Movie Guide

New in Theaters

Chicken Little (G)

Director: Mark Dindal. With the voices of Zach Braff, Joan Cusack. (77 min.)

It's finally happened. The Walt Disney Studio, which pioneered hand-drawn animation, has made its first fully animated computer feature, "Chicken Little." Is the sky falling? No tears need be shed: This fast and funny comedy, which will be shown in digital 3-D in select theaters, demonstrates that Disney can survive quite well without Pixar. The visuals are irrepressibly witty and so is the script, which morphs from the classic fable into a spoof on "War of the Worlds." I prefer this version to Spielberg's. Grade: A-

The Passenger (PG-13)

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni. With Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider. (119 min.)

"The Passenger," Antonioni's existential thriller from 1975, has steadily been building up its reputation over the years. Sony Classics, which will release the DVD early next year, has just brought out a newly restored theatrical version with six minutes of footage cut from the original US release. Nicholson plays a TV journalist in Africa who assumes the identity of a dead man. Maria Schneider, fresh from "Last Tango in Paris," is the mystery woman. The film's final seven-minute shot is one of the great denouements in film history. Grade: A

Still in release
The Legend of Zorro (PG)

Director: Martin Campbell. With Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones. (100 min.)

"The Legend of Zorro" made me long to re-watch "Zorro the Gay Blade," the spoof starring George Hamilton. In that film, the Spanish accents sound deliberately fake. Here, even Banderas has a hard time sounding authentic. Zorro's nemesis, a French aristocrat, plans to blow up America. He seems to be under the misapprehension that Zorro is James Bond. Grade: C-

Paradise Now (PG-13)

Director: Hany Abu-Assad. With Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman. (90 min.)

Said and his friend Khaled are recruited as human bombs by an underground Palestinian terrorist organization in the intermittently powerful "Paradise Now." Abu-Assad attempts - with mixed results - to get inside the psyches of men who would blow themselves up for the cause. Grade: B+

The Squid and the Whale (R)

Director: Noah Baumbach. With Laura Linney, Jeff Daniels. (80 min.)

Baumbach's semiautobiographical comedy has the freshness of firsthand observation. It's about the breakup of a self-infatuated novelist (a bearded Jeff Daniels) and his headstrong wife as seen through the eyes of their two sons. Baumbach captures the ways in which children take sides in a war they can't even begin to comprehend. Grade: A-

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