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Diesel not enough to power 'XXX'

January 02, 2003|Susan King

"XXX"

Vin Diesel; Samuel L. Jackson

Columbia TriStar: $28

Director Rob Cohen teams up with his "The Fast and the Furious" star Vin Diesel for this loud, obnoxious and brain-draining special agent action-adventure that was supposed to turn the muscular, baritone-voiced actor into a James Bond for the PlayStation generation. There is some great stunt work, fun chase sequences and some beautiful shots of Prague, but it's much ado about nothing and it makes the latest Bond film, "Die Another Day," look like "Gone With the Wind."

If, however, this movie is your cup of tea, you'll probably enjoy the DVD, which is available in widescreen and pan-and-scan versions. There's a lengthy "A Filmmaker's Diary" documentary that is a bit better than most behind-the-scenes featurettes, but the cast and crew seem too conscious of the documentary filmmakers. There are also featurettes on the vehicles used in the films and on Diesel. There are several deleted scenes with optional director commentary, storyboard-to-film comparisons and commentary from Cohen, who keeps insisting on how great Diesel is. Diesel was great in "Saving Private Ryan," "The Iron Giant" and "Pitch Black," but with "The Fast and the Furious" and "XXX," he is wasting his talent.

*

"Barbershop"

Ice Cube; Cedric the Entertainer

MGM: $27

Though Jesse Jackson criticized a sequence in which the old barber played by Cedric the Entertainer makes disparaging remarks about civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Jackson himself, "Barbershop" is basically a harmless, moderately entertaining comedy set in an African American barbershop. And taken in context, Cedric's remarks reflect the barber's irascible nature.

Ice Cube plays a young man who reluctantly takes over his late father's barbershop on the south side of Chicago and decides to sell it to a loan shark (Keith David). Troy Garity, the son of Jane Fonda, is quite funny as a white barber who works in the shop.

The entertaining DVD has fun commentary from director Tim Story, producer George Tillman Jr. and writer Don D. Scott, deleted scenes with commentary by Story, a decent making-of featurette, an amusing look at haircuts, a glimpse at the cast attending a barber college in L.A.., funny outtakes and a photo gallery.

*

"Wisegirls"

Mira Sorvino; Mariah Carey

Lions Gate: $25

David Anspach ("Hoosiers") directed this tepid drama that is going straight to video. Mira Sorvino manages to shine, even when the material doesn't, as a young medical student who returns to her senile grandmother's Staten Island home after she suffers a tragedy. She quickly gets a job at a local Italian restaurant that caters to the mob and soon she is in deep with the mob's kingpin after she uses her medical knowledge to save one of his men. Carey is slightly better in this than she was in "Glitter" as a fast-talking, fast-living waitress, and Melora Walters is the meek waitress who harbors a dark secret.

Susan King

*

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Also this week

"Star Trek: The Next Generation -- The Complete Seventh Season" (Paramount, DVD: $139.99); the 1967 Russian version of "War and Peace" (Image, DVD: $69.99); Nickelodeon's animated "Hey Arnold! The Movie" (Paramount, VHS: $22.99; DVD: $29.99); and the Belgian cyber-romance "Thomas in Love" (New Group Video, VHS: $19.95; DVD: $24.95).

Top VHS rentals

1. Minority Report

2. Unfaithful

3. Austin Powers in Goldmember

4. K-19: The Widowmaker

5. Like Mike

Top DVD rentals

1. Minority Report

2. Unfaithful

3. K-19: The Widowmaker

4. Men in Black II

5. Austin Powers in Goldmember

What's coming

Tuesday: "Signs," "The Good Girl," "Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat" and "Who Is Cletis Tout?"

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