Now in theaters: Solaris, 8 Crazy Nights, and Treasure Planet.
Solaris — George Clooney makes it look so easy when he plays those flip, hip characters. In Solaris, he digs deeper, playing a psychiatrist who meets his dead wife while trying to save a space station.
This film — a remake of a Russian classic — is not science fiction. Though it's set in the future, Clooney is consumed with the past. A year earlier, his wife (Natasha McElhone), committed suicide. Yet when he gets to the space station, she's there. He's created her from his memories.
This is one of those movies where I wanted to stand up in the middle and applaud. Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh — two of Hollywood's most salable commodities — took chances. Yes, it is static. And there's no simple solution. But they stretched their art. It's 2002's 2001. Grade: B+
Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights — Adam Sandler seems to live in another parallel universe — one with a lot of bodily fluids.
Yes, 8 Crazy Nights is a cartoon but no, it's not for kids. Sandler personally told me not to bring Dylan, my 4½-year-old. His exact words: "Oh, no, no, no!" It's rated PG-13.
Sandler plays a very angry, very mean, very unhappy young man who doesn't celebrate Chanukah or Christmas and does his best to ruin everybody else's. Then a miracle happened: I liked the film.
Another miracle: Someone is nice to Sandler. Without asking. Without asking anything in return. Think of It's A Wonderful Life with Adam Sandler instead of Jimmy Stewart. You got it. There's neat music, too, especially a new version of Sandler's hysterical "Chanukah Song." Grade: C+
Treasure Planet — What a brilliant idea: retelling Treasure Island in outer space, complete with Long John Silver sailing a majestic space galleon.
In this version, a merchant spaceman named Billy Bones gives Jim Hawkins a virtual intergalactic map. "Beware the Cyborg," are Billy's dying words.
The animation is stunningly beautiful. In IMAX it's spellbinding. Having the artists spin the design off from Robert Louis Stevenson's 19th century Britain is another piece of genius. Grade: B+ P.S. Dylan loved it, this one's a holiday treasure.