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Movie Spotlight

February 22, 1998|Kevin Thomas

Crimson Tide (NBC Sunday at 8:30 p.m.), a 1995 tale of seething conflicts aboard an American submarine on the eve of nuclear war, is strictly by the numbers, but hardly ever are traditional elements executed with such panache. This film's commercial formula is capped by taut performances from stars Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. The relationship between Washington's lieutenant commander of a Trident submarine and Hackman's ultra-tough captain is the core of the film.

The mainstream success of Gus Van Sant's darkly comic satire "To Die For," starring Nicole Kidman as the most ruthless 'weather girl' in the history of TV, may trigger wider interest in My Own Private Idaho (TMC Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.), Van Sant's idiosyncratic 1991 odyssey of two hustlers, one gay (River Phoenix), the other straight (Keanu Reeves). This film is so distinctive and effective that it can even sustain a curious, counterproductive inclusion from Shakespeare's "Henry IV, Part I."

Although humorous and energetic, A Low Down Dirty Shame (KTLA Thursday at 8 p.m.) is about as routine as a private-eye action-adventure can get, but it does have a secret weapon: Jada Pinkett, a feisty and funny comedian as witty as she is pretty. As Peaches, she is a secretary extraordinaire, at once sassy and devoted to Keenen Ivory Wayans' Andre Shame, a seedy L.A. private detective. Smartly produced and certainly lively, this 1994 film is diverting while you're watching it, but you're liable to start forgetting it by the time the end credits start to roll.

Casper (ABC Saturday at 8 p.m.) is awfully friendly in this 1995 film and so adorable that he might as well be the Pillsbury Dough Boy, with whom he shares more than a passing resemblance. The problem with "Casper" has always been his goodness. It's much easier--and more fun--to get behind a cartoon villain. Goodness easily devolves into sappiness, and, in "Casper," the Friendly One is upstaged from the start by his three goofball uncles, Stinkie, Stretch and Fatso. Just about the only imaginative things about "Casper" are the digitized Amblin/Industrial Light & Magic effects involving the ghosts and a few fun-ride scenes with a mini-roller coaster inside the mansion. And even these are more cheesy than transporting.

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