Tabulations are based on an exit poll averaging at least 300 film-goers per movie. Viewers rate the movie between 1 and 4 stars. "Audience Approval" is the percent who gave the film either 3 1/2 or 4 stars.
"Circle of Friends": Three friends growing up in 1957 Ireland deal with the sexual mores and trials of relationships. Popular Chris O'Donnell falls for large and proud Minnie Driver. Predictable, yes. Enchanting, pure and rewarding, yes. An excellent, satisfying love story with lush settings and wonderful music. Movie-goers said: "Sweet, lovely, gentle love story," "Refreshing to see a film based on innocence" and "The kind of film where the scenery and acting enhance it so much."
"Dolores Claiborne": Films like "Misery," "Stand by Me" and "The Shawshank Redemption" (which is still in theaters and received a must-see rating) deftly draw an audience into the story, and this film is no exception. Kathy Bates is suspected of killing her rich employer via a sleigh ride down a flight of stairs. Eighteen years earlier she was a suspect in her abusive husband's death via a similarly perilous sleigh ride, this time down a well shaft. When daughter Jennifer Jason Leigh returns home to be with Mom, a haunting atmosphere is triggered through flashbacks. Viewers said: "Deeply engrossing, the kind of film you can really get into," "Got more complicated as it went on. Not at all predictable," and "Bates and Leigh took a good story and made it sensational." (Buffalo News Critic Jeff Simon: "An unusually sordid but well-acted and visually extraordinary yarn from Stephen King country." He gave it 4 of 5 stars.)
"Major Payne": Damon Wayans is a Marine forced to train a bunch of flunky junior ROTC cadets. A surprising sleeper of a comedy. Viewers said: "Funny (many)," "The story was actually pretty good." (Buffalo News reviewer Mary Kunz: "Damon Wayans plays an outrageous ROTC instructor in the latest comic take on an old plot: Mean leader puts kids through the wringer but gives them self-respect." She gave it 2 1/2 stars.)
"Muriel's Wedding": Unattractive and pudgy, Toni Collette dreams of her wedding day while she remains the brunt of ridicule from friends. Meeting Rachel Griffith sets her on the right course. Different. Viewers said: "It shows you don't have to be married to be worthwhile," and "Depressing, but funny." (Jeff Simon: "A very crude but ultimately touching and winning Australian comedy that tries to be the Aussie 'Georgie Girl' and doesn't quite make it." He gave it 3 stars.)
"Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill": This Disney confection tells of young Nick Stahl calling on Pecos Bill (Patrick Swayze), Paul Bunyan and John Henry to help save the farm. Movie-goers said: "Disney just knows how to make an adventure that everyone in the family will love." (Buffalo News reviewer Scott Thomas: "The exploits of Paul Bunyan, John Henry and the good-guy gunslinger Pecos Bill brought to life for a 12-year-old boy." He gave it 3 stars.)