New in Theaters
Director: Kevin Macdonald. With Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Gillian Anderson. (121 min.)
Coincidentally this week, in addition to "The Queen," we also have a movie about a king. "The Last King of Scotland" (which even has a script co-written by "The Queen's" screenwriter Peter Morgan) is about the murderous reign of Uganda's Idi Amin Dada and stars Forest Whitaker in a performance of breathtaking originality. Kevin Macdonald, a documentarian ("One Day in September," "Touching the Void") making his dramatic feature debut, has a haphazard visual style, but he knows what he has in Whitaker. It would have been easy for the actor to play Idi Amin as a buffoonish butcher, but he gets inside the insidious malice of the man. The young Scottish doctor he appoints as his personal physician (James McAvoy) is seduced by all the bullying pomp, and he is meant to be a stand-in for all those who have cozied up to tyrants. McAvoy's progression from awe to horror is predictable, and the film could have gone deeper into the legacy of British imperialism that gave rise to the Idi Amins of the world. But Whitaker's performance dispels most of one's objections. He is terrifying in a way that we recognize not from old movies but from life. Grade: B+
– Peter Rainer
Director: Roger Allers, Jill Culton. With Ashton Kutcher, Martin Lawrence, Debra Messing. (99 min.)
The trouble with baby bears is that they grow up. Ranger Beth (voiced by Messing) has rescued Boog, an orphaned cub, raising him in her garage. Now Boog (Lawrence) is a full-size grizzly, and nothing can keep him out of the convenience store. The sheriff orders him back to the wild – just as hunting season is about to begin. Boog acquires a pint-sized sidekick, Eliot the deer (Kutcher), and they lead the other animals in a scheme to rid their turf of hunters. It's wittily written and animated, but the lovely painted backdrops look decidedly 2-D in the 3-D version. Grade: B–
– M. K. Terrell
Sex/Nudity: 3 instances of innuendos. Violence: 13 instances of cartoonish violence. Profanity: 2 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: None.
Director: Todd Phillips. With Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda Barrett. (100 min.)
Self-worth is not in Roger's vocabulary. After losing his parking patrol uniform to armed thugs, Roger (Heder) is ready for some assertiveness training. He joins a class under the mysterious Dr. P (Thornton), whose first assignment is to go out and start a fight with someone. Roger soon has enough confidence to ask the woman down the hall for a date. Everything's rosy until Roger suspects the good doctor is making a play for his girl. This mostly amusing comedy flags after a while, but comes together in a wild finale. Grade: B–
Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendos. Violence: 14 instances of violence, mostly for comic effect. Profanity: 67 expressions. occasionally strong. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 1 scene of smoking; 4 scenes of drinking.
Director: David Leaf, John Scheinfeld. With Walter Cronkite, John Lennon (archive footage), G. Gordon Liddy (96 min.)
In 1972, the Nixon White House was conflicted. John Lennon was drawing support for antiwar causes, which could hurt Nixon's bid for reelection. Deporting the Lennons could turn even more voters against him. In the end, the FBI amassed a thick file on the Lennons, and they were ordered out of the country. This fascinating documentary shows how far government will go to throttle opposition, but also how, sometimes, you can fight the establishment and win. Some revelations will be as surprising to John and Yoko's followers as they are to viewers who know little about them. Grade: B+
Sex/Nudity: Some mild innuendo. Violence: 12 instances of violence, including news footage of dead bodies from the Vietnam war. Profanity: 7 harsh expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 3 scenes of smoking.
Director: Frank E. Flowers. With Orlando Bloom, Bill Paxton, Zoe Saldana. (115 min.)
The tax-exempt Cayman Islands are a sort of Caribbean Swiss bank, but officials are cracking down big-time on shady finances. A professional money launderer (Stephen Dillane) offers to save his skin by informing on a client (Paxton), who has fled there from US investigators. The movie, following what seem at first to be subplots involving small-time hoods and forbidden love, shows how corruption, drug dealing, and racial tension have infected the native population, turning this Eden into a kind of Gomorrah. Flowers's directorial debut is sometimes a little hard to follow, but shows genuine concern and hope for his native land. Grade: B–
Sex/Nudity: 11 scenes including innuendo and implied sex. Violence: 9 instances of violence, including murder and fights. Profanity: 158 harsh expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 8 scenes with alcohol, 3 scenes with smoking, 11 scenes with drugs.