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"Spy Kids," "Someone Like You," "Tomcats," "The Caveman's Valentine," "The House of Mirth."

Quick Flicks

!B! "Spy Kids"!B! "Someone Like You"!B! "Tomcats"!B! "The Caveman's Valentine"!B! "The House of Mirth"

"Spy Kids" — Visually imaginative and always tongue-in-cheek, this futuristic kids' adventure asks which is more difficult: saving the world from maniacal bad guys or keeping a family together? Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino play former spies raising two kids (Alex Vega and Daryl Sabara), who know nothing of their parents' past. But then Mom and Dad are kidnapped by a TV kiddie show host (Alan Cumming) and his evil minion (Tony Shaloub). So it's siblings to the rescue. While the plot bogs down at times — and the action may be too scary for the 6-and-under set — "Spy Kids" remains one of the smartest movies for kids in ages.

"Someone Like You" — Although aimed at an older female audience, this likable though uninspired romance will find true favor among teen-age girls. Ashley Judd plays Jane, a TV talk-show producer who can't seem to find Mr. Right. Then she falls for co-worker Greg Kinnear, who's in a long-term relationship with someone else. When he goes back to gal-pal No. 1, Jane is heartbroken and moves in with another colleague, a serial womanizer named Eddie. Played by Aussie hunk Hugh Jackman from "The X-Men," Eddie tries to get Jane to snap out of her obsession with being dumped. Instead, Jane decides to write a column for a magazine that likens men's behavior to bulls. Eddie finally proves her wrong.

"Tomcats" — OK, even the dumbest of these gross-out-humor-filled sex romps are good for a few cheap laughs. But not this one. There is nothing remotely funny or entertaining about "Tomcats." Not the scene where a notorious womanizer is diagnosed with testicular cancer. Not the scene in which a mousy librarian turns into a whip-cracking dominatrix. Not the scene where one character's wife is caught in a compromising position with the maid. Trust me. This tale of a bet to stay bachelors isn't clever enough to be mindless entertainment. It's merely mindless.

"The Caveman's Valentine" — Samuel L. Jackson delivers one of the year's most compelling performances as a mentally ill homeless man. Keeping his delusions (which, by the way, are visually stunning) at bay, Jackson's character sets out to solve a murder. When Romulus Ledbetter (Jackson) finds a frozen corpse, he thinks he knows the perp. But it's difficult getting anyone to listen since he gets his information from a broken TV set when his thoughts aren't being controlled by "Y-rays" and "Z-rays." His own daughter (Aunjuane Ellis), who's a cop, doesn't believe him. Far-fetched but visually arresting, this latest from Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou") allows Jackson to show his considerable talent.

"The House of Mirth" — Based on Edith Wharton's subtle but satiric novel of manners, this Terrence Davies film peels away the thin veneer of civility that cloaked New York during the Gilded Age. On one level, it's a melodrama about the fall of socialite Lily Bart ("The X-Files's" Gillian Anderson). On another, it's a scathing indictment of the upper classes. Both collide in the appealing form of Anderson's Lily, a young woman of modest means who is searching for both happiness and a rich husband. Suffice it to say she finds neither. Visually rich but emotionally poor, "The House of Mirth" remains something to behold.

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