Director: Steve Oedekerk. With the voices of Kevin James, Courteney Cox. (90 min.)
When the farmer's away his animals walk on hind legs, have business meetings, and party all night with Otis, a fun-loving cow. Otis's serious-minded dad, Ben, stands guard against the threat that he alone respects: coyotes. Eventually Otis takes over Ben's role – "Lion King" style – in a final confrontation with the predators. This coming-of-age story can seem like a series of "Far Side" panels expanded into a feature, but it imparts its lessons with a wealth of detail and too many gags to catch in one viewing. Grade: B
– M.K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: None. Violence: 9 instances. Profanity: None. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 3 scenes with implied drinking.
Director: Susan Seidelman. With Joseph Bologna, Dyan Cannon. (105 min.)
If you go to most Hollywood movies these days you might be forgiven for thinking that everyone past the age of 40 has been shut away in storage lockers. So I wish I could welcome the arrival of "Boynton Beach Club," which is about the funny-sad shenanigans of an adult – i.e. past 60 – community in Florida. Unfortunately, the film plays like a bloated version of an old episode of "Love, American Style." Its wasted cast includes Dyan Cannon, Sally Kellerman, Len Cariou, and Brenda Vaccaro, who miraculously manages to give a fine performance in this malarkey. Grade: D+
– Peter Rainer
Director: Neil Marshall. With Natalie Mendoza, Saskia Mulder. (99 min.)
In an attempt to share her love of spelunking with five women friends, Juno (Mendoza) leads them into an unexplored Appalachian cave system. Soon they lose all hope of returning the way they came in. Taut direction and convincing performances impart a terrifying sense of claustrophobia and isolation. It comes almost as a relief when the women realize they have a new challenge: flesh-hungry crawling hominids that have adapted to total darkness. At this point the film becomes more of a standard horror flick, but it's skillful enough to keep the audience from thinking too much about its silly premise. Grade: B–
Sex/Nudity: 2 instances of innuendo. Violence: 14 gory and scary scenes. Profanity: 53 harsh expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 3 scenes with drinking, 2 with smoking.
Director: Patrick Stettner. With Robin Williams, Toni Collette. (91 min.)
Something happens to Robin Williams in serious roles. He becomes so drab that it's almost as if he's trying to efface himself from the screen. Williams plays Gabriel Noone – as in no one, get it? – a Public Radio storyteller who strikes up a friendship with a teen listener, Pete (Rory Culkin), whose descriptions of childhood woe are so harrowing that Gabriel opts to investigate. But things are not as they seem. Pete's adopted mother (Collette) may be pulling a con job, and Gabriel's lover (Bobby Cannavale) is breaking up with him. All of which makes Gabriel almost as aggrieved as anyone watching this film. Grade: C–
Sex/Nudity: 1 instance of nudity, 3 scenes of innuendo, 1 scene with implied child porn. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 45 strong expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 2 scenes with drinking, 3 with smoking.
Director: Betty Thomas. With Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti, Sophia Bush. (87 min.)
High school basketball captain John Tucker (Metcalfe) juggles three steady girlfriends without any of them being aware of the others. Inevitably, they find out about each other during a gym class. Wallflower Kate (Snow), dragged into the fray, sets them on course to take vent their anger on John, rather than each other. Several tactics hilariously misfire until the trio hits upon the idea of grooming Kate to be the girl who finally breaks John's heart. The material is often trite, but director Thomas and her attractive cast make it seem fresh most of the time. And somehow everyone becomes a better person before the credits roll. Grade: B–
Sex/Nudity: 12 instances of innuendo. Violence: 3 scenes. Profanity: 24 strong expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 1 instance of drinking.