The Movies

Culture | The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts from 10/8/99 to 10/10/99

Issue: "The harvest of abortion," Oct. 23, 1999
Double Jeopardy $13.6 million
3 weeks in release
$65.8 million to date
Cast Ashley Judd, Tommy Lee Jones
Director Bruce Beresford
Studio Paramount Pictures
Content Rated R for bad language, violence, and sexual situations
Plot Innocent woman convicted of murdering her jerk husband discovers hubby isn't dead
Gist Revenge is mine! Since she already did jail time for "killing" her husband, she decides she can hunt him down with impunity
Worldview True grit can eventually bring satisfying results
Random Hearts $13.1 million
1 week in release
$13.1 million to date
Cast Harrison Ford, Kristin Scott Thomas
Director Sydney Pollack
Studio Columbia Pictures
Content Rated R for bad language, violence, and sexual situations
Plot Grief and romance collide for a cop and a liberal Republican congresswoman when their cheating spouses die in a plane crash
Gist Critics scorned this character study for being too long, too dull, and too melodramatic
Worldview No man knows his time; one's secret plans may be revealed in unusual ways
Three Kings $11.7 million
2 weeks in release
$32.4 million to date
Cast George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg
Director David O. Russell
Studio Warner Bros.
Content Rated R for bad language, violence, gore, and sexual situations
Plot Gulf War combat movie about American soldiers on a treasure hunt for stolen Kuwaiti gold
Gist Movie criticizes Bush policies, won rare praise from Arab-American groups for showing Muslims as something other than terrorist kooks
Worldview Humanitarianism; the soldiers discover the plight of Kurdish refugees and decide to aid them
American Beauty $9.2 million
4 weeks in release
$30.8 million to date
Cast Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening
Director Sam Mendes
Studio Dreamworks SKG
Content Rated R for bad language, nudity, sexual situations, drug use, and violence
Plot Ensemble drama featuring a middle-class dad who chases after a high-school cheerleader
Gist A rootless, shallow family heads down the road to destruction then steps on the gas
Worldview Suburbia as existential nightmare; seemingly normal people live lives of quiet desperation
Superstar $9 million
1 week in release
$9 million to date
Cast Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell
Director Bruce McCulloch
Studio Paramount Pictures
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language and sexual innuendo; contains dreadfully blasphemous bits with a hippie God character who gives pep talks
Plot High-school nerd wants to be a star so everyone will love her and some boy will kiss her
Gist Another unpleasant Saturday Night Live rehash
Worldview The usual live-your-dreams mentality, mixed with the boilerplate notion that high school is one big series of social power plays

In the Spotlight
Since The Blues Brothers, Saturday Night Live characters have popped up in their own movies. Superstar, about a 17-year-old nerd who will do anything for celebrity, is the latest. Mary Katherine Gallagher (Molly Shannon) wants to be a star so everyone will love her and she can win the heart of football heartthrob Sky (Will Ferrell) and defeat her rival, a blonde cheerleader named Evian (Elaine Hendrix, whose character's bottled-water brand name is the one good joke in the movie). The heroine works in a video store as the "rewind girl" and watches tapes to help her raise her popularity. But she watches 25-year-old waste like Carrie, Sybil, and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, prompting her to recite dialogue from these forgotten 1970s melodramas. Mary Katherine's plight promotes the standard teen-movie worldview that high school is just a series of social power plays. But Superstar's biggest problem is its tasteless religious running gags. Mary Katherine dreams of "God" (also Ferrell), who shows up and dances around the room to the song "Spirit in the Sky," then pops up throughout the movie. Most of the movie takes place in a Catholic school, which means the usual bad jokes are here about confessionals, priests obsessed with sex, and the like. Another scene features a catfight where Evian whacks Mary Katherine upside the head with a large Bible. Enough already.

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