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Movie Guide

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Director: Garth Jennings. With Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def, John Malkovich. (110 min.)

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Sterritt * An ordinary man is beamed to safety by an interstellar friend just before Earth is demolished by aliens who need room for their new hyperspace highway. This long-awaited movie adaptation of the late Douglas Adams's book, TV, and radio franchise is surprisingly bland. Die-hard fans should enjoy it, though.

House of Wax (R)

Director: Jaume Serra. With Elisha Cuthbert, Jared Padalecki, Paris Hilton, Chad Michael Murray. (105 min.)

Sterritt *** This remake of the 1953 horror classic, minus Vincent Price and the 3-D effects, brings a group of college kids to a haunted town where wax rules, along with terror, derangement, and other nasty things. As a frightfest it's better than today's average.

The Interpreter (PG-13)

Director: Sydney Pollack. With Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Sydney Pollack. (123 min.)

Sterritt *** Kidman plays a UN interpreter who says she overheard a death threat against an African tyrant - whom she turns out to have reasons for hating. The thriller is swiftly told and smartly acted, with an idea or two on its mind as a bonus.

Kicking & Screaming (PG)

Director: Jesse Dylan. With Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall, Kate Walsh, Mike Ditka. (90 min.)

Sterritt *** Ferrell plays a soccer dad who coaches a preteen squad with his klutzy son as a member and his hotly competitive father (Duvall) determined to lead his own team to the championship. Some scenes are just silly, others are dead-on uproarious. Ditka, a real-life football legend, is a real find as our hero's assistant.

Kingdom of Heaven (R)

Director: Ridley Scott. With Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, David Thewlis, Jeremy Irons. (138 min.)

Sterritt ** Scott turns to history again in this epic about crusaders fighting Muslims in the Holy Land several centuries ago. The screenplay aims for relevance to current world conflicts, but the story's medieval setting and the camera's obsession with action, action, action dilutes its potential as sober commentary. Adventure fans should like it.

Monster-in-Law (PG-13)

Director: Robert Luketic. With Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan, Adam Scott. (102 min.)

Sterritt * A bride to be, who works as a temp, dukes it out with her mother-in-law to be, a former TV star - as the wedding day draws near. The comedy is shamelessly stupid and flagrantly vulgar by turns. Fonda is no great actress, but why did she choose this throwaway trash as her first movie in 15 years?

Unleashed (R)

Director: Louis Leterrier. With Jet Li, Morgan Freeman, Bob Hoskins, Kerry Condon. (103 min.)

Sterritt * Preposterously violent thriller about an Asian fighter who's treated like a dog by the Englishman who "owns" him until he's given refuge by a blind piano tuner. The screenplay is dumb, but has enough weird touches to give occasional glimmers of interest.

XXX: State of the Union (PG-13)

Director: Lee Tamahori. With Ice Cube, Willem Dafoe, Nona M. Gaye, Samuel L. Jackson. (101 min.)

Sterritt ** Sequel to "XXX" with Cube taking over Vin Diesel's role as a supersecret government agent operating on (and beyond) the fringes of the law. This time he needs to save the president from a coup engineered by the secretary of defense.

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