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Video Rentals

Culture | The top 5 videos in popularity as measured by rental receipts for the week ended March 11

Issue: "Aging in place," March 31, 2001
1
Meet the parents $17.1 million
1 week in release
$17.1 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro / Jay Roach (Mystery, Alaska) / Universal

PLOT
A Jewish male nurse travels with his would-be fiancée to meet her uptight, WASPy family for the first time.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug references, and language. Contains a scene mocking an attempt to pray before a meal.

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BOTTOM LINE
That scene is bad, but the film overall has more in common with classic screwball farces than modern gross-out comedies.

2
Bedazzled $5 million
2 weeks in release
$10.9 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Brendan Fraser, Elizabeth Hurley / Harold Ramis (Analyze This) / 20th Century Fox

PLOT
The devil offers a lonely computer technician seven wishes in exchange for his soul.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor, language, and some drug content. Also makes light of serious realities: God, the devil, heaven, and hell.

BOTTOM LINE
Modern revision of Faust that not only lets the "tempted" off the hook but also remakes the devil as a supermodel who is actually in cahoots with God.

3
The Contender $4 million
1 week in release
$4 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Joan Allen, Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges / Rod Lurie (Deterrence) / DreamWorks SKG

PLOT
A female senator faces allegations of sexual misconduct when she is nominated by the president to serve as his vice president.

CAUTION
Rated R for strong sexual content and language. Includes brief but graphic scenes of a frat-house orgy.

BOTTOM LINE
Addresses recent real-life political events by making a heroine out of the atheistic, adulterous senator because she refuses to respond to questions about her personal life.

4
Nurse Betty $3.9 million
2 weeks in release
$8.7 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Renee Zellweger, Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear / Neil LaBute (Your Friends and Neighbors) / USA Films

PLOT
Simple Kansas waitress who witnesses her husband's brutal murder embarks on a journey to find a fictional character in her favorite soap opera.

CAUTION
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, and a scene of sexuality. One early scene portrays a brutal scalping and murder.

BOTTOM LINE
Clever black comedy that's alternately brutal, cynical, and sweet.

5
What lies beneath $3.9 million
6 weeks in release
$44.3 million to date
CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO
Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer / Robert Zemeckis (Cast Away) / DreamWorks SKG

PLOT
Supernatural (or is it?) thriller with New England woman hearing strange noises at home, uncovering dark secrets about her husband's activities.

CAUTION
Rated PG-13 for terror/violence, sensuality, and brief language.

BOTTOM LINE
Unpleasant story focused on an adulterous relationship; after promising, low-key start, supernatural themes make little sense.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT
We are not recommending The Mexican (rated R for violence and language), but it's worth noting for one reason: The movie marks the mainstream convergence of unappealing trends in recent film. At heart a simple relationship comedy, the film builds its elaborate plot around the search for an antique pistol known as the Mexican. Brad Pitt is an errand boy for L.A. crooks, sent to Mexico to retrieve the gun; Julia Roberts is his psychobabble-obsessed girlfriend, ready to leave him for his inability to extricate himself from this sleazy line of work and fully commit to her. The Mexican has packed theaters in recent weeks with a story that culminates in a bullet to the head, not a passionate kiss. What was once shocking in drama is now commonplace in a "romantic comedy" of the post-Pulp Fiction era. A newer trend is also found here: the presence of a sensitive, introspective killer. James Gandolfini plays a hit man keeping an eye on Ms. Roberts until the pistol reaches the appropriate destination. Mr. Gandolfini's hit man is not only understanding and perceptive-he's also homosexual, making him Hollywood's perfect candidate for dispensing relationship advice to the troubled couple.

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