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Courteney Cox — the one with the hit: When Scream was released, last December, Cox became the first cast member of Friends to appear in a watch-able movie. The box office conferred another record: Cox is the first friend with a blockbuster. This low-budget thriller, in which Cox broke from sweet Monica to play (smashingly) a driven, sluttish TV reporter, made such a bundle ($86 million) that Miramax re-released the scare flick on April 11 to squeeze more out of that golden goose. Scream isn’t Cox’s first hit — she did Ace Ventura: Pet Detective with Jim Carrey, but that was BF (Before Friends). The Alabama-born Cox, 32, made her mark by cutting up with Bruce Springsteen in his “Dancing in the Dark” video and making out with Michael J. Fox on Family Ties, but her BF film career has been dogged by dogs, such as Masters of the Universe, Cocoon: The Return and, woof, Mr. Destiny.

Cox’s follow-up to Scream is Commandments, a tragicomic mess with a mystical reach that far exceeds the grasp of director Daniel Taplitz, who also wrote The Squeeze, a Michael Keaton clunker. Cox plays Rachel, a chic careerist who alleviates the sterility of her marriage to rich Harry (Anthony LaPaglia) by having sex with her broke brother-in-law, Seth (Aidan Quinn), who winds up in the belly of a whale for a Jonah-like finale. See, Seth hates God for taking away his wife and job, so he’s been breaking the Ten Commandments one by one. Rachel is the neighbor’s wife he covets.

Cox ought to be madder than Seth. The men act their butts off while she mopes around looking lovely and listless. In Scream, veteran director Wes Craven found the fire in a mannequin. In Commandments, the TV-trained Taplitz never cracks his star’s glossy veneer. For Cox, it’s a career setback.

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