Movie Guide

New in Theaters

The Host (R)

Director: Joon-ho Bong. With Kang-ho Song, Hie-bong Byeon. (119 min.)

When was the last time you saw a really good mutant monster movie? "The Host" is the biggest commercial success in Korean cinema history and it's easy to see why. A cross between "Godzilla" and "Jaws," it manages to be both truly scary and truly funny – sometimes all at once. It seems that the American military stationed in Seoul is responsible for dumping vast quantities of formaldehyde into the Han River. Years have passed, and the result is a gigantic serpentine horror that terrorizes the coastline. One of its victims, the intrepid little girl Park Hyun-seo (Ko A-Sung), is stowed away for a little late-night dining but manages to get word to her extended family, which is almost as dysfunctional as the one in "Little Miss Sunshine." The direction by Bon Joon-ho has more than enough flair for this sort of thing. Grade: A–
– Peter Rainer

Maxed Out (Not Rated)

Director: James D. Scurlock. With Chris Barrett, Robin Leach. (90 min.)

Debt is big business in America, as James Scurlock's documentary makes abundantly clear. (His companion book is "Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders.") Through a series of interviews across the country's financial landscape, he showcases what happens to people when the minimum monthly payments aren't made. You may not need a movie to tell you this. Scurlock's filmmaking style leans more heavily on woebegone personal testimony than facts and figures, but politicians willing to go up against the credit industry's lobbyists would be well advised to take a look. Grade: B
– P.R.

Still in Release
Wild Hogs (PG-13)

Director: Walt Becker. With John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei. (99 min.)

The subculture of weekend warrior bikers is such rich comic material that the ineptitude of "Wild Hogs" is offensive. After all, it's not often that a subject this good comes along. John Travolta, William H. Macy, Tim Allen, and Martin Lawrence play suburban friends from Cincinnati who rev up their Harleys on weekends in order to spice up their blah lives. Then they make the decision to go whole hog, as it were, and hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle trip. At first it's amusing that this quartet would want to slap on the leather jackets and skull bandanas and do the "Easy Rider" thing. But since none of these characters resemble anything more than a kiddie cartoon adult, the fun fades fast. As for poor William H. Macy, the filmmakers have him banging into road signs. Even Chevy Chase wouldn't be caught dead doing this stuff. Grade: F
– P.R.

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