New Releases

BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (R) A long, strange, trip down the memory lane of 1970s Ireland, Breakfast on Pluto is director Neil Jordan's delightfully curious ode to his homeland, and to the joys of growing up weird in a place that has no use for outsiders. This is a distinctly bittersweet tale told with a snap and a zany lilt, an allegory of sorts starring a spunky, cross-dressing Irish orphan named Patrick — later self-christened Kitten (Cillian Murphy). Breakfast on Pluto is a virtual tour, albeit a gleefully deranged one, through Irish culture, history and politics of the 1970s, as Kitten makes his/her way through the world, hooking up with glam bands, armed revolutionaries, hookers, magicians and sadists. Also stars Ruth Negga, Stephen Rea, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson. Playing one night only, Wed., April 19, at Baywalk 20 in St. Petersburg as part of the Gay Lesbian Film Festival Series. 4.5 stars

SCARY MOVIE 4 (PG-13) Another round of random spoofing, David Zucker style, of the latest batch of horror flicks — Saw, The Grudge, The Village, and so on — with much hilarity involving bodily functions and obligatory doses of T & A no doubt abounding. Stars Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Criag Bierko, Carmen Electra and Andre Benjamin. Opens April 14 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

THE WILD (PG) Disney's refusal to screen this in time for critics' deadlines isn't exactly a good sign, but how bad could it be? Expensive, state-of-the-art computer animation, goofy talking animals, celebrity voice talent and some sort of Madagascar-esque shenanigans about urban zoo critters adjusting to life in the great outdoors — at the very least, it sounds right up the alleys of the film's target 10-and-under audience. Features the voices of Kiefer Sutherland, Janeane Garofalo, James Belushi, Eddie Izzard and William Shatner. Opens April 14 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)


16 BLOCKS (PG-13) Bruce Willis plays a cynical NYPD vet with a bum leg, a drinking problem and a hairline that's receded back beyond the outer rings of Saturn. Mos Def's character, Eddie, is a somewhat simple-minded guy whose disposition is every bit as sunny as Willis' is terminally sour. Naturally, the two wind up on the run together, learning valuable life lessons from one another as they try to avoid legions of dirty cops trying to keep Eddie from testifying against one of their ranks. Willis isn't acting so much as retreading a slightly older, gloomier version of his stock type, and his performance is mainly defined by an ability to appear paunchy and shriveled simultaneously. Def affects a nasal, nerdy persona that makes us occasionally feel like we're watching Forrest Gump stuck in a Bruce Willis shoot-'em-up. Both actors remain curiously watchable, though — that's the eternal mystery of star power for you, folks — and even when the movie tests our patience with leaps in logic and lack of originality, 16 Blocks works fairly well as a tautly crafted feature-length chase, with just enough human drama to ground things in the end. Also stars David Morse, Conrad Pla and Cylk Cozart. 2.5 stars

BASIC INSTINCT 2 (R) Sharon Stone reprises her role as sexed-up seductress Catherine Tramell, an icy, egomaniacal blonde who takes erotic pleasure in manipulating men, and who also may or may not be a serial killer. This time out, Tramell has relocated to London, where she finds herself again under suspicion when everyone around her starts turning up dead. None of it makes much sense, the movie tosses around red herrings like rice at a wedding, and Stone's character passes the time by making lewd comments and playing head games with a handsome young psychiatrist (David Morrisey). Despite the classy English accents, BI2 is an even dopier outing than the original, with Stone's character drained of any vestiges of mystery or nuance. Desperately wanting to be lurid, the movie puts all sorts of outrageous come-ons in Stone's mouth and spends a lot of time prowling around the contours of the actress's body, but it all feels pretty lame. Surgical enhancements aside, Stone is just too long in the tooth to pull off this sex goddess thing, and the film's attempts at generating an erotic charge feel gutless and way too calculated to work either as cheap thrills or even as camp. Also stars David Thewlis and Charlotte Rampling. 1.5 stars

BENCHWARMERS (PG-13) You know you're in trouble when Rob Schneider turns out to be the straight man in the movie you're watching. And that's only the beginning of the problems with Benchwarmers. Adam Sandler was the "brains" behind this project, donning a producer's cap and convincing several of his old SNL buddies to crawl out from under their respective rocks and come together for a predictable fusion of Revenge of the Nerds, Bad News Bears and every movie made over the past few decades featuring one or more former SNL players. The story involves geeky grown-ups Schneider, David Spade (sporting a really dumb Beatles do) and Jon Heder (basically reprising his Napoleon Dynamite shtick) clobbering teams of small children in baseball (although the kids are supposedly bullies, so there's a message here, sorta). Jon Lovitz gets in a few funny bits as the team's billionaire patron, but the bulk of the movie amounts to a string of fart jokes, gay jokes, booger-eating and product placements for Pizza Hut. The movie is mainly notable for a raunch factor that renders its PG-13 rating very nearly meaningless and what well may be the worst closing credit outtakes ever. Also stars Craig Kilborn, Tim Meadows (looking even more superfluous than he did on SNL) and Molly Sims. 2 stars

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