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Grading from A-F

Intelligent and biting look at the political and PR landscape of 1990's campaigning. Warren Beatty (director, star) keeps the comedy and his message accelerating until a slightly disappointing ending. A-

Spike Lee produces another quality film, though as usual filled with gratuitous sex and running about a half hour too long. Ultimately, however, Lee provides an insightful and realistic portrayal of the recruiting battle over a top high school basketball player (Ray Allen). This is a must see for basketball fans, heightened by the fact that Ray Allen proves he can act. B+

"Godzilla" is a huge production with a gigantic marketing scheme but still can't manage to grow into the size 2,000 lead shoes TriStar strapped onto its feet. (more) D

Stupidity runs amok in the latest effect-filled disaster thriller as every character seems hell-bent on proving the theory "survival of the brightest." B-

Bruce Willis with a twist -- this time he's a troubled "FBI" agent. C

Neve Campbell, as you've never seen her before, stars in this hormone-laden, sex-driven mystery. Cookie-cutter teen thriller. B

--Kevin Ridolfi, Rob Gallo


Rating: A-
Starring Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Natascha McElhone, Noah Emmerich, Ed Harris. Directed by Peter Weir. Rated PG, contains profanity. Running time: 110.

ROB GALLO | Let's get something straight right away: The Truman Show is not your typical summer blockbuster.

Yes, it contains a high-profile star, Jim Carrey. Yes, it had a sizeable budget. Yet, this is where the blockbuster comparison ends. There are no large monsters or natural disasters in this movie. Peter Weir's (Dead Poet's Society, Witness) movie doesn't need such trite gimmicks. The Truman Show's genius is a reliance on two recently forgotten qualities in Hollywood (especially, it seems, in summer movies): plot and ingenuity.

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is adopted at birth by a corporation with the intent of turning his life into a television show. From Truman's birth, which was broadcast live throughout the world, every minute of his life has been an event shared by millions of viewers as the Truman Show. The mythical island community of Seahaven, a monstrous sound stage, serves as the location for the show. Seahaven is a Disneyesque place where the sun always shines and everyone is nice to one another. Of course all of it, from the weather to Truman's love life, is a staged production. In fact, the only thing not staged is Truman's reactions to the script, the very reason audiences keep tuning in. The viewers (including the real movie goers) watch to see how Truman will react to his scripted existence and when, if ever, he will find out that his whole life has been staged.

Everyone wants to know "How will it end?", which is reflected in buttons worn by the show's fans. This hook makes The Truman Show so strong. We don't really know how it is going to end, but more importantly we are not sure how we want it to end. When we do finally get to the end, we aren't presented with a nice tidy ending, but rather an ambiguous one which will keep you thinking as you walk out of the theater. This may annoy some viewers, but after Godzilla, we can all use a little mental stimulation.

The Truman Show makes us think, which movies certainly don't do often enough anymore. Jim Carrey (Ace Ventura; Liar, Liar) is excellent as Truman -- easily his most challenging role to date. Carrey portrays Truman with the proper amount of humor and naivete, creating a true hero. The plot obviously helps Carrey pull the role off, but I cannot think of any other actor who could have combined humor and likability as well as Carrey does in this movie. The other characters play well off of Carrey especially Ed Harris (Apollo 13) as the eery Christof, director-creator of the Truman Show, and Noah Emmerich who plays Truman's best friend and manages to reassure Truman when things seem a little too perfect.

Again, The Truman Show is not your typical over-the-top summer movie, and because of that it is refreshing and worth seeing. The only quick comparison that comes to mind is Forrest Gump which was a breath of fresh air, and did so well at the box office because it offered movie goers something different. The Truman Show is a lot like that, and at 110 minutes is much shorter. The only reason it comes up short of perfection is that I think Gump and some of the Oscar nominees this past year are a little better. Regardless, this will probably be the best of this year's summer movies. Definitely the most unique.

ROB GALLO of Wethersfield, CT, is a staff writer and the movie guru of Renaissance Online Magazine.

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