Culture

Video Rentals

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

Issue: "Walking the tightrope," Feb. 10, 2001
1
Me, Myself, and Irene $9.75 million 2 weeks in release $20.86 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Jim Carrey, Renée Zellweger / Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly (There's Something About Mary) / 20th Century Fox

PLOT
A highway patrol officer develops multiple personalities, each of which falls in love with the same girl and fights to win her heart.

MESSAGE
Comedy pushes the boundaries of taste and decency in the context of a good-natured story.

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CAUTION
Rated R for sexual content, crude humor, strong language, and some violence.

2
Coyote Ugly $7.59 million 1 week in release $7.59 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Piper Perabo, Maria Bello, Adam Garcia / David McNally / Buena Vista

PLOT
A small-town New Jersey girl moves to New York City to make it as a songwriter, and ends up working at a bar owned and operated by very independent women.

MESSAGE
An oft-told story that seeks originality through the addition of '90s feminist sensibilities, with an emphasis on sensuality.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for sensuality.

3
Hollow man $6.37 million 3 weeks in release $24.48 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue / Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers) / Columbia Pictures

PLOT
Government-funded scientists discover the secret to making people invisible, with disastrous results.

MESSAGE
Interesting themes of private morality (i.e., what you do when no one can see you) are buried under exploitive sex and violence and a shoddy plot.

CAUTION
Rated R for strong violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity.

4
Autumn in New York $3.98 million 3 weeks in release $14.36 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Richard Gere, Winona Ryder / Joan Chen (Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl) / MGM

PLOT
Gere plays a notorious womanizer who is taught to love by Ryder, a girl less than half his age who has a terminal heart condition.

MESSAGE
A contrived, manipulative story that falls completely flat, with its attractive New York locations one of few redeeming qualities.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for language and some sensuality.

5
Battlefield Earth $3.57 million 1 week in release $3.57 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
John Travolta, Barry Pepper / Roger Christian (Masterminds) / Warner Brothers

PLOT
An adaptation of L. Ron Hubbard's science fiction novel about primitive men revolting against alien rulers in the distant future.

MESSAGE
An unqualified mess; although appropriately given a PG-13 rating, there's nothing remotely "intense" about this lifeless story.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Taiwanese director Ang Lee received near universal acclaim several years ago for his filming of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. His latest film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, recently won Golden Globes for best foreign film and best director. In between the releases of those films, Mr. Lee made a film that received far less fanfare, and an even smaller audience, but nevertheless showcases his visual and story-telling skills. Ride with the Devil (rated R for graphic war violence) is another period piece, set in Missouri and Kansas during the Civil War. The story focuses on Southern bushwackers, ragtag bands of Confederate rebels that fought too far from the war's key battlegrounds to be part of the regular army. In typical Ang Lee fashion, the story is more about friendship, love, and a brutal coming of age than the philosophical or political underpinnings of the Civil War. While this detracts from a complete understanding of these characters' motivations, the story serves to humanize a group of men who are often portrayed as hollering savages. Ride with the Devil also trusts the audience enough to understand that America's bloodiest war was a complex, complicated tragedy, not a clean-cut battle between right and wrong-giving the film a welcome subtlety and intelligence.

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