Video Rentals

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

Issue: "On Earth Peace?," Dec. 25, 1999
Wild Wild West $6.77 million
1 week in release
$6.89 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Will Smith, Kevin Kline / Barry Sonnefeld / Warner Bros.
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language, violence, and nudity
Plot This update of the old Robert Conrad TV show features a Secret Serviceman battling a mad scientist with a giant mechanical tarantula
Worldview Escapism that melds sci-fi and Western in a world where wisecracking hipsters always win
Entrapment $4.26 million
2 weeks in release
$9.95 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Sean Connery, Catharine Zeta-Jones / Jon Amiel / Fox
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language and sexual situations
Plot Two cat burglars flirt, romp around the world stealing art, and plan a Y2K bank heist
Worldview Beautiful people are Nietzschean supermen who stand beyond morality and can commit perfect crimes because of their natural superiority
The Spy Who Shagged Me $3.38 million
3 weeks in release
$18.92 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 spoof 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 it
Big daddy $3.18 million
5 weeks in release
$35.59 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 To win back his girlfriend, a slacker decides to adopt a 5-year-old, who suddenly turns up on his doorstep
Worldview A childish dolt who can be a kid's good buddy is suitable enough to be a father
The Haunting $2.78 million
2 weeks in release
$6.37 million to date
Cast / Director / Studio Lili Taylor, Liam Neeson / Jan de Bont / Dreamworks SKG
Content Rated PG-13 for bad language and violence
Plot Remake of 1963 drive-in horror about a trio of unsuspecting volunteers getting spooked in a haunted house
Worldview Old fashioned goth: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean something's not out to get you
In the Spotlight
Most remakes don't live up to their originals, but Anna and the King (Fox; rated PG-13 for violence), now in theaters, finds new territory in the story most know as The King & I musical. Done as epic drama instead of Rogers & Hammerstein-driven melodrama, it paints the story of the relationship between British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens (Jodie Foster) and King Mongkut of Siam in a more realistic light. This time Anna and King are combatants who are evenly matched. The Siamese monarch comes out of the realm of self-parody and becomes a believable character, largely thanks to the strong performance by Chow Yun-Fat, Asia's answer to Clint Eastwood. This movie bends over backwards to be faithful to Thai culture, though its appreciation of Buddhism stops short of the tacky cartoon version from earlier this year (see WORLD, April 3, 1999). Shot in Malaysia with enormous sets and 19 elephants among the cast, this film is far earthier and more heartrending than its predecessors. King Mongkut is caught between the traditions of his homeland and the sweeping changes brought by the British Empire. In making him more human than the campy Yul Brynner and Rex Harrison renditions, he becomes hard to swallow. While Mongkut opened the door to Western learning-including Anna-he also ran Siam as an iron-handed religious autocrat. Anna is so well made that it hides its own implausibility.

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