Crocodile grin and two dimensional fun

  • 2004-01-15
  • By Laimons Juris G
Mona Lisa Smile. It is 1953 and Katherine Watson (Julia Roberts) is fresh out of the University of California in Berkeley, having landed a job at Wellesley, an exclusive college for women. Watson soon realizes that the primary purpose of this fancy finishing school is not to educate but to enable each female there to catch a suitable husband and become a good housewife. All the men in this movie don't have a chance, they all come across like real jerks.

An excellent cast featuring Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Marcia Gay Harden and Juliet Stevenson is all revved up and ready to go. Especially noteworthy is newcomer Ginnifer Goodwin who manages to steal every scene she appears in. Unfortunately, the perfectly flat script is the work of two males, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, who co-wrote "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," among others. The director, Mike Newell, fails to excite as he has done before in "Four Weddings and a Funeral," as well as "Donnie Brasco." Perhaps if the fairer sex had written and directed it, "Mona Lisa Smile" would have been more on target. Nevertheless, the soundtrack is a jumpin' groove of 1950s tunes that will keep your toes tapping.
Roberts is totally miscast as she walks through her part, playing her standard grinning and gangly, awkward self. The Georgia-born actress ruins this motion picture. It is completely shameless that she was paid $25 million for her vapid performance. Maybe Roberts should have played a flying female gorilla with super powers instead.
Basically this flick tries too hard to be a feminine version of "Dead Poet's Society." It has some heart, but is completely lacking a brain. Roberts has a pained expression on her face throughout the movie or is she acting?

Spy Kids 3D: Game Over. The first two movies in this popular series directed by Robert Rodriguez were enjoyable family fare, but this sequel could have been a lot better. The story continues where the previous film left off. Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara) has left the Spy Kids organization and is working as an independent private detective. The young Cortez is reluctantly recalled to service to save his sister Carmen (Alexa Vega). The evil Toymaker (Sylvester Stallone) has created a video game that traps children's minds in a virtual world while their bodies remain in a comatose state.
Stallone delivers a fun performance as the dastardly villain while Sabara is a bit of a drag. Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino appear only toward the end and have literally nothing to contribute. The most fascinating feature of this family adventure consists of wearing special 3D glasses.
II 1/2