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"Where The Heart Is," "Frequency," "Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas," and "U-571"

Quick Flicks

!B! "Where The Heart Is"
!B! "Frequency"
!B! "Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas"
!B! "U-571"

"Where The Heart Is" — If you like your Southern Gothic melodramas served with a heavy dollop of working-class, self-deprecating humor, don't let this one get away. Adapted from the Oprah-endorsed, best-seller by Billie Letts, this tale of unwed teen Novalee Nation (Natalie Portman) and her spunky, heartfelt rise above her genetic and socioeconomic roots would be hard to take were it not for the likable cast.

Ashley Judd shows up as the nurse who befriends our Wal-Mart-loving heroine; Stockard Channing is the eccentric Welcome Wagon woman who takes her in; and, Joan Cusack plays a tough-as-nails Nashville agent who enlivens the uninspired sub-plot concerning the father of Novalee's baby.

It wants to be another "Fried Green Tomatoes," but there's nothing fresh about the script at the heart of this movie.

"Frequency" — I liked this film's premise: Through the miracle of extraordinary solar activity a thirtysomething son finds himself talking via a ham radio to his long-dead father. And after giving his firefighter father information that saves his life, the two find that changing that one bit of history sets in motion a terrible change in events. Now the two must work together to stop a serial killer who goes after someone they both love.

Dennis Quaid is charming and effective as the father reunited with his son. Jim Caviezel is equally believable as a man who dearly misses his father. After a slow start, the movie starts crackling with tension and some edge-of-your-seat scenes. Directed by "Primal Fear's" Gregory Hoblit, "Frequency's" plot takes plenty of twists and turns. But many may find them too hard to follow, while others will be disappointed by the pat ending. Instead of being a top-notch thriller, it's a movie with top-notch moments.

"Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas" — I'm thinking it's never a good sign when Stephen Baldwin is the best thing about a movie. But such is the case with this prehistoric prequel which attempts to answer those burning Baby Boomer questions — how did a numskull like Fred ever win a babe like Wilma? And how did the vertically challenged Barney ever earn Betty's undying love?

Lighter on its feet than the first live-action "Flintstones" movie, the PG-rated "Viva Rock Vegas" is still a stultifying sit for anyone who's moved beyond Cro-Magnon brain development. The over-8 and under-12 set will find some of the gadgets and baby Dino cute, but that's about it.

"U-571" — Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton and Harvey Keitel star in this exciting, old-fashioned WWII adventure. Director Jonathan Mostow keeps the action and Adrenaline pumping as his band of courageous American heroes pretend to be a German U-boat crew on a rescue mission.

What they're really after is the Nazis' infamous Enigma coder aboard an ailing German vessel. But can they get the decoder before the German crew has a chance to alert Berlin?

Atmosphere is king here. Between the close-quarters style warfare and those depth charges exploding all around you, there's no time to care about the shallowness of its red, white and true-blue plotline. Submarine movies are inherently cool.

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