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Thursday, April 15, 2004 03:53 am

Movie review 4-15-04

Connie and Carla

Familiar love story features drag queens, hit men, and show tunes

So what do you do for an encore after you've written and starred in the second most successful independent film ever made? Why, you shamelessly remake a Hollywood classic and hope no one notices! That's what Nia Vardolas appears to be doing with Connie and Carla, a twist on Some Like It Hot with a pinch of Victor, Victoria thrown in for good measure.

Vardolas (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame) stars as Connie and Toni Collette is Carla, two longtime friends who dream of Broadway stardom. Unfortunately, they've only made it as far as an airport lounge where they belt out show tunes for stranded passengers. After they witness the murder of their boss, the women flee to Los Angeles and masquerade as drag queens to hide from the killers. Given their enthusiasm, flair with costumes, and ability to sing, how could they be anything but stars in the gay community?

Alas, things get complicated when Connie falls for Jeff (David Duchovny), who is coming to terms with his brother's homosexuality and now questions his own sexual orientation. Duchovny, who has had trouble with sincerity in previous big-screen roles, does decent work here under Michael Lembeck's direction. He and Vardolas are never less than cute and charming together. Collette does a fine job as well, enthusiastic over the success that finally comes Carla's way and crushed when Connie, distracted by Jeff, leaves her behind. Meanwhile Boris McGiver, who plays the hit man on Connie and Carla's trail, nearly steals every scene he's in.

What other critics are saying. . .

The Alamo [PG-13] Santa's coming, and you better watch out. Tells the story of the 1836 standoff between a group of Texans, including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and the Mexican army, led by General Santa Ana.ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Ella Enchanted [PG] Ella is a young woman who was given the "gift" of obedience by a fairy named Lucinda. After her mother dies, Ella is cared for by her thoughtless, greedy father who remarries a loathsome woman. A variation on the Cinderalla theme based on Gail Carson Levine's award-winning novel. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

The Girl Next Door [R] A teenager's dreams come true when a former porn star moves in next door. "Marks its director and scripters as talents to watch and affirms that its young star, Emile Hirsch, is a big-screen natural." (Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter) Parkway Pointe

Hellboy [PG-13] A demon, rescued during infancy from the Nazis, becomes a defender against the forces of evil. "The sheer ingenuity and obvious joy [Guillermo] del Toro puts into the major action sequences lifts the movie out of the mundane." (Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Hidalgo [PG-13] The story of a Pony Express courier (Viggo Mortensen) who travels to Saudi Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous race for a massive contest prize. ShowPlace West

Home on the Range [PG] When an eviction notice is posted on the Patch of Heaven dairy farm, the cows decide to raise money by collecting a bounty on a notorious yodeling cattle rustler."Witty and self-assured, Home on the Range ranks as one of Disney's better efforts." (Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Jersey Girl [PG-13] A music industry executive struggles to raise his young daughter on his own. "[Ben] Affleck finally scores a hit with a co-star who is nine years old." (Victoria Alexander, Parkway Pointe

Johnson Family Vacation [PG-13] A family takes a road trip from hell, with the inevitable wrong turns, car problems and trouble with the law. Stars Cedric the Entertainer."This movie is a flat, unfunny mess." (Willie Waffle, Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 [R] Black Mamba continues her vengeance quest against her ex-boss, Bill, and his associates. "What Quentin Tarantino started with a wham he finishes with a bang in Kill Bill Vol. 2." (Todd McCarthy, Variety) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

The Ladykillers [R] A professor assembles a group of thieves for a casino heist. After they hole up in a sweet old woman's home, they find that she's the biggest threat to their plans. Stars Tom Hanks. Parkway Pointe

The Passion of the Christ [R] Mel Gibson's version of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ's life. Parkway Pointe

The Prince and Me [PG] Fairy tale about a college student who meets a prince in Wisconsin."Fitful corny one-liners and an ambiguous climax can be overlooked due to fresh scripting and the vast appeal of Julia Stiles and newcomer Luke Mably." (Jeanne Aufmuth, Palo Alto Weekly) Parkway Pointe

The Punisher [R] Based on a bad-ass Marvel Comics hero, FBI agent Frank Castle takes it upon himself to rid America of crime after his wife and family are killed. "Laudably exposes the dark core of the human heart." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed [PG] The gang must contend with a masked villain who unleashes scary monsters in an attempt to take over Coolsville. "Doggone fun for kids (and stoners) everywhere." (Susannah Gora, Premiere magazine) ShowPlace West

13 Going on 30 [PG-13] A 13-year-old girl plays a game on her 13th birthday and wakes up the next day as a 30-year-old woman [Jennifer Garner]. ShowPlace West

Walking Tall [PG-13] A former member of U.S. Army Special Forces (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) returns to his small Washington State home to revive his family's lumber business. The town's overrun with corruption; the ex-soldier fixes things with a two-by-four. "The new Walking Tall is essentially a lighter, cliff-note version of the original film." (Stefan Halley, ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

The Whole Ten Yards [PG-13]Jimmy the Tulip's (Bruce Willis) springs into action when the wife of his old pal Oz (Matthew Perry) is kidnapped by a Hungarian mob. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

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