Movie Guide

New in Theaters
Akeelah and the Bee (PG)

Director: Doug Atchison. With Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne. (112 min.)

As the latest in a seemingly endless string of movies and shows about spelling bees, we have "Akeelah and the Bee," a slight but winning heart-tugger about a deprived black girl from L.A.'s Crenshaw district who goes on to compete in the national finals. As 11-year-old Akeelah, Keke Palmer is a charmer. As her widowed mother, Bassett does her share of fuming, and as her spelling coach, Fishburne is saddled with being Mr. Sensitive (inside a tough exterior, of course). Writer-director Doug Atchison isn't very interested in the actual mechanics of how one gets to be a spelling champion, which is too bad. He's more interested in uplift. Grade: B
- Peter Rainer

R.V. (PG)

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld. With Robin WIlliams, Cheryl Hines. (98 min.)

Recommended: Default

Bob Munro (Williams) is told that he must cancel his family's Hawaii trip to put together a corporate merger in the Rockies. To salvage the vacation, Bob rents a motor home and takes the wife and kids camping near the site of the deal, planning to sneak over the hill when nobody's looking. Complicating life is his ineptitude as a driver and an over-helpful bunch of folk-singing Texans (headed by a drawling Jeff Daniels). Moments of subtlety and wit mitigate occasional tendencies toward gross-out humor and Disney-itis. The slapstick sometimes evokes Buster Keaton or Harold Lloyd. Grade: B
- M.K. Terrell

Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendo. Violence: 6 instances, mostly cartoonish. Profanity: 13 mild expressions Alcohol/Tobacco/Drugs: 3 instances of drinking.

Stick It (PG-13)

Director: Jessica Bendinger. With Jeff Bridges, Missy Peregrym. (105 min.)

Bendinger, who wrote the popular cheerleader comedy "Bring It On," has now moved to the world of competitive gymnastics. Seventeen-year-old misfit Haley Graham (Peregrym) is assigned by the juvenile court to do time at a gymnastics academy run by crusty coach Burt Vickerman (Bridges). Haley had once been a junior champion before she choked during a competition, and the movie is about her road to redemption. Bendinger wants to have it both ways: She plays up the cutthroat competitiveness of the sport, but wants us to know that winning isn't everything. Peregrym is a fresh-faced beauty and Bridges is enjoyably cranky, but the film is as bland as an Afterschool Special. Grade: C
- P.R.

Still in Release
The Sentinel (PG-13)

Director: Clark Johnson. With Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland. (108 min.)

Douglas plays a US Secret Service agent who is suspected of plotting to assassinate the president. Sutherland plays his nemesis. The dialogue is wooden, so are many of the subsidiary performances, but the action is often good. Grade: B
- P.R.

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