This weekend Scream 3 outperformed the other nine movies in the top ten combined, thanks in part to playing on a record 3,467 screens, which allowed most everyone who wanted a ticket to buy one. Many critics claimed the horror series had run out of creative steam, but fans nevertheless wanted to know how the trilogy ended.

Scream 3 ($34.7 million)

The few available Christian reviews, however, were only mildly critical of the campy slasher sequel. The series, which has always revolved around the question of how much art reflects life and life imitates art, adds another layer by moving the action to Hollywood where actors playing victims in a horror movie are being killed for real. The Movie Reporter's Phil Boatwright said Scream 3 achieved its goals of being "scary [and] funny," even if it's also quite crude. Paul Bicking of Preview warns there's enough "knife slashing and stabbing to satisfy the genre," but adds that it's "less gory than expected." The U.S. Catholic Conference was not so lenient, calling it a "horrific blood bath" and "a mindless unreeling of mayhem and gore." Mainstream reviews were more concerned with the movie's tedium: Tom Maurstad of The Dallas Morning News quips that "Scream 3 is full of surprises … it's surprisingly long, surprisingly dull and surprisingly stupid." Jack Garner of The Rochester Chronicle pins the blame on "a key mistake that was successfully sidestepped by its predecessors: It takes itself seriously."

The Hurricane ($4.9 million)

This week brought more glowing reviews for the inspirational story of Rubin Carter's eventual release from wrongful imprisonment. The U.S. Catholic Conference says this "study of institutionalized racism" is noteworthy for how the jailed Carter "spiritually transcends his confines." World finds in it the uplifting message that "hope can be found even in horrible situations." Childcare Action was impressed by the selfless dedication of those committed to seeing Carter freed, calling it "a very touching presentation of courage and dedication for the right reasons. … It was about true love—the non-physical kind."

Stuart Little ($4.7 million)

This family favorite is still performing strong, and looks likely to join 1999's ten biggest moneymakers before the end of its run. No new reviews are available this week, so visit our previous editions of Film Forum on Dec. 30, Jan. 12, and Jan. 26 for details of the enthusiastic Christian response.

Next Friday ($4.3 million)

Bad reviews continue to pour in for Ice Cube's comedy sequel. World calls it "obnoxious," finding its "live fast, die young" philosophy lacking. Focus on the Family's Bob Walkiszewski says the only positive element he detects is the heroism of the police force, which is "ironic from a writer who helped popularize such anti-law enforcement songs as 'F—the Police.'"

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Eye of the Beholder ($4.2 million)

Falling quickly from the number one slot last week, Eye of the Beholder is suffering from bad word of mouth and even worse reviews. (The U.S. Catholic Conference calls it a "trashy melodrama [that] is unintentionally laughable.") The story follows an emotionally wounded British spy (Ewan McGregor) who becomes obsessed with a murderous femme fatale (Ashley Judd) he's tracking, but Movie Parables says this plot is lost amid heavy stylization: The "story is secondary (if not completely irrelevant) to the manner in which it is told." Preview's Paul Bicking agrees, panning it as "all look and no substance. … Without sympathetic characters whose actions are tied to stronger motives, the audience is quickly lost." J. Robert Parks of The Phantom Tollbooth bemoans the wasted acting talent in the movie, especially in the choice to reduce Judd to a sex object. "Judd has little to do but change clothes (or not—in one instance, she runs out onto the street wearing nothing but underwear and a fur coat)." The Movie Reporter's Phil Boatwright was able to find a message in the movie, even though he didn't feel it worth wading through the R-rated content to discover: "It makes a statement about how one can become psychologically unsound by shutting oneself off from society, and filling your existence with nothing but high tech gadgetry."

Rounding Out the Top Ten

The Green Mile remains an audience favorite after more than two months, taking the sixth spot this week. A new review from Gene Breitenbach of WindWords highly recommends the film, describing how the character of John Coffey, a childlike miracle worker, reflects the lives of the prophets and Jesus. "A blessing of God is not always a joy for the one who delivers the blessing. Prophets are misunderstood and sometimes hated for the gift they bring. … Even Jesus had to pay a great price for his life of love." Previous reviews have been divided between those who have understood Coffey's miracles as God-given, and those who thought that he was representative of a murky, feel-good spiritualism.Galaxy Quest returns to the seventh spot for the first time since it opened quietly in that spot two months ago, before it became a word-of-mouth hit.

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More good words come this week from Jeffrey Overstreet of Green Lake Reflections, who calls it "a solid, consistently funny, creative, visually impressive sci-fi spoof that stands out from other spoofs because it manages to balance silliness with sincerity." This sincere approach captures the optimism of the Star Trek fan. "Legendary heroes like these may be absurdly idealistic to grownups, but for viewers with enough imagination and childlike enthusiasm, they can be an inspiration." But PlanetWisdom thought the sincerity was a liability rather than an asset: "At first, it seemed to be making a good point about the patheticness of living in a TV fantasy world. … But, eventually, the movie itself turns into kind of a celebration of the campy sci-fi series."

Eighth-place finisher Down to You received another round of stinging reviews this week. The romantic comedy, which charts the on-again off-again relationship of a college-age couple, was found by reviewers to be neither romantic nor comedic: "Many of [the] characters are little more than rutting animals," writes Bob Smithouser of Focus on the Family. "It tries to be sweet, inspired and romantic at the same time, [but] sugar-coats reality by ignoring the couple's problems." World agrees, calling it a "dull comedy" preaching that "romance conquers all." Childcare Action heard the sermon somewhat differently, distilling the equally faulty message "youth=sex + booze."

Christian Spotlight is offering a knowledgeable review of ninth-place finisher Girl, Interrupted, which chronicles author Susanna Kaysen's stay in a mental hospital in the '70s. Guest reviewer Bob MacLean has "worked in the emergency room and the counseling room and seen all kinds of abuse that people heap on their own flesh and blood on a regular basis," and from this vantage point he can "recommend this film to those who have and can deal with life's underbelly." MacLean says the film's profanity, which was a problem for several other reviewers, is a reality of helping the less fortunate. "Having worked with needy people, these words come with the territory so it's up to you to endure them." For MacLean, the power of the film is how "it painfully reminds us how we all participate to cause our culture to force young people into and over the brink … [which raises] some very basic questions about how you are fulfilling Christ's commission not just to evangelize but to LOVE the world."

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The serial-killer drama The Talented Mr. Ripley barely held on to the tenth spot this week, but could experience a resurgence next week when the Oscar nominations are announced if the film received several nods as expected. A new Christian review from Movies & Ministry this week certainly adds to the acclaim; editor Doug Cummings recommends Mr. Ripley as a depiction of "the psychological turmoil that our materialistic society often produces and illustrates the failure of external routes to inner healing." While many earlier reviews have cited Tom Ripley's immorality as a reason to avoid the movie, Cummings expresses sympathy for this "tragic figure who never realizes that personal transformation doesn't lie through deception and denial, but through the yearnings of his lost, neglected soul."

Steve Lansingh is editor of, a weekly Internet magazine devoted to Christianity and the cinema.