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Movie Guide

Reviews of three new films, including the latest nature documentary for kids, 'An Arctic Tale.'

By Peter RainerFilm Critic of The Christian Science Monitor / July 27, 2007



New in theaters Molière (PG-13)

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Director: Laurent Tirard. With Romain Duris, Fabrice Luchini, Laura Morante. (120 min.)

Most biopics of great artists are staid, and when they are not, as in "Amadeus," they're silly. In the case of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, also known as Molière, his life would seem to offer up a rich bouquet of possibilities. Raised in wealth, he chose the penurious life of the theater, where he not only wrote some of the world's great satires but also acted in them and directed. Eventually he became a favorite of the king, which is always a good way to ensure one's career (provided the king remains in power). The rambunctiously uneven "Molière" focuses on a skimpily documented period in the playwright's life when, after being jailed by his creditors, he disappeared for several months before returning to his troupe. As Molière, Romain Duris is frisky and, playing the wife of his benefactor, Laura Morante proves once again that she is one of the most intelligent and attractive actresses in the world. Grade: B

An Arctic Tale (G)

Director: Sarah Robertson. (96 min.) Narrated by Queen Latifah.

The best reason to see this documentary is for the stunning shots of polar bears and walruses in the Arctic Circle. If the filmmakers had just left it at that, they would have accomplished a lot. But not content to give us a nature documentary, they have gone one step further and created a piece of self-described "nature fiction." The walrus and polar bear cubs fighting for their existence are, in fact, composites whose stories were largely created in the editing room. That doesn't mean "An Arctic Tale," which bears down on the dangers of global warning, isn't worth seeing. (It was co-written by Al Gore's daughter Kristin.) It just means that it has to be taken with a very large grain of salt. Grade: B

Hairspray (PG)

Director: Adam Shankman. With John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes. (117 min.)

"Hairspray" is a feel-good musical that, for a change, actually makes you feel good. Based on the Tony award-winning Broadway show derived from the 1988 John Waters movie, it opens with a bang – the high-spirited "Good Morning Baltimore" – and never lets up. Grade: A

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