The X-Files: I Want to Believe

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Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. 104 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The truth is still out there, like an unsold lawn chair at a garage sale, in this just plain lousy second big-screen outing for erstwhile FBI agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Since we last saw them, she's become a doctor in a Catholic hospital, he a bearded recluse. (But rest assured, fans, they're still each other's main squeeze.) Considerably more meager in its ambitions than 1998's epic-scaled, junkily entertaining Fight the Future, I Want to Believe sees our dynamic duo re-enlisted by their former employer to aid with ... alien life forms? Some strange, inexplicable phenomenon? No, just an abducted agent and the convicted pedophile turned self-proclaimed psychic (Billy Connolly) who says he has visions of her whereabouts. But what series creator Chris Carter (who directed I Want to Believe) and longtime show-runner Frank Spotnitz (who co-wrote and produced) lack in plot-churning gusto, they try to make up for in ill-advised stabs at social relevancy, cramming in references to gay marriage, stem-cell research, and (of course) our reigning commander in chief that are more laughable than provocative. It remains a pleasure simply to see Anderson, one of the best and most chronically underemployed American actresses, doing anything on-screen. But long before I Want to Believe reaches its anticlimax, you too might be having visions — of the exit sign.

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