‘I’m not delusional, I’m possessed’

The latest horror movie to roll off Dark Castle Entertainment’s production line has the same darkly gleaming paint-work as its earlier models, House


THE CAT IN THE HAT (PG) 82 min .0

Dr Seuss was funny and witty. he made up a tale of a scurrilous kitty. The cat's hat was tall and rhymes were his call; kids the world over were having a ball. And then Mike Myers got hold of the hat. and the cat in the hat was stupid and fat. And there the rhyme ends. as does the fun.

Bo Welch (Men in Black) directs a gross travesty of the original book's spirit. All the guirky. free-falls of imagination and sprightly garne- playing are gone. Dakota Fanning and Spencer Breslin as Sally and Conrad contribute cringeworthy. Charmless performances. while Mike Myers squeezes his face into a goofy-looking puffed-up outfit that is perhaps a reference to the state of American diet these days. Which is another problem. Candyfloss-imbued 19508 suburbia is



Stupid and fat

confused With modern day references and the 'fun' embarked upon at Myers' behest manages to be tedious. inaner boring and irritating. A lingering air of desperation pervades. so that by the end you're longing for everyone to be put out of their misery.

(Ruth Hedges)

I General release from Fri 2 Apr.

on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts and Ghost Ship. Production designer Graham Walker’s neo-gothic sets may be gloomier and grungier, but French director Matthieu Kassowitz and cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Requiem for a Dream) have applied some flashy, superficial polish. Unfortunately, Gothika also shares its predecessors’ poorly-tuned narrative engine, which makes for a bumpy, noisy and uncomfortable ride.

‘I’m not delusional, I’m possessed,’ insists criminal psychologist Dr Miranda Gray (Halle Berry), when she awakes in the psychiatric ward of the Woodward Penitentiary for Women, incarcerated with the very inmates she used to treat. The good doctor claims she saw the ghost of a distressed young woman and can’t remember anything after that; the police say she stabbed her husband to death. What is logical? What is sane? Not this plot,

that’s for certain.

Ignoring all professional protocols, Dr Gray is treated in her former workplace by her close colleague and would-be lover, Dr Pete Graham (Robert Downey Jr), while her alleged crime is investigated by her husband’s lifelong friend, Sheriff Ryan (John Carroll Lynch). If you can believe this, you won’t have any trouble with the plot’s other absurdities, still less the tales of rape and burning religious torment told by Dr Gray’s ex-patient turned fellow inmate Chloe (Penelope Cruz).

Silly, scuzzy B-movie with delusions of A-list grandeur. It’s the latest disappointment from director Matthieu Kassowitz, whose Cn’mson Rivers suffered from similar credibility problems, and who has yet to fulfil the promise of his debut feature, La Haine. (Nigel Floyd)

I General release from Fri 2 Apr.

DRAMA SONG FOR A RAGGY BOY (15) 100min .00

Just as The Magdalene Sisters protested the abusive treatment of girls in Irish convents. so too does Song for a Raggy Boy bring to book the Church for its horrendous treatment of youngsters (here boys) placed in its care. Alden Quinn plays an Irishman recently returned from the Spanish Civil War who takes a teaching job at a reform school and finds there a brutal regime every bit as fascistic as Franco's.

Subjected to beatings and buggerings by the priests. the teenage and yOunger boys find in Quinn's William Franklin an adult who treats them With compassion. But try as he might. there seems little the war veteran-turned-teacher can do to stop the brutality. His nemesis. lain Glen‘s utterly terrifying; Brother John. has the righteous anger of God thrumming thr0ugh his veins. and one rebellious bOy in particular. Liam (played by impressive newcomer John Travers). is singled out for special attention.

The Magdalene Brothers

Writer-director Aisling Walsh's film checks the catalogue of brutality with lighter moments in the scenes between Quinn and his students in a way the unrelentingly harrowing Magdalene Sisters didn't. But Song for a Baggy Boy nevertheless hammers home its criticism of religiOuS institutions. particularly in the Violent climax. The film also benefits from the casting of its adult leads blue-eyed Quinn and iron-jawed Glen's performances are outstanding.

Tom Brown's school days were nothing compared with this.

(Miles Fielder) I Selected release from Fri 2 Apr.


The second live action film spawned by the 1970s cartoon series is an amiable enough. if eminently forgettable. romp. Where the first mowe was pitched somewhere between tribute and send- up of the Hanna-Barbera show. the sequel plays things pretty straight. The gags are a mix of pop culture intertextuality and low-brow srlliness: Gellar's Daphne in a nod to her Buffy role shows off her martial arts chops. while Shaggy and Scooby repeat the first moves fart Jokes. Younger Viewers Will be amused and grown-ups will find the experience relatively painless. (Jason Bestl

I General release from Fri 2 April.

A second helping of Scooby snacks

ROM-COM 50 FIRST DATES (12A) 99min 0.

As date memes go. The Wedding Singer is one of the few worth remembering. It had the dubious distinction of breaking Adam Sandler into a Wider audience. rewtalised Drew Barrymore's career and offered a genuinely romantic chemistry between the leads. No Surprise. then. that they've been reteamed here for 50 First Dates. but this time Sandler is much more of a straight man. playing Henry Roth. an aquarium vet. The comic busmess is generally left to his eternal sidekick Rob Schneider and a vomiting sea lion. Barrymore's waif-like charms are heavin played on in a more demanding role as Lucy Whitinore. a sleeping beauty who is doomed to play out the same day ever and over again until Sandler's Prince Charmless arrives.

There's a source in Pirandello's Enrico ll/ buried in here that's creatively eprOred. as Sandler comes up With endlessly inventive ways of making his dates With Barrymore count towards a meaningful relationship. And the chemistry between the leads is still there. despite director Peter Segal's awkward gear changes from crude slapstick to vaguely philosophical interludes. But on the whole. 50 First Dates is an overcooked attempt to recapture past glories sometimes a great one-night-stand makes more sense than a long-term relationship. (Eddie Harrisonl I General release from Fri 9 Apr.

Sleeping beauty and Prince Charmless

3.15) Apr 200: THE LIST 25