Culture

The Movies

Culture | The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts from Mar. 24 to Mar. 26

Issue: "Dr. Laura: Taking static," April 8, 2000
Erin Brockovich $19 million
2 weeks in release
$56.3 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Julia Roberts, Albert Finney / Steven Soderbergh (Out of Sight) / Universal Pictures

PLOT
Title heroine fights evil utility company because it is poisoning the water supply.

MESSAGE
Big corporations care about nothing but money and don't care if they hurt innocent people.

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CAUTION
Rated R for bad language.

Romeo must die $18.6 million
1 week in release
$25.1 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Jet Li, Aaliyah / Andrzej Bartkowiak / Warner Brothers

PLOT
Martial-arts movie about a Chinese immigrant caught in the middle of an American gang war.

MESSAGE
Gang members are evil, rotten thugs who should be beaten to a pulp.

CAUTION
Rated R for violence, bad language, and nudity.

Final destination $7.1 million
2 weeks in release
$20.3 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Devon Sawa, Ali Larter / James Wong / New Line Cinema

PLOT
Teenager has vision of a plane crash, so he tells his friend not to board a flight. They are saved from disaster, but get wiped out in typical horror- movie fashion.

MESSAGE
Fatalism: Even if you miss one tragedy, the next one will get you.

CAUTION
Rated R for violence, gore, and bad language.

Mission to Mars $5.8 million
3 weeks in release
$49.3 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins / Brian De Palma (Mission Impossible) / Touchstone Pictures

PLOT
Astronauts try to find out why the first manned landing on Mars ended in disaster after an encounter with a mysterious face on the planet's surface.

MESSAGE
We're not just descended from apes. We're descended from Martians.

CAUTION
Rated PG for sci-fi action and bad language.

Here on Earth $4.6 million
1 week in release
$4.6 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Chris Klein, Leelee Sobieski / Mark Piznarski (The 60s) / 20th Century Fox

PLOT
Tearjerker teenage soap opera surrounding a young girl dying of cancer.

MESSAGE
Life is an unfolding pattern of crises on top of crises.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for sexual situations.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Your new girlfriend's heart was transplanted from your dead wife's body. Now there's something that doesn't happen everyday! This morbid situation faces David Duchovny's character in the romance Return to Me (MGM, rated PG for bad language), with Minnie Driver as the other half of this twist of fate. Every scene is telegraphed from miles away, but good acting holds this picture up. The wife (Joely Richardson) appears early on before being dispatched in an offscreen accident. To give her a patina of wonderfulness, she worked as a gorilla trainer devoted to the dubious task of teaching primates sign language. Her death gives life to the Driver character, who is now free to date for the first time after years of illness. In the background is her grandfather (Carroll O'Connor) and his three buddies who play poker and crack jokes as sort of a Greek chorus. If you can stomach the morose plot point, this plays in the When Harry Met Sally/Sleepless In Seattle/You've Got Mail tradition. Those looking for a romantic thrill will find this a cute diversion, but others may safely stay away. Sure, life goes on after someone dies, but this is a little much.

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