In "Bringing Down The House",Queen Latifah plays Charlene, an escaped convict who has an Internet romance with a divorced attorney (Steve Martin) who is still in love with his ex-wife (Jean Smart). Once he meets her and shockingly realizes she looks nothing like the leggy blonde in the JPEG she sent him, he casts her off. Charlene, claiming she's innocent of her crime, makes her way into Peter's (Martin) home, life, and family in an attempt to clear her name; much to the chagrin of his employer, top client, and ex. Conversely, she's welcomed by his children and law partner (Eugene Levy), who finds Latifah hip and happening. "Bringing Down The House" is hardly new or original in terms of story line or comedic gags. You'll see every ethnic stereotype and label played out here. However, Latifah comes through in fine form and Eugene Levy is very much the part of the white bread guy who catches jungle fever. The laughs in "Bringing Down The House" don't exactly raise the roof, but they aren't in the basement either.
Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: This house brings down good entertainment.
"The Business of Strangers" is an interesting independent movie directed by Patrick Stuttner and starring Julia Stiles (Save the Last Dance, O) as the assistant of corporate VP Julie Styron (Stockard Channing). After Paula (Stiles) shows up 45 minutes late for an important business meeting, she's fired, but chance, or so it seems, brings she and Julie together again in a hotel bar. After finding out she's just been promoted to CEO, Julie invites Paula to celebrate along with a smug young headhunter (Fred Weller: Basquiat, Armageddon). The two women form a fast but peculiar friendship during the course of the evening, boozing it up and even exacting revenge for a past wrong. You soon realize that one of the women is nothing like she seems, and her behavior puts the other in serious jeopardy. Lasting only 99 minutes, "The Business of Strangers" is a nice diversion and a good quality indie film.
Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: Make it your business to see this moive.
"Radio" is a durable, although contrived feel-good tearjerker. Cuba Gooding is James "Radio" Kennedy, a normal kid who's a bit slower than most (read: retarded). He got the nick from Coach Jones (Ed Harris) because of his love of radios. After finding Radio locked in an equipment locker being harassed by his football players, Jones takes both pity and a liking to him. From there the two form an unlikely but loving relationship. Radio is made part of the team, school, and the community. Naturally there is conflict with a few people who feel that the coach is distracted by his relationship with Radio, amongst them Frank (Chris Mulkey), father of Jones' star player (Riley Smith) who was originally one of Radio's principal taunters, but softens towards him in the end. Additional trepidation is felt by school administrator (Alfre Woodard) who warily oversees Jones' stewardship of Radio. Lovingly supporting Coach is his wife (Debra Winger) and daughter (Sarah Drew: Daria) who just wants her father to give her the same attention that he gives to his players and protégé. S. Epatha Merkerson (NBC's Law and Order) appears as Radio's doting and protective mother. This is a good return to a substantial dramatic role for Gooding and Ed Harris serves ably as the consumed coach. "Radio" is based on a true story and the movie's end has some real life shots of Kennedy and the Coach, as well as a 'where are they now' blurb.
Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: Good film, but unless you go for this type of movie, you can tune into this Radio as a rental.
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