By Bruce Fretts
Updated September 14, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

In Theaters

AMERICAN OUTLAWS (94 mins., PG-13) A six-gun dud spun out of the dubious proposition that Jesse James (Colin Farrell) and his gang were clean-scrubbed Robin Hoods. By now, about the only way to imagine this genre getting much worse is if they did a remake of The Wild Bunch starring Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and the Hanson brothers. D+ (#610/611, Aug. 24/31) — OG

AMERICAN PIE 2 (104 mins., R) Another slice of the sweetly raunchy sex comedy that was such a moneymaker two years ago. The entire cast is back, partying like it’s 1965 and the summer of Beach Blanket Bingo. All the punchlines are served on dessert plates. All the family values remain intact, held fast by nostalgia for sexual innocence past. B- (#609, Aug. 17) — LS

BUBBLE BOY (84 mins., PG-13) The tale of immunity-free Jimmy (Jake Gyllenhaal), on a road trip to stop his girl-next-door love (Marley Shelton) from marrying another guy, insults not only people with immunodeficiency disorders but also Christians, Jews, Latinos, and Asians. After a few minutes, you’ll feel more trapped in the theater than Jimmy does by his bubble. F (#612/613, Sept. 7) — Bruce Fretts

CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN (129 mins., R) Louis De Bernieres’ book-club favorite turned into a travel brochure: Pearl Harbor for the English Patient crowd. Directed, with no points for subtlety, by Shakespeare in Love’s John Madden, it features Nicolas Cage as an Italian captain who falls in love with a Greek maiden (Penelope Cruz). Both actors are so prone to conveying dampness when they aim for smolder that the passion between them is indistinguishable from the affection the captain shows for his mandolin. C (#610/611, Aug. 24/31) — LS

THE CURSE OF THE JADE SCORPION (103 mins., PG-13) Woody Allen’s latest is a boutique trifle that wears its confectionary ”smallness” on its lapel. Set in 1940, the movie, which fuses hypnosis, thievery, and romance, stars Allen as CW, a hard-boiled insurance investigator, and Helen Hunt as Betty Ann, a beautiful efficiency expert. When these two engage in flirtatious, His Girl Friday-style spitball comedy, all we see is a couple of characters who look as if they truly hate each other. C (#610/611, Aug. 24/31) — OG

JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (104 mins., R) Most movie wiseacres perform. Jason Mewes exists, and that’s his unruly glory. As Jay, one half of the cheerfully blasphemous revue team of Jay and Silent Bob, who have had roles in every Kevin Smith film, Mewes proves that he can carry a star vehicle with his stoned solipsism, his baby-talk thug stance. The movie itself starts out wobbly, then gathers comic momentum. Smith crams the screen like a pinata with in-jokes, parodies, drooler references, and star cameos, and by the time he reaches the Miramax backlot, the belly laughs erupt. It’s a long way from that Quick Stop, and Mewes, for one, looks as if he dug the trip. B (#612/613, Sept. 7) — OG

JEEPERS CREEPERS (90 mins., R) The first half hour taps a mood that can only be described as Texas Chain Saw nostalgia. Before long, though, the movie turns into a grab-bag freak show as desperate as it is arbitrary. There’s a flesh-eating killer who looks like a rather sorry cross between Alien, Leprechaun, Freddy Krueger, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He’s about as scary as a rubber action toy. C- (#612/613, Sept. 7) — OG

JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS (98 mins., R) In ’80s Cheez Whiz treats like Big Trouble in Little China, the auteur’s amateurishness seemed a badge of his unpretentious integrity. Now, in the barely coherent story of a 22nd-century cop (Natasha Henstridge) fighting blood-drooling zombies on the red planet, it just feels like incompetence. C- (#612/613, Sept. 7) — BF

O (91 mins., R) Doing a Shakespeare play without the pesky inconvenience of Shakespeare’s language sounds a bit like trying to drive a car without gasoline. To an extraordinary degree, though, O, in transposing Othello to an elite Charleston, S.C., prep school, gets the tragic Shakespearean mood, that somber stentorian passion born of hidden slivers of ambition and betrayal. Mekhi Phifer as the charismatic yet secretly vulnerable basketball star Odin, Julia Stiles as his ardent girlfriend Desi, Josh Hartnett as the weak and bitter Hugo, who tries to bust their relationship apart — all three perform with a liquid contempo naturalism that’s as intimate as it is unforced. The racial politics, though, are a little dicey. Odin is turned into a junior O.J. Simpson, a young black man whose civilized facade is merely cover for an intrinsic and bottomless rage. B+ (#612/613, Sept. 7) — OG

THE OTHERS (104 mins., PG-13) A skittery haunted-house thriller starring Nicole Kidman, at her icy best, as a very frightened woman with two very spooky children in a Victorian mansion that looks as if it might contain more rooms than the palace of Versailles. The movie has a busy, throttling intensity that takes off from the elegant fury of Kidman, who’s like a Grace Kelly suffering from repressed hysteria. The old-dark-house gimmicks, however, are too arbitrary to tie together in a memorably haunting manner. B (#609, Aug. 17) — OG

THE PRINCESS DIARIES (115 mins., G) A gawky San Francisco teen (Anne Hathaway) morphs into a royal highness in this girl-empowering fairy tale from Garry Marshall, the director who made a fair lady of a hooker in Pretty Woman. This charming, if unnecessarily coronation-length, production gets the duckling-to-swan ambivalence just right, and Julie Andrews is used to anti-Poppins-ish perfection. B+ (#608, Aug. 10) — LS

RAT RACE (112 mins., PG-13) An acceleratingly funny caper in which a circus’ worth of performers with big-tent personalities work as a motley team, relaying the shtick to one another like a baton. The all-stops-out energy is all in the service of a nutty plot involving the competitive pursuit of $2 million. Directed by Jerry Zucker from an up-to-date script by Andy Breckman; the race participants include Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Lovitz, Whoopi Goldberg, and Breckin Meyer. B+ (#610/611, Aug. 24/31) — LS

RUSH HOUR 2 (88 mins., PG-13) Comic action hero Jackie Chan and active comic hero Chris Tucker reunite for more ah so!/yo, bro! adventures as a couple of cops — one from Hong Kong, the other an LAPD underachiever — who fill time between whizzy fights with bad guys by ragging on black and Asian differences. Coarser than the original. B- (#608, Aug. 10) — LS

SUMMER CATCH (102 mins., PG-13) Call it Damp Lukewarm American Summer. As a ”blue-collar” pitcher taking a shot at stardom in Cape Cod’s elite youth baseball league, Freddie Prinze Jr. has a look in his eye that is equal parts self-infatuation and boyish flash of fear. It’s a look that seems to ask, ”If this one isn’t a hit, am I going to go down as the new Judd Nelson?” C (#612/613, Sept. 7) — OG

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