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December 1999

Strike a Pose

Blue Streak*** Two-hour Martin-izing Miles Logan (Martin Lawrence) is a career thief who has made the discovery of a lifetime: a giant diamond, ripe for the picking. Learning there is no honor among thieves, a greedy squabble with his partner lands Miles in jail. But before he’s caught, Miles stashes the diamond in the ventilation shaft of a nearby construction site, where he returns two years later, after he has been released from prison. Thinking all he has to do is retrieve his rock and retire as a multimillionaire, his dreams are dashed when he discovers the diamond is safely ensconced in the Los Angeles Police Department. Plotting to recover his precious booty, Miles impersonates a detective, but soon finds himself in the midst of robberies, car chases and drug busts, all the while conspiring against criminals who know him. Will his street smarts give him an edge, or be the telltale sign that lands him back in the slammer? And what about his ex-partner in crime? Director Les Mayfield (Encino Man, Flubber) has successfully merged two movie staples: the buddy cops and mistaken identity. Granted, the story is unbelievable, but who cares? The result is an amusing, lightweight cops-and-robbers farce. Lawrence is energetic, on the edge and, more importantly, likable. The supporting cast of Luke Wilson (Home Fries), Dave Chappelle (200 Cigarettes) and William Forsythe (The Rock) stand on their own merit. Blue Streak is certainly no Lethal Weapon or Beverly Hills Cop, but it has its own appeal. Charged with committing clever comedy and top-notch action, Blue Streak is caught red-handed. Never Been Kissed*** High School Redux In Never Been Kissed, timid Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) is a young copy editor at the Chicago Sun Times, but she yearns to be a reporter. When her boss (Garry Marshall) wants to staff an undercover journalist in a local high school, Josie gets the job. She quickly learns that she doesn’t fit in any better now than she did when she was in high school. She befriends Aldys (Leelee Sobieski), a girl who’s as much of an outcast as she was, and earns the respect of her English teacher, Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan). However, these modest successes fall far short of gaining admittance to the “in” crowd. Enter Josie’s brother, Rob (David Arquette), who follows her lead and also goes back to the hallowed halls of teen angst, tricking all into believing that Josie is hot and happening. Suddenly, she’s dating the coolest guy in school and is in the running for prom queen. But what will happen when everyone finds out her deep, dark secret? The appealing Barrymore, who doubles as executive producer, offers romantic hope for lovelorn geeks worldwide. On the supporting front, Sobieski is competent as the head geek, but the smirking David Arquette and libidinous Molly Shannon are less than endearing. Director Raja Gosnell (Home Alone 3) and screenwriters Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein charm us with intelligent humor, good physical comedy and even manage to make the clichéd sex-education class scene funny again. Kissed should make out well at German box offices. Jakob the Liar** Good morning Poland As a Jew in World War II, an innocent mistake could mean your life. In Jakob the Liar, Jakob Heym (Robin Williams) is caught breaking curfew and is summoned to Gestapo headquarters. Awaiting interrogation, he overhears a German radio report about the advance of the Russian army. Returning home later, Jakob tells the war news to his former boxing pupil, Mischa (Liev Schreiber), and word spreads quickly. Soon, everyone in the ghetto believes Jakob has a radio and they beg him for news from the outside world. A Jewish physician (Armin Mueller-Stahl) discovers the ruse, but points out that since Jakob began spreading his news, the ghetto’s suicide rate has dropped markedly. As Jakob observes the hope his snippets of news inspire, he begins to fabricate his own news. Of course, if word of a forbidden radio were to leak to the Gestapo, Jakob would surely be a dead man. Based on a 1969 novel and a 1974 German film, Jakob the Liar director and Holocaust survivor Peter Kassovitz attempts to blend humor and tragedy, but with dismal results. Armed with a “Fiddler on the Roof” accent and a mouthful of Yiddish slang, actor/executive producer Williams (Patch Adams) delivers a flat and forced performance. The small supporting cast is equally disappointing, save Mueller-Stahl, Germany’s master character actor, who played a small role in the original film and is best known abroad for his part in Shine. I could tell you this is a great film, but I would be lying. <<<

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