`Skulls' is boneheaded

March 31, 2000|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Virtually everything in "The Skulls" is bathed in natural light, coming from behind the characters and creating a haze so thick that it's a wonder the cast doesn't lapse into coughing fits. The few electric-light sources in the movie don't provide much illumination.

Thus, the movie provides an apt metaphor for itself: It's a dim bulb.

Our intrepid hero is Luke (Joshua Jackson of "Dawson's Creek"), a townie attending an Ivy League school with -- gasp! -- financial aid. But Luke is a pre-law student and a top-notch sculler, and this is apparently enough to merit him consideration for membership in the Skulls, a secret campus society.

When the society's secrecy results in a death, Luke begins to consider canceling his lifetime membership. Meanwhile, journalist buddy Will (Hill Harper) investigates.

With its forced melodrama and unintentional humor, "The Skulls" could have been a guilty pleasure. But director Rob Cohen drags it on about 20 minutes too long, getting more ridiculous, until the movie finally burns itself out.

The film is loosely based on Skull and Bones -- one of five well-known secret societies at Yale.

`The Skulls'

Starring Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker

Directed by Rob Cohen

Rated PG-13 (Violence, brief sexuality)

Running time 107 minutes

Released by Universal Pictures

Sun score * *

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