Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
Barbershop 2 (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan. With Ice Cube, Eve, Michael Ealy, Queen Latifah. (98 min.)

Staff **1/2 The crew from the original Barbershop comes back to cut hair, only this time a national chain is trying to shut them down. Sullivan brings forth a narrative that buzzes with energy and sharpness and the actors perform their lines with an earthy vigor, but the film's bare-boned script and mawkish ending keep it from achieving 'shear' brilliance. By Brad Rosenberg

Catch that Kid (PG)

Director: Bart Freundlich. With Kristen Stewart, Corbin Bleu, Max Thieriot, Jennifer Beals. (92 min.)

Recommended: Default

Sterritt ** As her father lies ill, a young girl asks two of her preteen pals to get on their go-karts and help her steal a pile of money to pay medical bills - from the same bank where her mother is installing a new security system. There's a little humor, a little suspense, and not a hint of reality. You'll tune out quickly, unless you're 11.

The Dreamers (NC-17)

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci. With Michael Pitt, Eva Green. (112 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Hiding and Seeking: Faith and Tolerance After the Holocaust (Not Rated)

Director: Menachem Daum, Oren Rudavsky. With Menachem Daum, residents of Israel and Poland. (87 min.)

Sterritt ** Daum travels to Poland with his wife and their skeptical sons in this documentary, hoping to prove that people who are not Orthodox Jews like them are worthy of attention and compassion, even when they live in countries that tolerated Holocaust suffering. In English, Yiddish, and Polish with English subtitles.

Miracle (PG)

Director: Gavin O'Connor. With Kurt Russell, Patrick O'Brien, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich. (136 min.)

Sterritt ** See review.

Osama (PG-13)

Director: Siddiq Barmak. With Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati, Zubaida Sahar, Mohamad Haref Harati. (82 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

The Return (NR)

Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev. With Ivan Dobronravov, Vladimir Garin, Natalya Vdovina. (106 min.)

Sterritt **** See review.

The Trilogy: An Amazing Couple (NR)

Director: Lucas Belvaux. With Ornella Muti, François Morel, Gilbert Melki, Lucas Belvaux. (100 min.)

Sterritt ** The middle movie in Belvaux's three-part series - between "On the Run" and "After the Life" - is a mildly amusing comedy portraying two Belgian couples spying on each other. The mixture of humor, suspense, and ominous undertones is effective but rarely inspired. In French with English subtitles.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Along Came Polly (PG-13)

Director: John Hamburg. With Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Debra Messing. (90 min.)

Sterritt * A neurotically cautious man (Stiller) gets cheated on by his wife (Messing) during their honeymoon, whereupon he inexplicably starts chasing a woman (Aniston) whose life philosophy is the opposite of his. If you can swallow that premise, you may be able to tolerate the crass humor and weak acting.

The Big Bounce (PG-13)

Director: George Armitage. With Owen Wilson, Morgan Freeman, Sara Foster, Charlie Sheen. (82 min.)

Sterritt *** Planning to go straight, a likable con artist takes a job tending a resort owned by a Hawaiian judge, eyes a pretty woman who seems interested in him, and finds himself involved in a new scam that could land him in plenty of trouble. The story is no deeper than the shallow end of a Honolulu swimming pool, and eventually it stops making sense at all. Wilson and Freeman are fun to watch, though, as is the eye-popping Hawaiian scenery.

Staff *1/2 Nonchalant pacing, no dramatic tension, skip it.

Sex/Nudity: 5 scenes with brief nudity, 7 instances of innuendo. Violence: 5 scenes. Profanity: 51 instances. Drugs: 13 scenes with drinking, 6 scenes with smoking.

Big Fish (PG-13)

Director: Tim Burton. With Albert Finney, Jessica Lange, Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup, Alison Lohman. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** A young man (McGregor) tries to understand the life of his estranged, now dying father (Finney) by sifting grains of truth from the mountains of tall tales the old guy was forever telling. Burton spices up the story with his trademarked surrealism, but it's swamped by the sentimentality of John August's screenplay.

Staff *** Shallow story, bizarre at times, longish.

Sex/Nudity: 3 innuendoes, 2 scenes of brief nudity. Violence: 4 scenes, including a fight. Profanity: 9 instances. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking, 4 scenes of smoking.

The Butterfly Effect (R)

Directors: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress. With Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Eric Stoltz. (113 min.)

Sterritt * A troubled young man gradually learns he's been traveling back in time, inhabiting his body in earlier stages of his life and altering events in ways that befuddle him when he returns to a present that's changed in ways he didn't expect. The premise is promising, nodding to Ray Bradbury's classic story "A Sound of Thunder," among others. Too bad the screenplay is as confused as the hero.

Cold Mountain (R)

Director: Anthony Minghella. With Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renée Zellweger. (155 min.)

Sterritt ** Just as the Civil War is breaking out, a young couple fall in love, and the man (Law) deserts the Confederate army for a long trek home. The story builds melodramatic momentum, but is interrupted by episodes of suffering that smack more of sensationalism than candor. The fine cast is also misused.

Staff *** Poetic, book is better, Zellweger adds verve.

Sex/Nudity: 5 instances. Violence: 19 scenes. Profanity: 14 instances. Drugs: 5 scenes of drinking.

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (PG-13)

Director: Peter Jackson. With Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Liv Tyler. (301 min.)

Sterritt **The popular series comes to a close as Frodo and Sam struggle toward Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring in the fires where it was forged. This is one of the rare times when a trilogy's third chapter is the best of the bunch, thanks mostly to Gollum and the climactic battle scene.

Staff **** Incredible, stunning, built to last forever.

Sex/Nudity: None Violence: 97 scenes, including intense instances of battle gore. Profanity: None. Drugs: 2 scenes of drinking, 4 scenes with smoking.

The Perfect Score (PG-13)

Director: Brian Robbins. With Scarlett Johansson, Erika Christensen, Matthew Lillard. (93 min.)

Staff * Five high-schoolers conspire to steal SAT answers from the Princeton testing center with only a moderate amount of ability to ACT along the way. Writers Marc Hyman, Mark Schwahn, and Jon Zack must have done well on the math portion of their SATs, because they have no trouble locating the lowest common denominator and then catering to it. The film is not a Perfect Bore, however, as some legitimate points are (barely) raised about the drawbacks of the standardized testing system; but it still insults the intelligence of moviegoers. By Brad Rosenberg

Win a Date With Tad Hamilton (PG-13)

Director: Robert Luketic. With Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, Topher Grace, Nathan Lane. (96 min.)

Sterritt *** Rosalee is a West Virginia girl who wins a glamorous Hollywood evening with her favorite star, a fast-living hedonist who falls in love with her, dismaying his greedy agent and the shy supermarket manager who loves her. While the comedy doesn't pack many laughs, it has a sheer pleasantness that never quits.

Staff ** Topher Grace scores, perky, utterly unoriginal.

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 scene of comic violence. Profanity: 20 instances. Drugs: 11 scenes with alcohol, 5 with smoking.

You Got Served (PG-13)

Director: Christopher B. Stokes. With Marques Houston, Lil' Kim, Raz B, Steve Harvey. (93 min.)

Staff ** Hip-hop dance battles take the place of gang warfare in South Central L.A., as rival "crews" fight for choreographic and acrobatic dominance. The eye-popping originality and athleticism are crowd pleasers and almost make up for distracting camera tricks and the insipid "keep away from my sister" subplot. Good, clean fun - and loud. By M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of mild innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 13 instances. Drugs: 3 scenes with alcohol, 2 scenes with smoking.

OUT ON DVD
Secondhand Lions (PG)

Director: Tim McCanlies. With Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, and Haley Joel Osment. (110 min.)

Staff *** After his mother (Kyra Sedgwick) splits, Walter (Osment) finds himself left on a Texas ranch with no phone or TV in the care of two irascible great-uncles, whose idea of a good time is sitting on their front porch shooting at traveling salesmen. Then they start telling tales about their adventures in northern Africa. Duvall and Caine play terrifically off one another, and there's nothing secondhand about this family film. Don't look for incisive storytelling on the director's commentary. More revealing is the half-hour feature on the 10-year battle director McCanlies fought to get his movie made his way. The deleted scenes are an unexpected treat, providing laughs and the chance to spend more time with Caine's and Duvall's swashbuckling codgers. By Yvonne Zipp.

Lost in Translation (R)

Director: Sofia Coppola. With Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi, Anna Faris. (102 min.)

Staff ***1/2 Be warned, some of this Oscar-nominated film's intimate grandeur has been lost in transition from the big screen to DVD. In this low-key gem, Bill Murray plays a jaded movie star who flies to Japan to film a commercial, perhaps as an attempt to escape the torpor of his home life. There, he navigates the culture shock of Tokyo - where architecture seems comprised of neon and pixels - by befriending a young American woman who is lonely in her marriage. Most directors would tug a relationship of this nature toward the bedroom, but these characters realize that sex would only cheapen their unique bond. The extra features are pretty dull, apart from when Murray mugs for the camera or talks seriously with director Coppola. By Stephen Humphries

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