This Week's Attractions


Opens Fri., Dec. 26, at Pacific Science Center Fourteen years after Rick Moranis shrunk the kids in Honey I Shrunk the Kids, we mortals can finally experience the feeling of being dwarfed by insects. Bugs! magnifies bugs up to 250,000 times their normal size, then goes one better by projecting the bugs in 3-D on the IMAX screen. The 40-minute child-oriented movie is thankfully devoid of any "Ewww"-inducing moments. (Or maybe they won't be so thankful, depending on the child.) Instead, Bugs! bursts with interesting scientific facts and numerous shots of tiny critters gone large. Be warned, this is not a proper nature documentary, and much of the footage feels staged (undoubtedly because it all was). For parents, there's a nice jazzy soundtrack, plus narration by Dame Judi Denchsorry, no Oscar this yearfeaturing a few double entendres that are sure to fly(!) under the kids' noses. (NR) BRANDON IVEY CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

Opens Christmas Day at Pacific Place and others The Baker clan could form two basketball teams and still have a decent bench on each side, but it's football this family's obsessed with, since that's the sport patriarch Tom (Steve Martin) coaches. Dozen introduces us to the Bakers with a cloying old gag: Dad sits on bed, complains about "lumps," then tickles a passel of kids out from under the covers. Soon enough, the Baker children find themselves cast out of this prefab paradise. When a lucrative job in Chicago catches Tom's eye, he and his author wife, Kate (Bonnie Hunt), haul their rambunctious brood off to the Windy City. Based on a '40s best seller in the canon of large-family literature (previously filmed in 1950), Dozen redeems its outdated premise with inspired casting. Ashton Kutcher as a vacuous, stuck-on-himself male model? It's like the world-famous himbo simply stumbled out of bed and onto the set. Dozen's other pubescent stars form a cuddly coven of It Girls and Boys: In the role of fashionista Lorraine, Hilary Duff reboots her Lizzie McGuire persona, while Tom Welling (Smallville's Clark Kent) gives a surprisingly poised performance as surly football stud Charlie. Dozen also resuscitates Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly) as eldest daughter Nora, the beauty who inexplicably adores Kutcher's sexy beast. Somewhere between the career-boosting and typecasting, Dozen musters a bit of real heart. There's an undeniable sweetness to the film despite the easy slapstick and gross-out humor, particularly in its contention that every last one of us, however bespectacled and odd, really matters to somebody. On the other hand, if you have 12 kids, as one character tartly observes, a few of them are bound to end up on milk cartons someday. (PG) NEAL SCHINDLER PETER PAN

Opens Christmas Day at Pacific Place and others Poor Wendy. She finally nabs herself a guy, and he turns out to be like all the rest of them. Peter charms her with his good looks, grandiose stories, and sense of fun. Then he totes her off to his world with a bunch of empty promises, but it becomes clear he just wants her for one thing: He's looking for a mother. And will he talk about his feelings? Of course not. Instead, he shows her a fun time in Neverland, dances with her in the forest by moonlight, and steals a kiss or two. It's bliss until it becomes clear that he never intends to grow up. Sure, he'll play house with her, the two acting as father and mother to his obnoxious group of buddies. But when she has to save his ass from Captain Hook, how does he thank her? By never seeing her again. Universal's live- action Pan is at least as fun as Disney's 1953 animated classic, thanks to its smart set design and special effects. For the most part, the live actors are more fun than Disney's animated characters, tooexcept when said actors are annoying (buxom French hussy Ludivine Sagnier of Swimming Pool is slappable as a mute, cutesy Tinkerbell). Remaining mostly faithful to J.M. Barrie's original story, it's less jaded than Spielberg's atrocious 1991 Hook and more age-appropriate, although Captain Hook (Jason Isaacs, Mel Gibson's sneering British nemesis in The Patriot) is bizarrely sexy. For younger viewers, Pan's 113 minutes pass by in a whir of special effects and fleeting sword fights, with an atmospheric original score by James Newton Howard (the Coldplay "Clocks" instrumental that polluted the trailer is mercifully absent). For the rest of us, however, one question remains: Why couldn't Wendy dump man-boy Peter for a real man and hook up with Captain Hook? (PG) KATIE MILLBAUER THE YOUNG BLACK STALLION

Opens Fri., Dec. 26, at Pacific Science Center This prequel to 1979's fondly remembered The Black Stallion is a bad movie with bad actors and bad dialogue by the director of Free Willy. (Let's all just pause right here to shed a tear for the late Keiko. That's long enough.) The plot adheres to standard romantic comedy formula. Girl (Biana Tamimi) meets horse. Horse plays hard to get. Girl chases horse. Girl's grandpa says not to play with the horse. Eventually the wild horse gives in and allows itself to be "broken" by the girl. The 50-minute Disney-IMAX movie looks good, but it would be hard to make an IMAX movie look bad. There is little dialogue; mostly just landscape shots set to a generic soundtrack. Ultimately the girl must ride the horse in a race to save the family farm (like in most romantic comedies, right?). This equestrian contest won't make an adult's heart race, but it might mildly affect a child's wee pulse. (G) B.I.

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