Reviews > Movies

The Movies

Movies

Issue: "One president, under God," Feb. 3, 2001
1
Save the last dance $27.5 million
1 week in release
$27.5 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Julia Stiles, Sean Patrick Thomas / Thomas Carter (Metro) / Paramount

PLOT
After her mother's death, an aspiring ballerina moves from a small town to Chicago, where she attends a mostly black high school.

MESSAGE
Predictable but above-average drama encourages teens to follow dreams.

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CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, language, and brief drug references.

2
Cast Away $19.8 million
4 weeks in release
$167.8 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt / Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump) / Twentieth Century Fox

PLOT
A plane crash survivor learns how to stay alive when he's stranded on a remote island.

MESSAGE
Rated PG-13 for intense action sequences and some disturbing images.

CAUTION
Ocean and island scenes are cinematically majestic but spiritually empty.

3
Traffic $13.4 million
3 weeks in release
$35.3 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro / Steven Soderbergh (Erin Brokovich) / USA Films

PLOT
Three interwoven stories each chronicle a different aspect of the U.S. government's war on drugs.

MESSAGE
Rated R for pervasive drug content, strong language, violence, and sexuality.

CAUTION
Harsh but honest treatment of the U.S. drug war.

4
Double Take $11.7 million
1 week in release
$11.7 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Orlando Jones, Eddie Griffin / George Gallo (Trapped in Paradise) / Buena Vista

PLOT
Implicated in a drug scam, a successful black banker pairs up with a street-wise hustler to clear his name.

MESSAGE
Rated PG-13 for violence and language.

CAUTION
Typically crude comedy makes its stars work hard for the movie's few laughs.

5
What Women Want $11.6 million
5 weeks in release
$153.6 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt / Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap) / Paramount

PLOT
An "unusual" bathroom accident allows a man to hear women's thoughts, teaching him lessons about his own and the opposite sex.

MESSAGE
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.

CAUTION
Stars make ridiculous plot watchable; movie says much but explains little about how the sexes interact.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Director Steven Soderbergh began 2000 with the highly successful Julia Roberts vehicle Erin Brokovich. He ended the year with the release of his less sunny but widely praised film Traffic, a harrowing epic chronicling the U.S. government's less-than-successful war on drugs. The film's strong language, violence, and brief sexuality earn it a well-deserved R rating, but Mr. Soderbergh uses such content to depict the reality of the drug trade and show that there is nothing glamorous about it-on either side of the law. Three stories, loosely connected, get roughly equal screen time. Michael Douglas plays an Ohio judge who is appointed as the president's "drug czar" but finds that the drug problem touches much closer to home. Benicio del Toro, who is outstanding in an outstanding cast, convincingly portrays a Mexican cop who attempts to avoid the corruption rampant among law enforcement in his country. The third story focuses on Catherine Zeta-Jones, who takes over the family business after police arrest her drug-dealing husband. Mr. Soderbergh exposes some of the problems inherent in stopping the flow and distribution of drugs in the United States, but he avoids heavy-handed political statements and has the courtesy to leave the viewer with a few rays of hope in this otherwise bleak picture.

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