Prinze Goes <I>Head Over Heels</I>

In at least one sense, Head Over Heels — that new movie debuting this weekend starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Monica Potter — is meant literally.

That's because Amanda Pierce (Potter) is the kind of klutz who tumbles down a flight of stairs, lands upright, and continues talking without missing a beat. She's between pratfalls one evening in the apartment she shares with four supermodels when she thinks she sees, a la Rear Window, her hunk neighbor, Jim Winston (Prinze), murder someone.

The central idea behind the plot of Head Over Heels — loved one as killer — certainly has been done before, in movies like The Witches of Eastwick and Prizzi's Honor. You can almost hear Pierce scream, "Do I marry him? Do I ice him?"

It seems a critical film for Prinze, who is mid-leap between teenage hunk and young leading man. One wonders if he can carry the menace and sophistication his part seems to require, though as he showed in She's All That, he certainly has the charm.

Yet it bodes well for the movie that Potter, who was last seen playing Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine's girlfriend in the gripping drama Without Limits, can play physical comedy so well, and she seems to do it without borrowing too heavily from anybody else. In the movie's previews she seems slightly stunned at her own awkwardness, like she's trapped in a body that she only occasionally controls. You'd think it would be fun to date a gorgeous woman whose body has a mind of its own, but with her, it probably just means you'll have to learn to be proficient with icepacks.

Head Over Heels is Director Mark S. Waters' follow-up to the bitingly surreal black comedy The House of Yes and it is rated PG-13.

Looking for a sweet, delicate, sensitive movie to celebrate Valentine's Day with? Then stay the heck away from Valentine. Not to imply that it is a bad movie — it may, in fact, be excellent — but it is a horror film, not a chick flick. It stars David Boreanaz as the killer, a guy avenging on Valentine's Day the humiliations he endured in college at the hands of four lovely classmates. Valentine co-stars the stunning Denise Richards (of James Bond fame), Jessica Capshaw, Marley Shelton and Katherine Heigl.

Like the late Stanley Kubrick and Michaelangelo Antonioni, Wim Wenders is one of those rare directors for whom most any actor will work. He's the guy who did the revisionist classics Paris, Texas and An American Friend, a director obsessed with exploring the emotional and psychological barriers people place between one another as they pursue or are swept aside by the American Dream.

Thus the plot of Million Dollar Hotel sounds pure Wenders: an FBI agent named Skinner (Mel Gibson) investigates the murder of rich heir Izzy Goldkiss (Tim Roth) found deain a run-down hotel inhabited by mental patients. Expect it to be more bizarre than it sounds, one of the most beautiful films of the year (Wenders' cinematography is always superb), and very ambiguous. The film co-stars Jeremy Davies (Upham in Saving Private Ryan), Milla Jovovich, Amanda Plummer, and Jimmy Smits and opens exclusively in New York and Los Angeles.

Interesting note: the movie is co-scripted by Bono of the mega-band U2, who also did the soundtrack.

The last entry of the week is The Invisible Circus, a thriller about a young woman (Jordana Brewster) circa 1977 who ventures to Europe to find out why her older hippie sister (Cameron Diaz) committed suicide. It looks like a druggie version of Heart of Darkness, Conrad's ageless metaphor about how a harrowing journey leads to a discovery of self, and might be of great interest for that reason. It is in release in selected cities around the country.

By Nick Sambides Jr