Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field and Luke Wilson. Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld.
Running Time: 95 mins
Rated: PG

Reese Witherspoon was such a success in the original as Elle Wood, the seeming Barbie doll incarnate who confounded everyone by getting into Harvard and then winning her legal cases with a mixture of ingenuous charm and luck, that she has returned. The first film was such a surprise, that it is hard to re-capture its freshness. However, the film-makers have had a pleasing stab at it that will have the critics saying that initial success cannot be repeated and audiences saying that, while it is not startling, it is an enjoyable show.

Elle now takes on Washington after she hires a private detective to find out the lineage of her dog - and, horror or horrors, mother is part of an animal testing company. What better than have anti cruelty to animals legislation (which, while funny in its singlemindedness on a single issue, makes one wonder why animal rights get more sentimental support than human rights)? Elle is thwarted by those who want the status quo. She is undermined by her heroine, a Congresswoman played by Sally Field. However, she wins over crusty politicians from both parties, exudes innocently shrewd sweetness, is helped by kindly doorman, Bob Newhart, and follows James Stewart's footsteps (as Goldie Hawn did in Protocol) like Mr Smith Goes to Washington.

There are some daffy situations and quite a lot of well-delivered one-liners that keep a smile on the face as one watches Reese Witherspoon's ultra self-confidence in disbelief.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is the International President of SIGNIS: the World Association for Catholic Communications and an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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