Rob Schneider and Eddie Griffin in Deuce Bigalow: European GigoloDEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO

Some comedies are so colossally, ridiculously unfunny that you're left with no choice but to stare at them in abject bewilderment. To the surprise of probably no one, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo is such a comedy. Yet the movie - and I hesitate to call it one - is actually far more intriguing than "colossally, ridiculously unfunny" would indicate.

Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis in Open WaterOPEN WATER

We all know that shoestring-budgeted independent works aren't necessarily going to have the professional sheen of Hollywood output, but after reading the rave reviews for Open Water, I feel compelled to ask: Just how much amateurishness are we expected to endure in the name of cinematic political-correctness (i.e., loving an indie solely for being an indie)? Barring an ingeniously edited sequence during a thunderstorm and a few stomach-tightening moments when sharks make surprise appearances, I didn't find Open Water the least bit scary, let alone "Riveting!", "Electrifying!", and all the other superlatives currently being lavished on it (and this from someone who still gets freaked out watching The Blair Witch Project). Worse still, the movie is so badly performed and overwritten that it has the unintentional effect of coming off as totally phony, and since the film was notoriously shot with the leading actors surrounded by real sharks, realism is Open Water's only true draw. Are we film critics now so openly hateful toward CGI-heavy Hollywood blockbusters that we'll happily convince ourselves that tedious, flatly staged thrillers such as Open Water are actually great?

How strange that, of the two movies I recently caught as a double-feature - Jonathan Demme's The Manchurian Candidate and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, directed by Dude, Where's My Car? auteur Danny Leiner - not only is Harold & Kumar the better of the two, it's the only one really worth discussing in any detail.

David Carradine and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill: Volume 2KILL BILL: VOLUME 2

Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 2 is everything I hoped last autumn's predecessor would be (and, for me, wasn't): thrilling, surprising, deeply emotional, and very, very funny.

Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler in Jersey GirlJERSEY GIRL

Theoretically, there's nothing wrong with Kevin Smith momentarily eschewing his predilection for what he terms "dick and fart jokes" in favor of more honest, heartwarming fare, but good God, don't we Smith fans deserve better than Jersey Girl? In previous films, Smith presented us with a woman who screws a dead man, the Almighty in the personage of Alanis Morissette, and a lesbian who switches teams for Ben Affleck, yet I found his latest work the least believable in his oeuvre, a movie so brazenly phony and audience-pandering that I wanted to hide my face.

Are mainstream movies, in general, becoming more and more stale? The question arose a couple of weeks ago when an acquaintance asked if I'd seen anything good recently. After a pause I was finally able to reply, "Uh ... Return of the King?"

"Well, of course that. Anything since then?"

In a colon-happy summer that's already given us X2: X-Men United, Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, this past week saw the debut of three more excessively wordy titles: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde, and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. While these longer monikers are, admittedly, kinda helpful - they give you a good idea of what to expect from the Terminator and Legally Blonde sequels, and the Sinbad subheading assures you that, no, it's not a concert film featuring the one-time Star Search champion - they can play hell on print reviewers with limited space. So, for purposes of this article, the aforementioned will hereby be referred to as T3, LB2, and ... oh, I guess Sinbad will do.

Morgan Freeman in DreamcatcherDREAMCATCHER

Just how unspeakably bad is the Stephen King adaptation Dreamcatcher? Allow me to present a few examples of opening sentences I was considering for this review:

Michael Moore in Bowling for ColumbineBOWLING FOR COLUMBINE

Michael Moore's latest, the astounding documentary Bowling for Columbine, has finally made it to our area (it's currently playing at the Quad Cities Brew & View), and although I spent a couple hundred words extolling its merits last month in the Reader - where I named it my favorite movie of 2002 - the film is so good that a few hundred more seem necessary.

Bonnie Wright and Daniel Radcliffe in Harry Potter & the Chamber of SecretsHARRY POTTER & THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS

Although I didn't care for last year's Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone, I was more than willing to greet the new Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets with an open mind.

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