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"Urban Legends: The Final Cut," "Almost Famous," "The Exorcist" and "Waking the Dead"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Urban Legends: The Final Cut"!B! "Almost Famous"!B! "The Exorcist"

Now on Video:!B! "Waking the Dead"

"Urban Legends: The Final Cut" — OK, you know you're in trouble when the movie's selling point touts its origins as "from one of the producers of 'I Know What You Did Last Summer.'" Second clue? The biggest name in the cast is former TV-sitcom precocious kid Joey Lawrence. Sorry, my bad — he now prefers to be called Joseph.

Purporting to be the sequel to the similarly titled 1998 modest slasher hit, "Urban Legends," this second dose is really an unabashed rip-off of "Freddie's New Nightmare," "Scream 3," and I do believe, an episode or two of "Murder She Wrote," "Diagnosis Murder" and even "Charlie's Angels."

Yes, someone is stalking and killing folks on a movie set. This time he wears a parka and fencing mask, and his targets are film-class students working on their senior thesis.

Several cuts below its predecessors, "UL: The Final Cut" should have been called "The Final Insult." One can only hope the filmmakers are sincere about final.

"Almost Famous" — Witty and wry, this love letter to the '70s shines with everything we've come to expect from writer-director Cameron ("Say Anything," "Jerry Maguire") Crowe: great characters, great dialogue, great music. Based loosely on Crowe's own teen years, "Almost Famous" introduces us to fresh-faced, impressionable William Miller (Patrick Fugit) and his incredible gig for "Rolling Stone" magazine — following up-and-coming band Stillwater on their 1973 tour. During the course of that adventure, William comes of age.

Billy Crudrup is great as the band's flamboyant lead guitarist; Jason Lee does an equally terrific job as the band's lead singer. But the movie belongs to two women: the incomparable Frances McDormand as William's mom and Kate Hudson as lead groupie, Penny Lane.

"The Exorcist" — This movie scared the heck out of me way back in 1973; and it still gave me the creeps when it hit video back in 1980. Now it's back on the big screen, with digitally remastered sound and an additional 11 minutes. But you know what? Those extra minutes actually do moviegoers a disservice. The expanded opening scene in Iraq and the lengthier hokey ending add little to the scares fans crave. Even the previously excised scene with Regan walking down stairs spider-fashion makes only a minor impression since it's included on the 25th anniversary DVD version. But in spite of the dated special effects, the extra scenes and knowing what happens next, "The Exorcist" remains a delightful fright.

"Waking the Dead" — This odd drama mixes politics with romance. Billy Crudrup of "Almost Famous" stars here with Jennifer Connelly as sweethearts with drastically differing opinions on everything. When Connelly turns up missing on a humanitarian mission, Crudrup eventually reconciles himself to life without her. But 10 years later, in the campaign of his life, he starts sensing she's not dead. He even sees her. Is she real? Or is her presence a reminder of the man he wanted to be? Though it is deeply flawed, "Waking The Dead" offers intelligent viewers an entertaining rental.


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