Pluto Nash, Blue Crush, The Good Girl, Serving Sara and Undisputed

THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH-- Director Ron Underwood's outer space comedy sucks all the spunk out of the once raunchy Eddie Murphy's comic persona. I don't mind Murphy playing warm and fuzzy, as lo

THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH— Director Ron Underwood's outer space comedy sucks all the spunk out of the once raunchy Eddie Murphy's comic persona. I don't mind Murphy playing warm and fuzzy, as long as he delivers some laughs. It's the year 2087 and Pluto Nash (Murphy) owns a nightclub on the moon. The mob wants Nash's club, but he's not selling. Slapstick hijinks ensue. Rosario Dawson plays an aspiring nightclub singer. John Cleese is Nash's chauffeur. Blaxploitation star Pam Grier is Nash's mother. The Adventures of Pluto Nash, a film that's been sitting on the shelf for some time, can't muster one worthwhile gag. Granted, Pluto Nash looks slick, complete with futuristic sets and costumes, but all that means is more money was wasted on a brain-dead story.

Steve Ramos (Rated PG-13.)
CityBeat grade: D

BLUE CRUSH— The one positive surprise in an otherwise predictable summer belongs to director John Stockwell's likable surfing drama Blue Crush. Kate Bosworth is both pretty and believable as surfer girl Anne Marie. More importantly, Anne Marie's relationships with her younger sister Penny (Mika Boorem), and fellow surfers Eden (Michelle Rodriguez) and Lena (Sanoe Lake), are emotionally honest and engaging. The film's core drama revolves around Anne Marie's decision to compete in the Pipe Masters surf competition, a macho contest that's unfriendly toward female surfers. Actually, Blue Crush's drama focuses on Matt (Matthew Davis), a visiting football player who complicates Anne Marie's life with unexpected romance. Blue Crush loses some steps whenever it shifts its melodramatic story in an Officer-and-a-Gentleman-like direction. Bosworth and her surfer costars are too tough for Cinderella labels. Luckily, Stockwell keeps Blue Crush moving with acrobatic camerawork, honest dialogue and plenty of action. Despite an ending filled with clumsy clichés, Blue Crush creates a trio of female heroes who are strong-willed, courageous and exciting to watch. — SR (Rated PG-13.)
CityBeat grade: B

THE GOOD GIRL— After a season of predictable summer blockbusters, director Miguel Arteta's small-town comedy, The Good Girl offers its share of surprises. In the film, Jennifer Aniston plays a frustrated housewife who tries to boost her life through an affair with a young man (Jake Gyllenhaal). In fact, the film's best surprise lies with Aniston's easygoing comic performance. She brings to Arteta's low-budget film a jolt of real-life drama and heartache. In another movie, Aniston would be the focus of a conventional farce. There would be slapstick gags and broad comedy. But Arteta, reuniting with his Chuck & Buck screenwriter Mike White, makes Good Girl into a human drama with its share of emotional challenges and lifelike storytelling. Good Girl makes you laugh and that's one of the best responses a film can hope for. — SR (Rated R.)
CityBeat grade: A

SERVING SARA— Elizabeth Hurley wiggles her trademark curves as Sara Moore, an Englishwoman married to a rich Texan (Bruce Campbell). Joe Tyler (Matthew Perry of TV's Friends) is the process server who delivers her divorce papers while she's visiting Manhattan. Together, they plan to scam Sara's oil-rich hubby and travel cross-country in order to do it. Reginald Hudlin (House Party, The Ladies Man) directs. — SR (Rated PG-13.)

UNDISPUTED— Wesley Snipes plays the cool-headed boxer who spends his time building towering pagodas out of toothpicks and glue. Ving Rhames is the Mike Tyson-inspired hothead who gets to bluster and bully his way through the movie. When they meet in prison for a boxing match, the result is meant to be explosive. Instead, veteran director Walter Hill manages to make Undisputed one of the more predictable action movies in recent memory. The story is fast-paced and appropriately gritty. Still, without any surprises, Undisputed fails to hold one's attention, despite its potential to be a modern-day exploitation picture. — SR (Rated R.)
CityBeat grade: C

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