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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

JULY 26, 1999: 

AMERICAN PIE. This is like a traditional teen-sex comedy with a real film trying to break through its sticky surface. Unfortunately, the real film only manages to produce the occasional speech that is quickly contradicted by the action of the teen-sex film. The story focuses on a group of male high-school friends who vow to lose their virginity before the prom. Then at the prom, they make speeches about how that's maybe not such a cool idea. Then they do it anyway. On the way there one of the boys secretly films a female high-school student as she undresses, and broadcasts it over the Internet. And of course there are no repercussions for this--at least not for him. I found that pretty creepy. While this is basically an amoral version of Diner for horny teenagers, it's reasonably funny (thanks in part to a hilarious performance by Eugene Levy). -- James DiGiovanna


LIMBO. Decidedly not about the dance, director/editor/writer John Sayles' latest effort investigates the stunted growth of residents of a fishing town in Alaska. The first third of the film aimlessly introduces the emotionally crippled main characters and a number of inconsequential and overly symbolic others. Joe (David Strathairn), an ex-fisherman, and Donna (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), a nightclub singer, attempt a love connection, while Donna's daughter (engagingly portrayed by Vanessa Martinez) exists largely in a self-created fantasy world. The three are stranded on an island for much of the film, and this physical isolation from civilization underscores the confining solitude each feels. Maddening folk music adds to a New-Agey feel, but the unexpected and satisfying ending helps level out the limbo bar. -- Polly Higgins


MUPPETS FROM SPACE. Don't be surprised if this latest muppet caper is next in line for denouncement by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, as its existential opening scene portrays Noah in a rather unsympathetic light: he hands the purple, crook-nosed Gonzo an umbrella and slams the arc door in his face. What's worse, the film's star is a heathen alien who shares a suburban house with two inseparable old men (former art critics, no less), plus a gaggle of monsters, hippie rock stars and barnyard animals; and his best friends are a frog, a rat, and a cagey Creole crawfish. Hardly a role model for our nation's precious youth! But if you're either a 6-year-old or a longtime fan of the muppets, you'll likely enjoy this Great Muppet Caper meets Close Encounters adventure about Gonzo's search for his true identity. Only the muppets could turn government conspiracy, animal experimentation and the least trusted profession in America (i.e., news media) into a lighthearted romp culminating with a cat fight between Miss Piggy and Andie McDowell. Best of all, there's lots of funky music which nevertheless features very little singing by the muppets themselves. -- Mari Wadsworth


RUN LOLA RUN. Perhaps because Hollywood films are so plot driven, this style-heavy German film is being incorrectly marketed in the U.S. as a thriller. It's not. It's an amazingly beautiful 83-minute music video which reduces story to a simple premise so that visuals and soundtrack serve as catalysts for the characters. Techno music, quick edits and a fast pace accompany Lola as she runs frantically to get money to her boyfriend, with this scenario playing out three times with varying outcomes. The people she encounters on her jog, as well as Lola herself, are merely components manipulated to interesting effect by engaging camerawork that emphasizes the aesthetic capabilities specific to the cinematic medium. -- Polly Higgins


THE WOOD. MTV Productions hopes to cash in on those who listened to rap and R&B artists in the 1980s, rather than the New Wave music defining most recent films about the decade. This mildly entertaining fellowdrama about three teenage boys who grew up in Englewood, California, is narrated in flashbacks by Mike (Omar Epps) as he and Slim (Richard T. Jones) attempt to get their commitment-weary friend Roland (Taye Diggs) to the altar on his wedding day. The contemporary sequences adequately establish their ties, but those set in the past are poorly paced, awkwardly acted and simplistically written. Thankfully, this male bonding film is true to the genre and includes the obligatory naked group-showering sequence. Though Mike assures us that "the Wood" refers to his hometown, I know what I saw. -- Polly Higgins


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