A.I. (PG-13) A film directed by Steven Spielberg based on a long-gestating idea by Stanley Kubrick, A.I. is an odd and intriguing hybrid of a movie, combining elements that smack of both filmmakers but not really fully in either's camp. The story tells us of a little robot boy (Haley Joel Osment) who has troubles adjusting to the human world (and vice versa). Most of A.I.'s considerable running time amounts to a series of flashy but very tenuously connected sequences in which our small hero drifts from one exotic futuristic environment to the next, in a vaguely defined quest to find Pinocchio's mythical blue fairy, who he's certain will turn him into a real boy. Individual moments in the movie are striking, but A.I. doesn't really hold together, and it never comes to grips with what it really is — a tragedy of epic proportions. Spielberg just can't seem to let go of the desire to make us smile through our tears, and the movie ultimately becomes awkward and repetitious as it drags on, straining to find just the right series of upbeat notes in what is essentially a rather dour, discordant piece. The Pinocchio parallel is an obvious one (the toy who would be a boy), but Spielberg makes it into some half-baked boomer mantra and then beats us over the head with it for nearly two-and-a-half hours. Also stars Frances O'Connor, Jude Law and William Hurt.

The Animal (PG-13) Rob Schneider stars as Marvin Mange, a wannabe cop who develops animal urges after an experimental operation. Don't ask for details on the switch; there are none. But then again, this isn't the kind of movie where you really need scientific explanations. What you would hope for, though, is some better jokes.

—Dustin Dwyer

The Anniversary Party (NR) The Anniversary Party takes place during the course of a single night during a gathering of friends at the home of Joe and Sally Therrian (Alan Cummming and Jennifer Jason Leigh), an L.A. power couple who've recently reunited after a lengthy separation. Their fellow partiers are a cross-section of Hollywood's best, brightest and most, uh, colorful: actors, artists, writers, directors, musicians and money men, as well as their various spouses, pets and offspring. The movie gathers together a wonderful, sprawling cast and then allows them to play off one another in a variety of situations that, while almost certainly pre-structured, tend to project the sort of freshness and energy usually associated with improvised scenarios. Also stars Kevin Kline, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Adams.

Atlantis (PG) Disney's latest animated feature is a Jules Verne-ish looking adventure about a group of explorers who discover a civilization beneath the sea. Michael J. Fox, who seems to enjoy this sort of thing, supplies the hero's voice.

(Not Reviewed)

Baby Boy (R) Ten years after Boyz N the Hood, director John Singleton revisits his old South Central stomping grounds with less than satisfying results. Singleton's title character is Jody (Tyrese Gibson), a likable but aimless 20-year-old arrested adolescent with no job, commitment issues, two small children by different women, and who still lives at home sponging off his mama. It's part drama and part comedy, though not fully successful at either. Also starring Ving Rhames, Omar Gooding, A.J. Johnson and Snoop Dogg.

Bread and Roses (R) Legendary British director Ken Loach's first film set in America concerns a feisty young Mexican woman named Maya (Pilar Padilla) who gets a crappy job cleaning a downtown highrise and then becomes deeply involved in the struggle for rights and benefits for non-union janitors. One of our most political and socially conscious filmmakers, Loach compensates for his tendency towards didacticism by fleshing out his characters in all sorts of fascinating ways. The relationship that eventually reveals itself between Maya and her sister Rosa (Elpidia Carrillo) is particularly powerful and unexpected, and adds an interesting quality of moral ambiguity to Loach's message. The performances are a bit uneven, but some of the acting is genuinely remarkable and the film finally makes quite an impression. Also stars Adrien Brody and George Lopez. At Channelside Cinemas. Call theater to confirm.

Bridget Jones's Diary (R) An English everywoman in the limbo between youth and middle age, Bridget Jones is single (although not by choice), slightly overweight, smokes and drinks too much, doesn't get on that well with her nagging mum, and finds herself constantly falling for the wrong sort of man (like her sexy scoundrel of a boss, impeccably played by Hugh Grant), while soundly rejecting the ones who might just turn out to be Mr. Right.

Cats and Dogs (PG) More talking animals than you can shake a talking animal at. Stars Jeff Goldblum and a whole lot of digitally manipulated furballs.

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