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The Independent Culture
BLUE STREAK (12, 93 mins)

Director: Les Mayfield

Starring: Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson

A strutting action-comedy in the Simpson-Bruckheimer vein, Blue Streak turns an indulgent camera on Lawrence's wisecracking jewel-thief. The plot has our hero infiltrating police HQ to retrieve a precious diamond and then going native as the most unorthodox cop since... oh, since Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, or the Lethal Weapon guys, or about a squillion others I could mention. Because Blue Streak is a film with nothing new to say, and a noisy way of saying it, you wish it would just pipe down and go away.


DOGMA (15, 125 mins)

Director: Kevin Smith

Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck

Where Clerks, Smith's classic poverty-row debut, stuck to a solitary convenience-store location, his scattershot Dogma tackles a sprawling canvas of life, the universe and everything. Thus we get a star-stuffed secular satire about two renegade angels (Affleck and Damon) intent on busting their way back into Heaven, and the odd-bod saviours (Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, Alan Rickman, Salma Hayek) charged with stopping them. The ensuing yarn gallops along at a breakneck pace; a rattle-bag of half-baked conceits, comedy cardinals, frat-house antics and a God who turns cartwheels outside church. Of course, Old Testament types might want its makers stoned to death, but there's really nothing that's offensive about this slipshod, rollicking, sporadically charming comedy. After all, as the pre-credits disclaimer says, "Even God has a sense of humour."



Director: Tim Hill

Starring: David Arquette, Andie MacDowell

In which the crooked-beaked Gonzo discovers he is an alien from outer- space and his Fuzzy Felt cohorts jiggle in time to various musical interludes. True, the latest Muppets marathon shoehorns in some spry one-liners and film-savvy japery, but there's still a lot of dead air in among the tried- and-tested malarkey, plus a moth-eaten sense to the franchise at large.


MYSTERY MEN (PG, 122 mins)

Director: Kinka Usher

Starring: Ben Stiller, William H Macy

When the preening superhero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is foiled by his arch nemesis (Geoffrey Rush), the Mystery Men - a raggle-taggle troupe of Walter Mitty types - seize their shot at glory. Set-up complete, Usher's comic-book spoof ambles merrily on its way, buoyed by bold, primary- coloured design and genial playing from its comedic cast (Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Paul Reubens). Sad to say, then, that this goofy little outing starts to flag midway through. In the end, there's not quite enough gags to go around.


Xan Brooks