Joel Siegel Movie Reviews


Oct. 24, 2003 -- Now in theaters: Beyond Borders, Radio and Scary Movie 3.

Beyond BordersSometimes watching a movie you are confronted with a moment either so bizarre, so improbable, or so frighteningly real, you find yourself thinking, "Wait a minute! What's going on here?"

Those moments take you out of the movie, and that happened to me a few minutes into Beyond Borders. Angelina Jolie is in Ethiopia. She sees a starving child. She picks him up to save his life, and you don't want to watch the rest of the movie. You want to help the child.

You feel guilty wasting your time and your money on something as frivolous as a movie when children are hungry. It takes you out of the movie and the movie never gets you back.

We follow Angelina Jolie as she treks around the world from famine-ravaged Ethiopia, to the jungles of Khmer Rouge Cambodia, to frozen, war-wasted Chechnya. She goes halfway around the world … and she still can't find a movie.

The premise: Her character is so moved by images of starving children, she is literally moved to action. She raises money, gathers food and medicines, and hand delivers them to a refugee camp.

If that's what Beyond Borders were about, it might have been a great film. But instead it becomes a love story. A love story?!

Early in the film they show us the victims of famine — infants, bloated, bones, barely alive. We instantly understand these are not Hollywood special effects, these are real children, the film stops being fiction and becomes a documentary and to watch Angelina Jolie and Clive Owen fall in love trivializes these human tragedies beyond the pale.

Angelina, here's something to remember next time: It's better to tell us one story that makes us feel than a thousand stories that make us numb. Grade: C.

Radio This film is based on a true story. The high school coach in a football-crazy South Carolina town virtually adopts a mentally challenged man known as "Radio" and encourages him to become the team's mascot and inspiration.

We do cheer through Radio's triumphs, on the field and off, as he's virtually adopted by the entire school.

As the school's coach, Ed Harris avoids the sentimental traps in the script. But not even the fine work from this excellent cast, which features Cuba Gooding Jr., and Alfre Woodward, can save us from the cholesterol-laden dialogue.

This film does make us feel. It got to me. I cried, but too often what Radio makes us feel is that we should be watching it at home rather than in the theater. Leave it to Hollywood to make a movie called Radio that would play better on TV.

It works as a family film. My recommendation: Skip the popcorn, buy some Lipitor. It does wonders on cholesterol. Grade: C+

Scary Movie 3

In Scary Movie 3, Charlie Sheen grabs an evil Michael Jackson lookalike, dangles him from a window, and says, "How do you like it?"

This is funny, funny, funny, and a different sensibility than Scary Movie 1 and 2. What can I say, third time's a charm. And I did get scared. I was afraid I'd ingested so much cholesterol watching Radio, I'd get a heart attack from laughing so hard.

After two huge, hysterical hits, The Scary Movie franchise has passed from the Wayan Brothers to David Zucker, who invented the genre when he made Airplane take off, and he hasn't lost his luggage — offering send-ups of The Matrix, Signs, and The Ring, with even a dash of American Idol.

Scary Movie 3 is even funnier than the first two. It's rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and drug references. No matter. They got it right this time — hip, hip hooray! See it before the real Michael Jackson sues. Grade: B+