The Movies

Culture | The top 5 videos in popularity as measured by rental receipts for the week ended Nov. 21

Issue: "Mid-term, mid-field pileup," Dec. 11, 1999
The Spy Who Shagged Me $8.04 million
1 week in release
$8.14 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Mike Myers, Heather Graham / Jay Roach / New Line Cinema
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language, sexual situations, violence, and crude and scatological humor
Plot Tacky, vulgar rehash of the 1997 spy spoofs sends the agent back to the '60s to fight Dr. Evil
Worldview Retro-rot sequel is much coarser than the original; how this survived with only a PG-13 is a mystery. Keep children far away from this
Big daddy $5.96 million
3 weeks in release
$25.76 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams / Dennis Dugan / Columbia Pictures
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language and crude humor
Plot A slacker decides to adopt a 5-year-old, who suddenly turns up on his doorstep, to win back his girlfriend
Worldview A childish dolt who can be a kid's good buddy is suitable enough to be a father
Notting Hill $3.28 million
2 weeks in release
$7.65 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Julia Roberts, Hugh Grant / Roger Michell / Universal Pictures
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language and sexual situations
Plot American movie star stumbles into a London bookshop and falls for the owner
Worldview Love conquers all; major celebrities aren't really interested in the trappings of fame and would love to settle down with a dashing shopkeeper
Instinct $2.87 million
1 week in release
$2.88 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr. / Jon Turteltaub / Touchstone Pictures
Content Rated R for violence and bad language
Plot A famous anthropologist comes back homicidal after studying gorillas in Africa
Worldview Reverse Darwinism: As man tries to control nature, he forgets that he can still make a monkey of himself
The Matrix $2.22 million
9 weeks in release
$41.10 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne / Andy and Larry Wachowski / Warner Bros.
Content Rated R for virtual-reality violence and bad language
Plot Computer hacker discovers that life is just a computer-generated simulation imposed on us by machines who breed, enslave, and consume us
Worldview "Reality" is a construction designed to imprison us. Once "the system" is overthrown, people can live free of rules and power games
In the Spotlight
The toys are back in town. Woody and Buzz Lightyear have returned in Toy Story 2 (Pixar; rated G), an uncommon sequel that can keep pace with the original. Like the old Raggedy Ann dolls, these playthings live in their own world never seen by humans. Kids will enjoy the computer-generated adventures and parents will dig the in-jokes. This time around, Woody (Tom Hanks) is kidnapped by an evil toy store owner, who finds him a rare collector's item and wants to sell him to a museum in Japan. The cowboy discovers he was a big deal on TV back in the '50s before Sputnik was launched and kids stopped playing Western. He learns about his past and meets his old sidekick Cowgirl Jessie (Joan Cusack), his horse Bullseye, and his old nemesis Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer). As Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and other toys come to the rescue, Woody's companions try to get him to go with them to Japan to live behind a glass case. In the end, this Toy Story's message is that toys should be with children, not profiteers. This movie gives a well-deserved jab to those who believe that toys only exist to be locked away like stock certificates. It also (amazingly) tips its hat to 1950s pop culture without taking pot shots. Considering that so many kids' movies of the last year have been bad (the obnoxious Babe sequel, the revisionist animated King and I, and the feeble Pokémon), this is a great improvement.

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