Movie Guide

NEW RELEASES
The Alamo (PG-13)

Director: John Lee Hancock. With Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric, Dennis Quaid, Emilio Echevarría. (136 min.)

Sterritt * See review.

The Blonds (Not rated)

Director: Albertina Carri. With Analía Couceyro, Jesica Suarez, Santiago Giralt, Albertina Carri. (89 min.)

Recommended: 'The Godfather': 10 behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the classic films

Sterritt **** This highly offbeat documentary focuses on the filmmaker's effort to find out the fate of her parents, who "disappeared" and probably were killed during Argentina's notorious "dirty war." What distinguishes the movie is its inventive, multifaceted way of questioning whether the "truth" of past events can ever be separated from the memories, longings, and scanty evidence that inextricably surrounds it. Highly recommended. Originally titled "Los Rubios."

Ella Enchanted (PG)

Director: Tommy O'Haver. With Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver. (95 min.)

Staff ** Fans of Gail Carson Levine will find little of her charming book in this big-screen version of the Cinderella tale. What does remain is Levine's clever twist: a curse of obedience that requires Ella to do everything that's asked of her. "Ella" has energy enough, and will probably appeal to tweens, but adds too many gimmicks to a story that had plenty going for it already. By Kim Campbell

The Girl Next Door (R)

Director: Luke Greenfield. With Emile Hirsch, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Olyphant, James Remar. (110 min.)

Sterritt ** A porn actress (Cuthbert) moves in next door to a geeky high-school student (Hirsch) who needs to loosen up a bit, and after many misadventures they affect each other's lives for the better. Olyphant steals the show as a cheeky porn producer. The rest is gimmicky and predictable, except for a clever surprise near the end.

I'm Not Scared (R)

Director: Gabriele Salvatores. With Mattia Di Pierro, Giuseppe Cristiano, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon. (108 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

Mayor of the Sunset Strip (R)

Director: George Hickenlooper. With Rodney Bingenheimer, Pamela Des Barres, Courtney Love. (94 min.)

Sterritt **** So shy and bland that you want to cuddle him, Bingenheimer was famous for 15 minutes as a rock-scene fellow traveler in the '60s, and drew ongoing acclaim for his ability to discover wild new bands via his Los Angeles radio show. But his zero-level charisma quotient worked against him, and he ended up with a late-night broadcast that younger listeners found woefully out of touch. Hickenlooper's poignant documentary portrays him as a sort of recessive Andy Warhol type whose very ordinariness became a blank screen for others to project their fantasies upon. Like its star, it's quietly sincere and compulsively watchable.

Twentynine Palms (R)

Director: Bruno Dumont. With David Wissak, Yekaterina Golubeva. (119 min.)

Sterritt *** See review.

The Whole Ten Yards (PG-13)

Director: Howard Deutsch. With Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge. (97 min.)

Sterritt * Strenuously unfunny sequel to the 2000 hit "The Whole Nine Yards," about a suburban dentist mixed up with a mobster who's moved into the neighborhood to evade his enemies. Kevin Pollak has some spunk as a Hungarian gang boss. The rest is unredeemed inanity.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
Hellboy (PG-13)

Director: Guillermo Del Toro. With Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Jeffrey Tambor. (122 min.)

Sterritt *** Yet another troubled superhero fights the forces of darkness, and he's just right for the job, since humans snatched him from an evil dimension when he was a baby. The first half is high-tech action; the second hour has marvelous moments, especially when the lumbering hero moons over his ambivalent girlfriend and undertakes a dangerous mission with a government agent who doesn't like him one bit. The screenplay has flashes of real wit, and Perlman is perfect in the title role.

Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 26 instances of intense violence. Profanity: 26 instances, mostly mild. Drugs: 12 instances.

Home on the Range (PG)

Directors: Will Finn, John Sanford. With voices of Judi Dench, Roseanne Barr, Cuba Gooding Jr. (76 min.)

Sterritt *** A money-hungry villain wants to take over an old-fashioned dairy farm, and a nervy cow organizes fellow animals to save the day. Old-style animation slows down after a snappy start, but it's lively enough to keep kids from fidgeting too much.

Staff *** Delightful, fresh, great songs.

Sex/Nudity: 2 mild instances. Violence: 10 scenes. Drugs: 1 scene with drinking.

Jersey Girl (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Smith. With Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Liv Tyler, Raquel Castro, Jennifer Lopez. (102 min.)

Staff ** Ollie Trinke (Affleck), a public-relations executive in Manhattan, has a child on the way. But when his beautiful wife (Lopez) dies in the delivery room, Ollie is forced to move in with his father (Carlin) in New Jersey. He takes up a job as a street sweeper but longs to return to the big city. Comical scenes include a Matt Damon cameo and a school performance of "Sweeney Todd." It's no life-changing movie, but it serves up some tender moments. By Lisa Connors

Staff **1/2 Funny, well acted, predictable.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 1 scene of a mother's death during labor. Profanity: 12 instances. Drugs: 18 scenes with drinking or smoking.

The Ladykillers (R)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. With Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons. (104 min.)

Sterritt ** This remake of the classic 1955 comedy focuses on a criminal who rents a room in a sleepy Mississippi town and assembles a team to steal a stash of cash from a local casino - unless his feisty landlady catches on. Hanks and Hall are excellent, but all characters are crude stereotypes - insulting to the audience when the savvy Coen brothers expect us to laugh at coarse and unoriginal caricatures.

Staff **1/2 Well casted, amusing, long.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instance of innuendo. Violence: 12 instances. Profanity: 110 instances of strong language. Drugs: 16 scenes with drinking or smoking.

The Passion of the Christ (R)

Director: Mel Gibson. With Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci, Sergio Rubini, Maia Morgenstern. (127 min.)

Sterritt ** An excruciatingly violent reenactment of Jesus' crucifixion. Gibson pays morbid attention to every gory detail. Technically, the picture is strong, thanks to Caleb Deschanel's camera work and Caviezel's relentlessly focused acting. In Aramaic, Hebrew, and Latin with English subtitles.

Staff **1/2 Brutal, excruciatingly detailed violence.

Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of nudity. Violence: 24 scenes of intense violence that are inappropriate for children. Profanity: No instances. Drugs: 4 scenes with drinking wine.

The Prince & Me (PG)

Director: Martha Coolidge. With Julia Stiles, Luke Mably, Miranda Richardson, James Fox. (111 min.)

An ordinary Midwestern student works at getting good grades and dreams of going to medical school - until she meets an enticing guy who's really the Prince of Denmark, visiting her college incognito under the notion that Wisconsin girls are the liveliest the US has to offer. The story has a few telling twists, especially when our heroine moves to Denmark and confronts the skepticism of the current King and Queen, but its best asset is from-the-heart acting by a lively cast under Coolidge's cool, calm directing.

Staff **1/2 Charming, handsome, should be PG-13.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 2 scenes. Profanity: 7 mild instances. Drugs: 6 scenes with alcohol.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG)

Director: Raja Gosnell. With Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard. (88 min.)

Staff *1/2 A demented mastermind resuscitates monsters from the first film and the gang from Mystery Inc. must put them all down again. Lively performances and special effects add to the nostalgia, but it's much ado about very little. By M. K. Terrell

Staff ** Loud, fast, inappropriate for small children.

Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 instances, mostly mild. Profanity: 1 instance. Drugs: 2 scenes with smoking and drinking, 1 scene with inhaling gas.

Walking Tall (PG-13)

Director: Kevin Bray. With The Rock, Johnny Knoxville, Neal McDonough, Barbara Tarbuck. (87 min.)

Sterritt ** Remake of the popular 1973 vigilante movie, focusing on a he-man who returns to his home town after leaving the army, discovers the place is controlled by a corrupt sheriff and a drug-dealing casino owner, and decides to straighten things out by picking up a big stick and walloping the bad folks into submission. Good of its B-movie kind if you can overlook its Neanderthal ideology, which is about as easy as overlooking The Rock, which is impossible.

Staff ** Entertaining, over the top, great fight scenes.

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 9 instances, including brutal fighting and use of firearms. Profanity: 17 harsh instances. Drugs: 5 scenes with smoking, 4 with drinking, 2 with drugs.

OUT ON DVD
The Matrix Revolutions (R)

Director: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving. (129 min.)

Staff ** For millions, "The Matrix Reloaded" was so disappointing that they opted to skip "Revolutions," the concluding chapter of the trilogy. Is it worth a rental? There's plenty to enjoy here - including a sequence in which squid-like machines attack a subterranean city - but only Mel Gibson could derive any satisfaction from the conclusion of Neo's messianic journey. The extras are mostly, yawn, comprised of behind-the-scenes shots of actors suspended from wires like marionettes. If only the puppet masters themselves, the reclusive Wachowski brothers, had bothered to explain their convoluted plot in a commentary track.

Something's Gotta Give (PG-13)

Director: Nancy Meyers. With Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet. (121 min.)

Staff *** Instead of mid-life crisis, this charming film delivers the ultimate boomer fantasy - mid-life love at long last. As with many film delights, the ability to return to favorite moments at will is the real reason to own this DVD. However, the extras are mildly interesting: a coy commentary track with Jack Nicholson and director Meyers, as well as a deleted scene of Nicholson doing karaoke; and a tour of the Hamptons house set with Peet (3 min.); and a set of filmographies.

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