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The Movies

The top 5 movies in popularity as measured by box office receipts for the weekend of May 21

Dinosaur

$38.9 million

1 week in release

$38.9 million to date

CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO

Voices of D.B. Sweeney, Ossie Davis / Eric Leighton and Ralph Zondag / Disney

PLOT

A young dinosaur and a pack of lemurs search for a new home after a meteor destroys their habitat.

MESSAGE

Everybody matters in in society. The old, frail, and weak still deserve help.

CAUTION

Rated PG for animal violence.

Gladiator

$19.7 million

3 weeks in release

$103.1 million to date

CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO

Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix / Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) / Dreamworks

PLOT

A Roman general becomes a gladiator to avenge his family's murder.

MESSAGE

Stoicism has its virtues. Heroes must risk everything to defeat their enemies.

CAUTION

Rated R for violence.

Road Trip

$15.5 million

1 week in release

$15.5 million to date

CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO

Breckin Meyer, Sean William Scott / Todd Phillips / Dreamworks

PLOT

Tasteless teen exploitation film about a bunch of sex-obsessed college students driving cross-country.

MESSAGE

Nihilism; all behavior is excusable if you're young and mischievous.

CAUTION

Rated R for nudity, sexual situations, and bad language.

U-571

$4.6 million

5 weeks in release

$64.4 million to date

CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO

Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton / Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown) / Universal Pictures

PLOT

WWII submarine drama about an American crew trying to grab a top-secret coding device from a German U-boat.

MESSAGE

War takes ordinary men and makes them do amazing things.

CAUTION

Rated PG-13 for violence and bad language.

Frequency

$4.3 million

4 weeks in release

$30.4 million to date

CAST / DIRECTOR / STUDIO

Dennis Quaid, James Caviezel / Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear) / New Line Cinema

PLOT

A cop uses an old ham radio to talk to his firefighting father 30 years in the past and warn him of his impending death.

MESSAGE

Changing the past changes the future in ways you can't anticipate.

CAUTION

Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing images.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Who can resist dinosaurs? They're big, scary, mysterious, and easy fare for cinematic spectacle. Small wonder Disney gave us Dinosaur (PG for animal violence), an expensive, uneven computer-generated prehistoric fantasy. The movie opens with great images of reptilian scenery, then promptly goes downhill. A baby dinosaur named Aladar is raised by a group of lemurs before a crashing meteor destroys their home. So they go off on a quest for a new place to live. The group joins up with a herd of dinosaurs on a long trek to find new nesting grounds. By this time the movie has become much darker and tedious. The journey is long and water is scarce-and dinosaurs that stumble along the way are left for dead. So Aladar speaks up for the slower members in the back of the pack, giving this movie an "everybody matters" message. Dinosaur is 180 degrees from A Bug's Life, missing the cheer of Disney's usual animated fare. Thankfully, Disney also left out the dippy faux-Broadway music numbers. The studio clearly thought it had an easy formula for success and stumbled along the way. This movie could have (should have) been much, much better.