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November 16, 2000

What's New

Big Momma's House (2000). If you think Martin Lawrence dressed up as a hefty grandmother is funny, off to the video store with you. But the whole project works so hard at creating funny situations that Lawrence gets no chance to be funny as himself. Fox: no list price; DVD (Oct. 28): $26.98; (CC); PG-13 for crude humor, including sexual innuendo, and for language and some violence.

Boys and Girls (2000). A romantic comedy with more complexity and depth than you might expect from a summer release. A spontaneous Claire Forlani and a serious Freddie Prinze Jr., students at UC Berkeley, fall into such a deep friendship it imperils the possibility of love. . Miramax/Buena Vista: no list price; DVD: $32.99; (CC); PG-13 for sexual content.

Fantasia / 2000 (2000). A sequel that was 60 years in the making, a blending of animation and music that is more ephemeral than epochal. Buena Vista: $26.99; DVD: $29.99; (CC); G.

Hamlet (2000). Michael Almereyda imagines what "Hamlet" might be like set in present-day Manhattan, with Denmark a corporate multimedia empire and the Prince of Denmark an aspiring filmmaker, with a superb Hamlet in Ethan Hawke. Miramax/Buena Vista: no list price; DVD: $32.99; (CC); R for some violence.

My 5 Wives (2000). Each joke strikes like a creaky, swinging barn door. It is, in short, a polygamy comedy about an oft-divorced entrepreneur (Rodney Dangerfield). Artisan: no list price; (CC); R for sex-related humor.

The Perfect Storm (2000). Creating one of the most terrifying storms in screen history goes a long way toward obliterating flaws in character and dialogue that crop up in this version of the best-selling book. George Clooney stars. Warner: $22.99; DVD: $24.98; (CC); PG-13, for language and scenes of peril.

Pokemon the Movie 2000 (2000). Leaving aside its cheesier jokes (even those made at the expense of its real-life avaricious collectors), it's better looking and better wrought than its full-length predecessor. Warner: $22.96; DVD: $24.98; (CC); G.

Price of Glory (2000). A former boxer (Jimmy Smits) transfers his ambitions and dreams to his sons. Despite a flawed script (and less than superior production values), this drama is fueled by Smits' powerful performance. New Line/Warner: no list price; DVD: $24.98; (CC); PG-13 for violence, language and brief drug content.

Running Free (2000). This sweeping family adventure tells how herds of wild horses came to roam the red sand dunes of Namibia's vast desert. Columbia: no list price; DVD: $24.96; (CC); G.

What's Hot

* Last week's Top 5 VHS rentals:

1. "The Patriot" (selected theaters). An epic look at America's war for independence that is more serious and skillful than might be expected from the team that gave the world "Independence Day." Mel Gibson stars. R for strong war violence.

2. "Frequency" (2000). An effective but overreaching sci-fi thriller that explores what happens in the present if you find a way to redo the past. The story about a police detective (Jim Caviezel) who communicates with his long-dead father (Dennis Quaid) is enjoyable until the final section. PG-13 for intense violence and disturbing images.

3. "Rules of Engagement" (2000). This courtroom-combat drama starring Tommy Lee Jones, Samuel L. Jackson and an impressive Guy Pearce is a moderately diverting entertainment that raises all kinds of questions it's not really interested in answering. R for scenes of war violence and for language.

4. "Return to Me" (2000). A love story that's as fresh as tomorrow yet honors the traditions of Hollywood's most cherished tear-jerkers. David Duchovny and Minnie Driver star in career-enhancing roles. PG for language and thematic elements.

5. "U-571" (2000). This ripping yarn of the attempt to steal a crucial code machine from a German sub gets high marks for tension and excitement, although it's undernourished in dialogue and character development. PG-13 for war violence.

*

* Last week's Top 5 DVD rentals:

1. "The Patriot"

2. "Frequency"

3. "Rules of Engagement"

4. "U-571"

5. "Shanghai Noon" (2000). Jackie Chan, as an Imperial Guard out to ransom a kidnapped princess (Lucy Liu) in the Old West, and Owen Wilson, as a rowdy train robber who becomes his sidekick, make for a terrific team in this zesty comic western. (1:48) PG-13 for action violence, some drug humor, language and sensuality.

*

* Last week's Top 5 VHS sellers:

1. "Left Behind"

2. "Toy Story 2" (1999). Lively and good-humored with a great sense of fun, it picks up where its predecessor left off. G.

3. "Thomas and the Magic Railroad" (2000). Treacly, preachy big-screen version of the TV series about a magical land of talking steam engines. G.

4. "The Green Mile: Collector's Edition" (1999). This Frank Darabont-written and -directed version is hampered by excessive length and the suffocating deliberateness of its pace. R for violence, language and some sex-related material.

5. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966). Chuck Jones' animated version of Dr. Seuss' classic.

*

* Last week's Top 5 DVD sellers:

1. "The Patriot"

2. "Frequency"

3. "U-571"

4. "American Beauty" (1999). A triumph for director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball, and a cast headed by Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. R for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content.

5. "Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box Collection"

What's Coming

Tuesday: "Chicken Run," "Gladiator" and "X-Men."

Commentary from Times movie reviews.

Rental video charts provided by VSDA

VidTrac, sales charts by VideoScan Inc.

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