VIDEO REVIEWS

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South Park Box Set - Series 2 (15) Warner, retail HHHH

In case you missed the commotion surrounding Trey Parker and Matt Stone's irreverent cartoon, South Park follows the antics of a group of scantily-drawn school children in snowy Colorado where modern sensitivities such as race, religion and gender have yet to land. The sadistic idiosyncrasies of eight-year-olds are searingly documented while the in-jokes include the regular killing of Kenny. South Park falls short of the acutely-observed satire of The Simpsons, and if you've seen one, you've seen them all, but this second series is still more than worthy of your attention.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (18) CIC, retail HHHH

Despite its cumbersome title, writer/director Guy Ritchie's portrayal of low-life east London is by turns frightening and funny. Nick Moran plays a hustler whose attempt to outwit crime boss Harry the Hatchet goes seriously awry. He and his chums must raise a lot of money or else Harry will start removing their fingers. An intricately plotted farce takes shape involving a pair of antique shotguns, some Oxbridge drug dealers and an evil hardman Big Chris (Vinnie Jones). The script brims with rib- tickling one-liners and witty slang, though east Londoners might bristle at the cliches.

Best Laid Plans (15)

Fox Pathe, rental HHHH

Mike Barker's skewed thriller sees Alessandro Nivola's garbage man, Nick, falling for Lissa (Reese Witherspoon), an altruistic vet's assistant. When Nick gets involved in a disastrous heist that leaves him at the mercy of a violent extortionist, Lissa comes up with an extraordinary plan in order to raise some cash. The story is rather clumsily told through a series of flashbacks but Witherspoon and Nivola are a charismatic couple and their love story proves just as compelling as their fearful predicament. Some nimble plot twists in the final scenes make Best Laid Plans a cut above the average thriller.

The Prince of Egypt (U)

Dreamworks, rental HHH

No one could accuse DreamWorks of lacking ambition. First they take on Disney's A Bug's Life with Antz; now they have adapted the story of Moses, another slap in the face for Disney and their fairytales. The animators have strived to avoid Disney's doe-eyes - some characters could have been lifted from a Japanese Manga comic - and the feature is surprisingly humourless. Steve Martin's court magician is underused and the songs are as po-faced as any Disney feature. But there are some awesome scenes, particularly the parting of the Red Sea. Not a patch on Charlton Heston, mind you.

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