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Slate's Summary Judgment: 'Doom,' 'North Country,' 'Shopgirl'


This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.

With the weekend fast approaching, we offer you our weekly digest of what critics are saying about the new movie releases as compiled by the online magazine Slate. Here's Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.


First up in wide release, we have the drama "North Country," directed by Niki Caro, who also made the art house hit "Whale Rider." Charlize Theron stars as a female miner who stands up against the old-boy network, and the true story is based on the nation's first ever class-action lawsuit for sexual harassment. Woo-hoo, a date movie!

(Soundbite of "North Country")

Unidentified Character: Oh, now you're the same as me.

Ms. CHARLIZE THERON (Actress): (As Josey Aimes) Oh, no, there's a few differences. You don't go to work scared of what they're going to write about you on the walls, of what kind of disgusting thing you might find in your locker. You don't gotta be scared that one of these days you'll come to work and get raped.

LEGAN: The nation's critics are split on this one. All cheer the fine acting, but the detractors agree with The Wall Street Journal, which finds it `a long, slow slog through what could have been, and should have been, a more absorbing story.' But The Dallas Morning News says that `"North Country" boasts a superb lead performance by Theron, and she receives poignant support from Frances McDormand and Sissy Spacek.' And Variety cheers, `Emotionally potent story told with great dignity.'

Next up in limited release, we have the comedy "Shopgirl." Based on his best-selling novella, Steve Martin stars as a lonely millionaire who falls for Claire Danes, a young department store clerk who also falls for a younger, poor guy. Ah, yes, the lonely millionaire. Now there's a specific demographic worth going after.

(Soundbite of "Shopgirl")

Mr. STEVE MARTIN (Actor): (As Ray Porter) Look, I know you can't be seeing chatting up customers, so why don't you just meet me Friday for dinner at 8:00. You don't even have to give me your phone number. You can just show up.

LEGAN: Most of the critics enjoyed the window shopping. The Los Angeles Times calls "Shopgirl" `smart, spare and understated.' The New York Times agrees: `An elegant and exquisitely tailored romantic comedy.' But the Hollywood Reporter shrugs, `Certainly has the goods, but it ultimately failed to make the sale.'

And we close with the wide release of the action-thriller "Doom," based on the legendary best-selling video game. Yes, that's right, those of you who are tired of cute penguins and Edward R. Murrow, don't you worry. Another violent video game has been adapted for the screen! The Rock leads a team of elite space Marines who must go to Mars and battle armies of mutants.

(Soundbite of "Doom")

THE ROCK (Actor): (As Sarge) Pinkie!

Unidentified Character: Yes, Sarge?

THE ROCK: (As Sarge) Anything gets through that door, use an ST grenade. It cannot get back to Earth!

LEGAN: Teen-aged boys and video gamers probably won't peruse the reviews, but the nation's critics refuse to play along. The Washington Post frowns, `A good movie version of a video game, as opposed to, say, an actual movie.' Newsday gripes, `Imagine all four "Alien" movies compacted, boiled in chicken fat, and then pumped with steroids.' And The Dallas Morning News offers this slight praise: `It ain't Shakespeare, but it's not bad.' Oh. Oh, it's not Shakespeare? Oh, thank God. I wouldn't want to confuse "Doom's" plot with that of, oh, "Henry V"--you know, where young Prince Hal conquers Martian mutants. Or is that France? I always confuse the two.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan, a writer and noted Shakespeare expert living in Los Angeles.

DAY TO DAY returns in just a moment. I'm Alex Chadwick. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan
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