Beauty Shop, Congeniality 2, and Off the Map
Dir. Bille Woodruff; writ. Kate Lanier, Norman Vance Jr.; feat. Queen Latifah, Alicia Silverstone, Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou, Mena Suvari (PG-13)
Following her role as Mama Morton in 2002's Chicago, Queen Latifah has starred in nothing but cinematic duds (Bringing Down the House, The Cookout, Taxi), including her latest hair-raising experience, Beauty Shop. When Gina Norris opens her own beauty salon in an Atlanta ghetto, business is rough as the electric wiring is not up to code, racial tensions rise between her coiffure crew, and Jorge (Bacon), an Austrian stylist, still harbors ill will against Gina for quitting her position at his stylish facility. With a weak script that revolves around making fun of a Georgian white girl (Silverstone), Beauty Shop is worse than a bad hair day.
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
| We're from the government and we're here to help you: Sandra Bullock and Regina King in Miss Congeniality 2.
Dir. John Pasquin; writ. Mark Lawrence; feat. Sandra Bullock, Regina King, William Shatner, Ernie Hudson, Treat Williams, Heather Burns (PG-13)
Given another mission in Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, Gracie Hart (Bullock) rides her wave of popularity and becomes the new poster child of the FBI.
Dolling herself up once again, Gracie makes the bureau look good with her guest appearances on television and by promoting her new book. When Miss America (Burns) and pageant emcee Stan (Shatner) are kidnapped, however, Gracie must put awaythe lip gloss and pull out the badge to save her friends.
With an unoriginal script that loses its message of female empowerment somewhere in its slapstick clumsiness, Armed is like walking with a stiletto on one foot and and a flat on the other.
| A New Mexico family lives off the grid - and without Prozac - in Off the Map.
Dir. Campbell Scott; writ. Joan Ackermann; feat. Joan Allen, Sam Elliott, J.K. Simmons, Valentia de Angelis, Jim True-Frost (PG-13)
Set against a desolate and beautiful New Mexico backdrop, Off the Map, stays on course as a collection of emotionally charged character studies.
Bo (Angelis), an independent and inquisitive 11-year-old, experiences a tough summer when her father Charley (Elliott, in a strong performance) falls into a deep depression. By his side is his wife Arlene (Allen), lifelong friend George (Simmons), and an IRS agent (True-Frost), who wait with Charley, hoping he will snap out of his gloomy state of mind.
Although metaphorically top-heavy at times, Map is a simple yet effective journey into a place very few films visit - the human spirit.