Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area.

click to enlarge The Medallion - CHAN KAM TSUEN
The Medallion

AMERICAN WEDDING (R) American Wedding brings us to the third and hopefully final chapter of the American Pie saga. In this installment, we find some of the original cast missing while those remaining are left with the task of planning a wedding for Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Amercian Wedding reaches new peaks of absurdity, but its rudimentary style works somehow. Despite the predictable slapstick and unoriginal story line, the movie is surprisingly entertaining. —Leilani Polk

AND NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMEN (PG-13) A jewel thief and a lounge singer, both with matching brain tumors, have some sort of mystically fateful encounter in Morocco while a variety of half-baked lounge songs gurgles away on the soundtrack, indirectly and directly commenting upon what we're seeing. The nuts and bolts of director Claude Lelouche's new film are just as wildly, impossibly romantic (and as shallow) as his best known movie, A Man and a Woman, but the whole thing's gussied up with someone's idea of what a cerebral, postmodern art film should be like. A director like Jacques Rivette might — might — have pulled off something this theatrical and self-reflexive, but in the hands of a lightweight like Lelouche, it all seems rather coy, pretentious and often simply ludicrous. Stars Jeremy Irons and Patricia Kaas. <

b>BAD BOYS II (R) Nothing more than the traditional buddy cops action-adventure, this predictable flick is full of gory, gratuitous violence set around the heart of Miami. In the midst of all the stylized stunts, co-stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence share several laugh-out-loud scenes that lighten the mood, but also digress from the boys' original purpose of taking down ecstasy traffickers in this two-and-a-half-hour sequel. Also stars Gabrielle Union. 1/2—Sharilyn Wiskup

BUGS! (PG) Overflowing with incredible microphotography, great 3-D effects and bug's-eye views galore, Bugs! is structured as a sort of day in the life of two of the critters for which it's titled. The movie personalizes its protagonists by giving them names, so we follow a benign little caterpillar named Pipilio and a not-so benign praying mantis named Hierodula as they creep along the jungles of Borneo, doing all the things that insects do. We get amazing, ultra-up-close-and-personal 3-D footage of bugs eating, mating, hunting, avoiding danger and exploring an exotic and often dangerous landscape. It's all beautifully shot, utilizing crisp, deep focus photography that really makes the 3-D effects pop. 1/2

CABIN FEVER (R) A workmanlike fusion of Evil Dead, Blair Witch Project, Deliverance and I Know What You Did Last Summer, this slackly paced, wildly over-hyped splatter flick feels long even at a scant 90 minutes. Cabin Fever plops a group of vacationing college kids in a backwoods cabin and marks them all for death (via a mysterious, skin-disintegrating infection). The movie then takes half its running time to do what 28 Days Later did in less than five minutes — get everybody contaminated and spewing blood. There are a few cheap but effective scares scattered throughout, but the level of filmmaking is generally pretty pedestrian and entirely unoriginal. Opens Sept 12 at local theaters.

CAMP (R) Todd Graff's breezy musical dramedy is about those ultimate outsiders — kids who would rather be belting out Broadway show tunes than buying halter tops at the mall or kicking around a soccer ball. These are kids with show biz in their blood — and where they go to strut their stuff is Camp Ovation, a summer retreat for the artistically inclined and gifted young misfit. The movie barely goes through the motions of pretending to be anything original, but, in its sweetly formulaic way, it still manages to be quite a bit of fun. Stars Daniel Letterle, Joanna Chilcoat, Robin De Jesus, Alana Allen and Don Dixon.

CORAL REEF ADVENTURE (G) Another quality IMAX production from the acclaimed team of MacGillivray Freeman (who seem to be able to do this IMAX thing in their sleep), Coral Reef Adventure is a fascinating and somewhat frightening look at an exotic and rapidly disappearing underwater world. Music by flag-waving hippie diehards Crosby, Stills and Nash brings home the environmental message concerning the destruction of the reefs (from a deadly combo of over-fishing and global warming), but the movie has its moments of fun as well. 1/2

DICKIE ROBERTS, FORMER CHILD STAR (PG-13) David Spade's latest features the former SNL comedian as a 35-year-old parking valet desperate to reclaim the celebrity he briefly enjoyed on a TV sitcom when he was 5. Also stars Mary McCormack and Jon Lovitz. (Not Reviewed)

DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (R) One of the happiest and most unexpected surprises I caught at last year's Toronto Film Festival was this delightfully quirky thriller set within London's diverse immigrant community. In its own small, singular way, director Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things has all the makings of a cult hit. The film features some great local color, an offbeat but steadily gripping plot involving black marketeers and organ-selling, a star turn by lead actor Chjwetel Ejiofor, and Amelie's Audrey Tautou as an illegal immigrant from Turkey, with a moustache. Also stars Sophie Okonedo. 1/2

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