In a midseason inundated with new animated series, "Home Movies" manages to set itself apart, offering clever dialogue and sharp social commentary. With its patented Squigglevision, the UPN series, from the creators of "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist," may not be the prettiest on the block, but at least it's in the running for one of the funniest.Brendon Small (voiced by Brendon Small) is an asthmatic 8-year-old who routinely corrals his bespectacled baby sister Josie, best friend Melissa and snot-nosed neighbor Jason to star in his ultra-low-budget movies, like "The Dark Side of the Law." Filled with every movie cliche, recurring themes include imprisonment, betrayal and heartbreak --- all reflective of Brendon's outlook on life.The atrocities of Brendon's life are more or less a figment of his overly dramatic imagination, although his is a less-than-perfect life. Small for his age, Brendon makes a valiant attempt at team sports, but prefers hiding behind the lens of his video camera. Brendon's mother Paula (Paula Poundstone) is a recent divorcee who proudly wears a big chip on her shoulder along with her trademark baseball cap and sweat pants. Along with silent baby Josie, who spends much of her time in a bouncy seat, the Small world features a revolving door of underdogs and misfits.The first episode deals with Paula's first foray back into the world of dating, which, much to Brendon's horror, involves his soccer coach, Mr. McGuirk (H. Jon Benjamin). McGuirk (rhymes with jerk) is a Neanderthal type whose best attempt at any real coaching boils down to "Don't get a tattoo, play soccer." The lonely McGuirk is excited about the prospect of dating Paula, but she's decided to reveal her bitter side early in the date, so as not to promote false advertising.Brendon, a smarter version of Bart Simpson, is just as conniving and fallible, making studied remarks to unnerve McGuirk before the big date and taunting him unmercifully the next day at soccer practice.Put together by a tight-knit group, all of whom double and sometimes triple up on various production duties, the show has the frenetic energy born of heartfelt dedication.Squigglevision, a distinctive brand of computer animation that is the brainchild of executive producer Tom Snyder --- no, not the former latenight host --- gives a certain malleable quality to the characters that director Loren Bouchard uses to great effect, especially in the case of the squirmy Brendon.The voices have the natural rhythm of everyday conversation, the result of what the producers call "retroscripting" --- the stars ad-lib during readings. Talent here is up to the task.Small is a virtual gold mine of material, providing a distinctive voice and hilarious dialogue as Brendon, as well as the catchy theme song and episodic music (penned with the help of Bouchard). Poundstone's gruff voice and wry comedy are a natural fit for the show, and H. Jon Benjamin, as McGuirk and Jason , also proves to be versatile.Tech credits are fine.
(Caper film)A 20th Century Fox release, presented with New Regency Enterprises, of a Fountainbridge Films and Michael Hertzberg production. Produced by Sean Connery, Hertzberg, Rhonda Tollefson. Executive producers, Iain Smith, Ron Bass, Arnon Milchan.Directed by Jon Amiel. Screenplay, Ron Bass, William Broyles; story by Bass, Michael Hertzberg.
Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Phil Meheux; editor, Terry Rawlings; music, Christopher Young; production designer, Norman Garwood; supervising art director, Jim Morahan; art directors, Keith Pain, Michael Boone; set decorator, Anna Pinnock; costume designer, Penny Rose; sound (Dolby), David John; stunt coordinators, Vic Armstrong, Jim Dowdall; assistant director, Chris Carreras; second unit director , Armstrong; second unit camera, Jonathan P.B. Taylor; casting, Michelle Guish, Donna Isaacson. Reviewed at the UA Westwood, L.A., April 22, 1999. (In Cannes Film Festival --- noncompeting.) MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 112 MIN.Robert "Mac"
MacDougal ..... Sean ConneryVirginia "Gin" Baker ..... Catherine Zeta-JonesThibadeaux ..... Ving RhamesHector Cruz ..... Will PattonConrad Greene ..... Maury ChaykinDesigned as a romantic caper pic for Y2K, "Entrapment" is preposterous whimsy that sort of gets by thanks to lustrous settings, slick production values and, especially, its ultra-attractive stars. A throwback to the lightweight, globe-trotting thrillers of the 1960s, pic concocts a gigantic heist that can take place only on Millennium Eve. This lush hokum is far too silly and fabricated to generate any real suspense or credibility, giving the viewer no stake in the action. It works only as a dollop of make-believe, an opportunity to gaze at Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones magnetically pretending to enact a wary mating dance. Backed by a lavish and sexy campaign, "Entrapment" should generate good mid-range grosses internationally across the audience spectrum.Before certain pontificators have seizures over the roughly 40-year age difference between the two leads, it should be pointed out that the will-they-or-won't-they tension is the main thing this picture has going for it. Connery's master thief is a loner whose ethical codes preclude his emotional involvement with a professional partner, but then again, he undoubtedly hasn't ever had a partner that looked like Zeta-Jones. And even if you were a beauteous young woman who, as she freely admits, had never met anyone she couldn't manipulate or seduce at will, it seems reasonable that you'd at least think about checking out a man as rugged and charismatic as he is , age be damned.The possibility of romance is, in fact, more believable than anything else here. After a Rembrandt is stolen from a New York highrise by a mysterious figure who daringly dangles hundreds of feet in the air and enters the building using high-tech gadgetry, insurance investigator Gin Baker (Zeta-Jones) convinces her boss, Hector Cruz (Will Patton), that the culprit is legendary art thief Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Connery) and gets the green light to track him down in London. It's just 14 days before the turn of the millennium, and Mac gets the upper hand on his pursuer at once by invading her hotel room as she sleeps, then whisking her off to his castle in Scotland.Acknowledging that they can't possibly trust each other yet, the two nonetheless plot a job together that takes the picture through its first hour. A unique Chinese mask on display at an English museum is the object of their desire, and Mac puts his impressively limber young collaborator through some rigorous training --- part choreography, part gymnastics --- that will enable her to evade the crisscrossing laser beams of the alarm system that protects the mask. In fact, the exercises exist only as an excuse for the audience to ogle and admire the leotard-clad Zeta-Jones as she dexterously slithers her way through an intricate obstacle course, but few viewers will complain.Despite their outward cooperation , Mac is still rightly suspicious of his bright and talented new partner, especially after he overhears her calling in a progress report to New York. But they go through with the theft of the mask, then hightail it to Malaysia, where Gin is to deliver the artifact to a mad old crime queen (Maury Chaykin). Here she unveils to Mac her strategy for a stupendous computer heist.Fundamental silliness of Ron Bass and William Broyles' script is perhaps best exemplified by the plot point that Gin and Mac have precisely one day to prepare for a job that requires them to penetrate the elaborate security of the bank --- scenically located in the tallest buildings in the world, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Idea has something to do with bank transfers that Gin believes she can intercept due to the computer changeovers required by arrival of the year 2000; if all goes well, she and Mac can funnel $ 8 billion their way while everyone else is watching midnight fireworks.Without so much as a quip about what this might do to the Asian economy, the pair plot their hoped-for payday, although Mac's trusted high-tech supplier (Ving Rhames, just punching the clock here) and Cruz hover threateningly as they try to figure out what's going on. Action climax makes full use of the ornate tapering towers. Coy attempt to resolve pic's "serious" plot elements at a prolonged train station scene makes what's come before seem plausible by comparison.Director Jon Amiel knows the territory well enough to supply glamorous locations and nifty crime-assisting gizmos in a fancy package, but he's neglected to put anything inside the box. That leaves it to the stars, who, to their credit, carry their heavy load with no apparent strain.As sure-handed as ever, Connery, who doubled as a producer, is commanding in his role as a guarded Pygmalion to the young upstart in his charge but letting on, through little grunts and looks, how unsettled he is by her allure. After her winning breakthrough perf last year in "The Mask of Zorro," the stunning Zeta-Jones here displays an unmistakable confidence and assurance in this full-blown starring role, more than holding her own with her veteran partner.Film suffers from its lack of subplots and supporting characters. Tech credits are highly polished.