Girl (15) 96 mins *

Grunge: Dominic Swain in Girl

A few years ago, at the withered end of the Seattle Grunge phenomenon, Reality Bites banged the final nail into the coffin of an innocuous movie fad that started with Sing/es. So what is this? A few years later the mutant, dribbling, half-breed sister turns up and guess what? —- she has been living in suburbia and having a hard time. Girl tells the story of Andrea (an insipid Dominique Swain) in her final year of high school and faced with making a choice between being a full-time groupie and going to college

Girl is so flat it looks and feels like an feature-length episode of Beverley Hills 90210, with a fatuous sprinkling of sex and swearing. Despite strong support from Tara Reid as Cybil the rock chick rebel and some sharp dialogue, the film fails to engage on any level. What really galls is the flaccid, anachronistic soundtrack in a film that is partly about youth’s obsession with the pop icon in this case a singer with all the charisma of wet cod ( Sean Patrick Flanery). Without a Ben Stiller or a Cameron Crowe to lift this adolescent angst fest above the cliched norm (you know the recipe - suicide, anorexia and a touch of lesbianism), Girl stays firmly ensconced in (M)TV land and is only likely to appeal to adolescent girls too young to see it. (Paul Dale) I Selected release from Fri 24 Sep.

You've got mail: Kate Capshaw in The Love Letter

The Love Letter (15) 87 mins it

A familiar kind of story, in a familiar setting with a familiar cast, this romantic comedy of errors has its moments, but they are few and far between, as various characters in a small American town find their lives brightened by a letter they believe was written by a secret admirer. As one discovers it, and looks furtively around for the identity of this mystery person, so it passes - by chance or coincidence - to someone else. Bookshop owner Helen (Kate Capshaw) wonders if it might have been the hunky fireman (Tom Selleck) who, ironically, is an old flame. Or maybe it’s a young employee (Tom Everett Scott), who has started acting a little oddly. Having read the

missive himself, he believes that Helen has penned it for him. Others in this peaceful community soon begin to join in and personalise the romantic mystery, never guessing the true meaning of the note nor the true identity of its author.

The Love Letter is slight, and deals in roughly drawn characters who merely make up in quirkiness what they lack in depth. It might have been hoped that a cast including Capshaw, Selleck, Ellen DeGeneres, Blythe Danner and Geraldine McEwan could have brought more weight to the proceedings, but they don't. As a result audiences may feel as let down as some of the characters, quickly reaching the same conclusion that this letter is not for them. (Anwar Brett)

I General release from Fri 1 Oct.

new releases FILM

“TEETH-cont roe nuiuim


(15) 103 mins ***~k

For his follow-up to his little seen feature debut, Citizen Ruth, director/co-writer Alexander Payne went to Tom Perrotta's novel, a comic satire on the 1992 American presidential election campaign set in a high school.

Perrotta also found inspiration in the true life case of a conservative high school principal who fixed a prom queen election so that a pregnant girl didn’t win. It's this facet of the novel that Payne plays up, focusing on the conflict between Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick), a dedicated teacher who's also suffering from a mid-life crisis, and Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), a model but precocious student. McAllister takes offence at Flick’s smug confidence and convinces popular school sports star Paul Metzler (Chris Klein, doing a good ’n' goofy impersonation of Keanu Reeves) to run against her. Which, in turn, draws Paul's lesbian loner sister, Tammy (Jessica Campbell) into the fray. Flick resorts to dirty tricks, which raises McAllister's hackles and escalates the conflict to ludicrous proportions.

There's much to recommend here: Payne's use of his Omaha hometown and non-actors (all the teachers), which creates a milieu not unlike The Simpsons' Springfield; his casting of unknowns, Klein and Campbell; Broderick and Witherspoon’s winning performances and a super sharp script. (Miles Fielder)

I Selected release from Fri 24 Sep. See preview.


Campaign trail: Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon in Election

Bi Daddy (12 93 mins ***

Sadly not an homage to the late wrestling great, this is the new comedy vehicle for Adam Sandler's similarly unsubtle comedy talents. Which is not to say he isn't funny, just that most of it, in this case, seems to revolve around his abrasive screen persona - endless amounts of knuckle-headed brawn triumph against the odds. The Wedding Singer proved a rare exception, being a character-driven comedy with a little more depth, texture and laughs. Big Daddy cannot emulate that quality, but at least raises the game from Sandler's last dire outing, The Waterboy.

Sandler plays Sonny Koufax, a full time slob with a law degree, but no desire to get a proper job. It's only when he fears losing his girlfriend that Sonny takes any action, and that (bizarrely) is to pose as his absent flatmate when social services contact him about his long lost son, Julian. Which is how Sonny comes to be playing daddy to a sweet five-year-old, someone who might, arguably, have more maturity and worldly wisdom than he does. Therein lies the humour - Sonny and Julian's bonding, and for that he’s rewarded with a new girlfriend. Silly it may be, but despite the lack of ambition it’s occasionally funny, and brief too.

(Anwar Brett) I General release from Fri 7 Oct. See feature.

Greenwich Mean Time (18) 117 mins **

G:MT is far too moralistic to capture the identity of British youth at the close of the Millennium. Unlike Human Traffic, every effort is made to identify drugs as the breeding ground of crime and the diverse multi-cultural traditions in music are lost in a maze of characters attempting to discover the essence of life.

On their last day of school, Charlie, Rix, Bean, Sherry, Lucy and Boddy are told by their teacher to ’leave the confines of your existence and break free from the boundaries of South East London.’ They do this by forming a band and, four years later, attempt to take the world by storm, fusing a ground-breaking mix of jazz and jungle. (Here, the audience has to suspend belief and ignore the changing music trends started in the early nineties with acid jazz.) However, the band's burgeoning success is contrasted with various internal tensions.

Sadly not even the appearance of Talvin Singh playing the tablas lifts the soundtrack, which is surprisingly lifeless. Fans of Hinda Hicks, who plays Iona, may beg to differ, but will find it harder to argue that G:MT is a showcase for the image of Cool Britannia. (Kaleem Aftab)

I General release from Fri 1 Oct.

Fame: The kids from Greenwich Mean Time

23 Sap-7 Oct 1999 THEM”