Opens Wed., July 7, at Metro and others
Was Guy Ritchie busy with Swept Away 2 or something? No matter. Who better to butcher—er, reconfigure—the Arthurian legend than Yankee schlock-action producer extraordinaire Jerry Bruckheimer and a bunch of handsomely hairy nobodies straight out of a Foster's commercial? Allegedly based on facts behind the myth, the film finds noble Arthur (Croupier's Clive Owen) and his pagan Round Table knights conscripted by Rome for 15 grueling years of military service, climaxing in an apparent suicide mission to save a young rising star of oppressive Christianity from the merciless, invading Saxon hordes. The knights are gregarious enough blokes, cracking wise about who really fathered whose bastards, then saving feral archer Guinevere (a surprisingly good Keira Knightley of Pirates of the Caribbean) from a torture chamber. Save for an improbable, inspired eight vs. 200 standoff on a precarious ice floe, Arthur ends up just another overlong, albeit passably amusing, Braveheart retread. (PG-13) ANDREW BONAZELLI
Opens Fri., July 9, at area theaters
The film begins with junior-high-school grad Julie (Alexa Vega of Spy Kids) lament‑ ing, "Life is just so predictable it kills me." Unfortunately, her all-female slumber party's transformation into a wacky late-night romp merits a similar complaint. Though some truth lies in the theme of young girls yearning to be part of an older in-crowd, the execution might convince an impressionable young-girl audience that hanging out at a bar and stealing Daddy's car are excusable at age 13. While it's sad when Julie tells a dateless senior tearing tickets at the door on prom night, "In four years I will be you unless I get into that dance," it becomes ludicrous when the senior is moved by Julie's concern. Accompanying their daughters to the show, parents nationwide will share the same reaction to the ridiculous preadolescent fantasy that is Sleepover: not another tween movie! (PG) EMILY PAGE
The Story of the Weeping Camel
Runs Fri., July 9–Thurs., July 15, at Varsity
Since Lawrence of Arabia, there haven't been enough camels in movies, and I'm not talking about a couple of paltry cameos in Ishtar or the Indiana Jones series. Who knew they were so photogenic? The double-humped Camelus bactrianus beasts star in this Mongolian co-production, and these dromedaries are indeed stars. It all starts with the hair—well, fur—in tones of red and brown that no Rodeo Drive stylist could possibly match. They also have great teeth, natural‑ ly white from chewing the brush of Mongolia's high plains. They're lithe, not lumbering, oddly graceful as they kneel and sway; their fatty humps shift and quiver from side to side when they walk—"like Jell-O on springs," as Tony Curtis said of Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. They have long eyelashes, and they even cry (hence the title). Best of all are their high-pitched voices: They whine and hum and moan with a plaintive tenor, almost birdlike in their chirps and snorts. No amount of CG magic could ever create such strangely majestic creatures (although the pen of Dr. Seuss could probably come close). Story's two main camels even get prominent billing in its credits: Ingen Temee is the dark-furred mother camel who rejects her newborn, the rare white-furred colt Botok.