters who find a human infant and set out on a journey to return him to his family. Ray Roman voices the mammoth Manfred; John Leguizamo is Sid the sloth; and Dennis Leary, the aforementioned saber-toothed tiger Diego.

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