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Movie Guide

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Sex/Nudity: A few instances of innuendo. Violence: 9 scenes, including shootings. Profanity: 3 mild expressions. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.

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Death to Smoochy (R)

Director Danny DeVito. With Robin Williams, Edward Norton, DeVito. (100 min.)

Sterritt *** Producers replace a bribe-taking TV clown with a straight-arrow entertainer (Norton) who's shocked by the onslaughts of greed, corruption, and violence he gets from his agent (DeVito) and everyone else in the kiddie-media world. This pitch-dark satire marks a surprising career step for Williams, who plays the vengeful clown with surprising ferocity. It's also an impressive achievement for DeVito, who turns the wildly cynical screenplay into a kinetic cartoon full of brain-spinning images. Stay away if you treasure the lovable image Williams has cultivated in previous films, and don't take the kids!

High Crimes (PG-13)

Director: Carl Franklin. With Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Amanda Peet, Jim Cavaziel. (115 min.)

Sterritt ** When her husband is charged with a wartime atrocity he never told her about and says he never committed, an attorney (Judd) teams with an old-time military lawyer to clear his name, encountering violent threats from forces that want to hush up the affair. The story has possibilities, but you'll spot the big plot twists long before they happen, and the acting by Judd and Cavaziel is strictly by the numbers. Ditto for Franklin's filmmaking.

Staff ** Vacuous, likable cast, gripping, formulaic.

Sex/Nudity: 7 instances of innuendo, including a few scenes implied sex. Violence: 13 instances. Profanity: 29 harsh expressions. Drugs: 16 scenes of drinking, smoking.

National Lampoon's Van Wilder (R)

Director: Walt Becker. With Ryan Reynolds, Tara Reid, Kal Penn. (95 min.)

Staff * Van (Reynolds) loves being big man on campus so much he's been an undergraduate for nearly seven years. Truth is, he's afraid to try his people skills in the real world. What shakes him out of it is a serious-minded journalism major (Reid) trying to crown her college career with a story on him. What could've been an off-the-wall comedy with a soft center collapses under its own excesses as these two – out of character – hatch obscene revenge plots against her vacuous pre-med boyfriend. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 48 instances, innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 5 instances. Profanity: About 30 harsh expressions. Drugs: 13 scenes with drinking and smoking, including 1 instance drug use.

Panic Room (R)

Director: David Fincher. With Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Kristen Stewart. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** A woman and her young daughter scurry to a bunkerlike sanctum when three crooks invade their new Manhattan home to steal a fortune that happens to be locked away in the panic room itself. This is a minimalist thriller, centering the action on five characters in one place during a single three-hour period. Also present is Fincher's long-standing affection for hyperactive camera movements, juicing up any scene where the acting or dialogue sags. There are many, since David Koepp's screenplay isn't nearly surprising or clever enough to sustain a reasonable degree of suspense on its own.

Staff **1/2Nail-biter, intense, goofy at times.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 instances, some quite violent. Profanity: About 60 expressions, mostly harsh. Drugs: 6 scenes with drinking, smoking, including illegal drug use.

The Rookie (G)

Director: John Lee Hancock. With Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Brian Cox. (129 min.)

Staff ***1/2 Quaid plays a teacher-turned-Major League Baseball player in this Disney movie based on the true story of Jim Morris. While coaching another losing season of high school baseball, Morris cuts a deal: If his players start winning, he'll try out for the majors. By now an aging father, Morris defies skeptics with his uncanny 95-m.p.h. fastball. For adults who believe G stands for "goofy," Quaid's intense performance will convince them to take this film seriously. By Ben Arnoldy

Showtime (PG-13)

Director: Tom Dey. With Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy, Rene Russo, Drena De Niro. (95 min.)

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