Big Momma's House
Martin Lawrence is back, and he's got a big old prosthetic ass. Where do I sign? 82nd Avenue

* Blaxploitation Cartoon Special
The Clinton Street opens up their Blaxploitation month with a series of very rare cartoons from the early part of the century, which range from the super offensive to just really, really offensive. We dare you to go! Clinton Street Theatre

* Blood Simple
The Coens' best films are all descendants of this moody, geometric, fabulously accomplished first feature. A vulgar tale of small town thieves and liars, Blood Simple is gloriously corrupt, full of iconic small town caricatures including a fantastically baroque M. Emmet Walsh in what is his best screen role to date. The plot twists keep developing, like an infection spreading, to a lurid conclusion. A great first feature, with only a bit of that distracting Coen cleverness that so clutters their later work. Koin Center

Boys and Girls
A completely generic title for an utterly insipid, totally unoriginal wet noodle of a movie. It's always sad when a film references the classic it wants to be, like when the characters in this travesty head out to see Sixteen Candles. The best part of the whole experience was when my girlfriend won a soundtrack CD at the screening for knowing that Freddie Prinze, Jr. was raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 82nd Ave, City Center 12, Mission Theater

* But I'm a Cheerleader
Director Jamie Babbitt's feature debut may be a bit forced, but Natasha Lyonne as a cheerleader thought to be lesbian, is both believable and charming. Lyonne is sent to a homosexual rehabilitation camp run by RuPaul and Cathy Moriarty, and learns the valuable lesson that sexual orientation isn't as cut and dried as one might think. (Wm. Steven Humprey) Koin Center

The role of a stubborn, glitzy lounge signer was custom built for Liza Minnelli. In1972, for her role in this intoxicating and dreamy film, Minnelli walked away with Best Actress awards from both the British and American Academies as well as a Golden Globe. Faced with the rise of Hitler and nationalism, Minnelli's character is convinced that the show must go on. Alongside her androgynous emcee, they dance, twirl and sing with guttural passion. Editor's note: Not recommended for anyone in the throws of questioning his or her own sexuality. Fifth Avenue Cinema

Humphrey Boagart stars in this hilarious and heartwarming classic about a former hockey star who is forced by a judge to coach a losing hockey team filled with misfit and mischievious youths. Oh...waitasecond. That's Mighty Ducks. Never mind. Kennedy School Theatre

Chicken Run
Chicken Run is about chickens trying to escape. It is very funny and exciting; each chicken has a great sense of humor and is weird. Mel Gibson is the voice of Rocky, and Julia Sawalha (from Absolutely Fabulous) is Ginger. It all starts when Rocky the Chicken comes blasting over the fence and everybody thinks he can fly. The chickens ask him to teach them to fly but they don't make any progress. Something fishy is going on--Mrs. Tweedy (the farmer's wife) has a machine that lets the chickens go in and pies come out. They do whatever they can to resist becoming pies. (Sam Lachow & Maggie Brown) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Oak Grove 8 Theater

* Chuck and Buck
Chuck, a profoundly eccentric adult, tracks down his childhood friend (Buck) in order to woo him away from his fiancee. See review this issue. Cinema 21

A Clockwork Orange
Malcolm McDowell stars in this brilliant adaptaion of Anthony Burgess' novel about a gang of psychotic punks and their nightly forays in ultra-violence. This film is rumored to have been a big influence for 'N Sync. Hollywood Theatre

Mike Hodges' 1998 masterpiece Croupier makes a convincing case that a sleazy and specialized profession-in this case, the guy who rolls the ball and collects the chips at a roulette table--is a perfect metaphor for existential malaise. Jack (the very beautiful Clive Owen), is a wannabe London novelist with nothing to write, and no money coming in. He reluctantly takes a job as a croupier/dealer at a casino, and almost instantly becomes addicted--not to gambling, but to watching people lose. Like nearly all great films, Croupier is great specifically because of its genre trappings. It's the inevitability factor that gives the movie the power to be more than it seems. (Sean Nelson) Koin Center

Okay. It goes a little something like this. In order to control the universe in the year 10991, you gotta get the spice drug of Arrakis. The problem is that the evil Harkhonens are in control of Arrakis (aka Dune), and it's up to the heir of the Atreides family, Paul, to lead the revolt. After that I don't have the slightest goddam idea of what's going on in this movie. Good luck! Fifth Avenue Cinema

Erin Brockovich
Despite being directed by indie superstar Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich is just what it is: another big-budget Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts. In fact, because this is a Hollywood film, we suddenly notice aspects of Soderbergh's filmmaking that are harder to detect when he has complete control over his material: namely, how brilliant he is working with supporting actors, most notably men. In this case, it's Aaron Eckhart and Albert Finney. Without this, all you have left is a stupid plot and the denti-glorious spectacle that is Julia Roberts. (Charles Mudede) Laurelhurst Theater

An Evening with Chel White: Naked Cinema
Portland filmmaker Chel White premieres his latest film Soulmates, which explores the complexity of alienation and sexual obsession from the viewpoint of a 55-year-old woman. Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium

The Coen brothers are at it again with this fiercely funny and gorey film about a botched kidnapping, a pregnant sheriff, and a well-oiled wood chipper. Fifth Avenue Cinema

Films on the Lawn
An outdoor film series (located in the backyard of DaVinci Arts Middle School, NE Couch between 27th and 28th) focusing on raising awareness on diverse social topics. This week features short films about monkeys who try to chase after the moon, Japanese folk potters, and a documentary which features artist Joseph Albert. DaVinci Middle School Lawn

A hodgepodge about time-travel, ham-radio enthusiasm, the hazards of firefighting, baseball, mother love, and a father/son tag-team tracking down a nurse-butchering psychopath. This utterly confused film is a perfect example of Hollywood's shameless tendency to pillage the graveyard for the spare parts of its own schmaltzy genre. The result is a Frankenstein monster that bumbles and stumbles across the thin, emotional terrain of an Americanized (and therefore totally false) idea of nostalgia and redemption. (Rick Levin) Avalon Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
When he was young, Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) was saved from a group of street thugs by Louie (John Tormey), a low-level Mafioso who just happened to be passing by. In thanks, Ghost Dog pledged to serve Louie for the rest of his life, as faithful to him as any ancient samurai was to his master. Director Jim Jarmusch infuses Ghost Dog with the deadpan humor of his earliest films. (Charles Mudede) Bagdad Theater

Girl on the Bridge
Super-Frenchy Patrice Leconte directs this Super French film, staring French Superstar Daniel Auteuil as a guy who throws knives at women, professionally!! You'll need hands and feet to count the laughs in this one! Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium

Director Ridley Scott tramps through the standard gladiator movie plot like a tipsy party host, embracing each and every clichè like a dear old friend. War hero General Maximus (Russell Crowe) is stripped of his position by a scheming, new Caesar (Joaquin Phoenix). Escaping too late to save his family, Maximus falls into the hands of a slaver (the late Oliver Reed), and with the help of a former love and his rough-but-likable gladiator pals, seeks his revenge by finding glory within the Coliseum. Scott then uses all the technical advantages of modern film making to make the details as lavish as possible. (Tom Spurgeon) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Milwaukie 3 Theater

Gone in 60 Seconds
You've seen the trailer, now see the remake of this obscure car thief movie, which has been revamped and given the full Bruckheimer treatment (shame a bunch of good actors with massive paychecks so your crappy film has the patina of class). Big, red, fast, and loud--Kids'll love it! 82nd Avenue, Evergreen Parkway

"To be or not to be...dude." That's what you half-expect to come out of stocking-capped, goateed Ethan Hawke's mug in the latest, contemporary, re-imagining of a Shakespearean standard. Actually, it's a fairly passable update, turning Denmark into a corporation and brooding Prince Hamlet into a video artist. Apart from the unconscionable product placement of a monologue set in a Blockbuster Video, director Michael Almereyda (Nadja) earns points for originality, especially in casting choices like Bill Murray as Polonius and Steve Zahn as Rosencrantz (or is it Guildenstern?). And Hawke makes at least as good a Hamlet as Mel Gibson ever did. Cinemagic

High Fidelity
A romantic comedy for guys: John Cusack plays the cynically introspective Rob Gordon, the owner of a small record store. For various reasons, he has shit luck with women. Basically, he's a jerk, but he's not altogether clueless about his jerkiness. He struggles and obsesses and makes lists that he thinks define his life, but he's no closer to understanding women than he was in the fifth grade--which happens to be when he got dumped for the first time. Based on the popular novel of the same name. (Kathleen Wilson) Koin Center

The In Crowd
A poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks hooks up with a rich girl who shows her the high life, until the poor girl crosses the rich girls, and then the rich girl gets mad and decides to take her revenge on the poor girl who zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 82nd Avenue, City Center 12, Division Street, Washington Square Center

Jesus' Son
Sterling adaptation of the 1992 story collection by Denis Johnson. The '70s drug culture is the setting for Maclean's second feature (after Crush, with Marcia Gay Harden). Billy Crudup is the tirelessly sweet-hearted and soft-headed "FH" (for Fuckhead), a well-meaning junkie who wide-eye puppy-dogs his way through life and love with a lost soul named Michelle (Samantha Morton), both angel and very mortal woman; and his increasingly bizarre encounters with a menagerie of lost souls, all of whom soon agree he's earned his nickname. With Denis Leary, Dennis Hopper, and Holly Hunter. (Ray Pride) City Center 12, Laurelhurst Theater

The Kid
It's a good idea to come in about 10 minutes late to this movie. I did, and consequently I held on to a small hope throughout that I missed the beginning part that made sense of Bruce Willis hanging out with a little kid during his power lunches with rock stars in LA. Without this hope, I probably would have left the theater half way through, after the 100th scene of Bruce and the kid bonding over yet another of grandma's chocolate milkshakes, a dog named Chester, and a shared I'm-so-glad-we're-both-from-a-dysfunctional-family sentiment. Unfortunately, the only thing that happened by the end was that a 75-year-old Bruce Willis shows up to tell Bruce the first and Bruce the second not to worry, because he eventually grows up and gets the girl, the plane, and the dog. Too bad he still played a painfully shallow character in a painfully boring movie. Century Eastport 16, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater

Life is to Whistle
An incredibly lush fever dream of a film, Fernando Perez's Life Is to Whistle builds a compelling picture of the possibilities for love and self-transformation in modern-day Havana. Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium

Logan's Run
Michael York stars in this mid-'70s sci-fi classic! It's the 23rd century, and naturally, humanity if forced to live in a big, stupid bubble. Even worse, they decide it would be a good idea to kill off everybody when they turn 30! Now, I'm sorry, but living the rest of my life with what amounts to cast members from The Real World? Count me out! (Wm. Steven Humprey) Hollywood Theatre

Encouraged by last summer's blockbuster, American Pie director Amy Heckerling returns to high school humor and skin level emotions again, only this time setting the story in a college dorm. Nearly two decades after her sharply funny Fast Times at Ridgemont High and five years after the surprisingly sophisticated Clueless, Heckerling continues to devolve towards a lower sense of entertainment. Funny, yes. Complicated, not really. Loser tracks an offbeat college student through various costume makeovers and his desires for true love. Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Milwaukie 3 Theater

Me, Myself and Irene
When is Jim Carrey going to grow up and be a man? One of the best movie comedians when he's in the right project, Carrey is in danger of succumbing to Robin Williams Syndrome. For those without a Merck Manual nearby, that's a severe case of reality dissociation. This sickness describes a comic unable or unwilling to appear real. Constantly shielded by the gauzy mask of "goofiness," said comedian is trapped in a realm of total artificiality, in which he can't even say hello without a blend of caustic irony and grim mugging. This dire state of his health is relevant to Me, Myself & Irene. It's Fight Club lite, with all the dangerous ideas reduced to revenge comedy, and its radical rage homogenized. Carrey, who is a great physical actor and occasionally very funny in this movie, succumbs to the temptation to rely on the ghastliness of his face rather than the sincerity of his feelings. If he continues to insist on appearing in such roles without bothering to learn how to act them, between him and me, it's splitsville. (D.K.. Holm) Century Eastport 16, Evergreen Parkway, Milwaukie 3 Theater, St. John's Theater, Washington Square Center

Mission: Impossible 2
I loved this movie. I loved the vertiginous helicopter swoops as Tom Cruise scales an impossibly sheer cliff to receive his impossible mission. I loved the profligate back flips in the fight choreography as he takes out villain after glass-jawed villain. I loved the preposterous motorcycle chase/joust. I loved the human touches, too: the love triangle set against the backdrop of global intrigue; the lascivious slo-mo close-ups of Thandie Newton; the villain's Scots accent. But most of all, I loved the giddy sense of hyperbole and spectacle that coursed through the whole enterprise. It may not last too long after the credits roll, but pleasures like this aren't meant to. Otherwise, they wouldn't need to make part three. (Sean Nelson) Century Eastport 16, Washington Square Center

Nutty Professor II: The Klumps
Eddie Murphy returns (Why? Why? WHY??) as Sherman Klump in this sequel to the remake of the Jerry Lewis classic. This time, the apparently brainwashed Janet Jackson is pulled into the mire as Sherman's scientist girlfriend who helps him defeat his alter ego, the ultra-suave Buddy Love. 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas

The Patriot
Okay, remember that episode of The Simpsons where Mel Gibson remade Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and ended up impaling the President on a flagpole or some such silliness? Well, now he's gone and made a three-hour movie that's just like that, but without the irony or humor. It's set in a colonial America where slaves and owners get along pretty darn well, the British are a bunch of baby-killing, dog-kicking hooligans, and the one French guy makes Gerard Depardieu sound like Peter Jennings (don't worry, there's no sign of the Native Americans in this heartwarming saga). Did I mention that the movie justifies killing wounded soldiers and teaching your kids to fight in war, as long as it's for something you really believe in? And have I gotten around the sheer pomposity and lack of anything resembling subtlety in the film? And another thing-hey, leggo, I'm not done yet! There's this part where Mel- (Marc Mohan) City Center 12, Division Street, Eastgate, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas

A Perfect Storm
Plot: Fishermen fight storm in hopes of getting home to some pussy. Protagonists: Marky Mark, Dr. Ross, Happy's competitor in Happy Gilmore, a few guys who are in every other movie, some no-names. Villains: Hurricane Grace, backed by two other vengeful storms. The money-grubbing boat owner. Perks: Awesome special effects: 50-foot sea swells, water rescues, hurricane clouds etc. Downers: Canned dialogue, excessive machismo, totally stupid ending. Recommendation: If you're looking for a marijuana freak-out, smoke some and head to this flick. If you're looking for an Academy Award Nominee, forget it. (Katie Shimer) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Moreland Theater, Movie House, Oak Grove 8 Theater

Pokemon 2000
An evil (genius?) villain captures three sacred Pokemon beasts that represent the primary forces in nature: Fire, Ice, and Lighting. When the three elements are brought together, they call forth an even more mythical beast known as the Guardian (picture a hairless deer with wings and fins that can fly and talk telepathically). This movie is nuts. It's full of half-rate anime and limp "be your own hero" slogans, not to mention the insufferable mascot Pikachu, whose only mode of speech is its own name spoken incessantly, like the Snuggle bear with brain damage. In short, Chicken Run is the same price. (Russell Meyer) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater, Tigard-Joy Theater, Washington Square Center

Return to Me
A guy (David Duchovny) falls for a girl (Minnie Driver) who has received his dead wife's heart in a transplant. No, really. Edgefield Powerstation

Road Trip
Road Trip takes the 15-minute road-trip sequence from Animal House and expands it to feature length. In this case, "University of Ithaca" college student Josh (Breckin Meyer) accidentally mails his long-distance girlfriend Tiffany a videotape of him having sex with another woman, forcing him and a trio of college buddies to drive 1,800 miles to recover the tape and save his relationship. Relating the tale of this Odyssean quartet is Benny (Tom Green), the first unreliable narrator figure in what must be the first humanist teen sex comedy. Why "humanist?" This genre of comedy is generally predicated on fear and repulsion toward "the other." This movie parades a sea of creepy or scary archetypes past its travelers (the only one missing is a predatory homosexual)-and then allows them nuanced responses. The foot-fetishist and food molester are just creepy, but the large, horny black woman is allowed a dose of humanity, as is the likable, boner-bearing Grandpa. Josh's sidekick E. L. (Seann William Scott) discovers the joys of prostate stimulation, while dorky Kyle (DJ Qualls) wins over an all-black frat house with his dancing before bedding the aforementioned BBW. Repulsion executes a complicated dance with attraction, and we (and by we, I mean over-sexed, underaged boys) emerge from the movie theater better people for it. (Eric Fredericksen) Avalon Theatre, Bagdad Theater, Edgefield Powerstation, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater

Scary Movie
Though I can't say Scary Movie was particularly witty, or even clever, the cast performs their over-the-top slapstick with such good-natured intentions, it's hard not to be swept up in the fun. Sure, there are the requisite off-color jokes directed at gays, potheads, teen sex, and the mentally challenged, but unlike the Farrelly brothers (Something About Mary, Kingpin), Wayans delivers punchlines as a nudge in the ribs rather than a slap across the face. (Wm. Steven Humprey) 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater

* Shaft
Who's the black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks? SHAFT! You damn right. Who is the man who would risk his neck for a brother-man? SHAFT! Right on. He's a complicated man, but no one understands him like his wooooo-man. JOHN SHAFT! Can you dig it? Oak Grove 8 Theater, St. John's Theater, Washington Square Center

Shanghai Noon
Even the presence of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson can't save this revisionist Western action comedy from the musty odor of the second-rate. Its plot unfolds like a fifth-generation Xerox. Some princess has to be saved from some clumpy, labor-driven railroad/mining concern, and the male leads must shed their current roles and embrace new, dimly-conceived identities. Wilson and his co-star are to be credited for occasionally rising above the material, but there are much better ways to spend a summer afternoon. (Tom Spurgeon) Avalon Theatre, Kennedy School Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

Small Time Crooks
Woody Allen's 2000 entry is one of his unambitious, hoping-only-to-amuse movies. Too bad it's unoriginal, not very amusing, and a near waste of some of this world's greatest comic talent: Tracey Ullman, Elaine May, and Jon Lovitz. Allen casts himself against type as Ray, a poor, dopey szchlub married to an equally dim former exotic dancer, Frenchie (Ullman). He plans an ambitious bank heist--he and some buddies will buy a storefront two doors down from a bank and run a cookie shop as a front while tunneling underground to reach the bank vault. The heist is a flop, but Frenchie's amazing cookies turn the front operation into a multimillion dollar business. At this point, a series of tired themes (money can't buy happiness or sophistication or taste, you know) clamp down on the movie, the plot conveys some typical twists, and the movie ends. (Eric Fredericksen) Cinemagic

What says "sunshine" more perfectly than the history of Hungarian Jews in the 20th century? And who says "sunshine" more beautifully than Ralph Fiennes? The irrepressible Fiennes vieux takes on three sequential roles in this epic (that's one hour per role) account of one poor family's travails through three generations of Europe's now famous anti-Semitic hi-jinx. A total downer. Koin Center

Thomas and the Magic Railroad
Based on the ultra-creepy kids show of the same name, this partially animated children's film stars the ever-dwindling talents of Alec "Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen" Baldwin. Century Eastport 16, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Washington Square Center

Titan A.E.
A new animated feature from the Bluth studios. The Earth has been blown to shit, and it's up to a cocky, smart-mouth teenager to find a spaceship filled with survivors and lead them to a new Earth (presumably one that doesn't have fuck-wit cartoons like this one). Voice characterizations by Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore and ... Tone Loc?!? Waitasecond, we take it all back! Avalon Theatre, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater

Jeff Bridges is screwed when he gets sucked into the video game system of a Commodore 64. Fifth Avenue Cinema

One of the most important turning points in World War II was the Allied capture of the German code machine Enigma. U-571 is an attempt to show us modern folks what this dramatic event must have been like. The only thing not historically accurate is the damn story. A British destroyer was responsible for capturing the machine, not Matthew McConaughey! Better you should watch Das Boot. (Juan-Carlos Rodriguez) Avalon Theatre

The Virgin Suicides
The most consistent element of The Virgin Suicides is a steady stream of images that echo the feminine-hygiene commercials of the 1970s. Considering the material--five teenage sisters growing up in a repressive home and headed for funerals rather than graduations-the lightness of touch is surprising. But to juxtapose suicide with buoyant innocence might be uniquely appropriate; if the film has a message, it seems to be that a mythologized purity of youth can't survive into adulthood. Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

What Lies Beneath
Harrison Ford is in the soup, BUT GOOD, when he discovers an old, dead lover has taken up residence in his wife's (Michelle Pfeiffer) body. Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater

This movie is all fine and dandy, but there's one area where I got beef: Where the Hell is Psylocke? You know, Betsy Braddock, super-tuff ninja lady, psychic knife. What, were her extrasensory powers too ambiguous for the special F/X dudes to translate to the big screen? Yeah? Well, I got one thing to say: SYNERGY! If fucking Hasbro could animate the life of Jem (complete with holograms and flashing earrings) back in the '80s, surely the creators of X-Men could've put a piddly ole psychic knife in a computer and churned out something cool. I'll stick to the video game, thanks. Broadway Metroplex, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Eastgate, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Oak Grove 8 Theater