OPENING THIS WEEK
This mock documentary follows comedian Charlyne Yi on a cross-country quest to find, and figure out, love -- and journey that, inevitably, includes a stop at a Las Vegas wedding chapel where an imitation Elvis presides over rockin' nuptials. Michael Cera co-stars, in the demanding role of Michael Cera, while Jake M. Johnson co-stars -- as writer-director Nicholas Jasenovec. At Village Square. (88 min.) PG-13; profanity.
In this comedy, former "Gilmore Girl" Alexis Bledel plays a newly-minted college graduate forced to move back home with her wacky parents (Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch) and her wackier grandma (Carol Burnett) while she looks for the perfect job -- and the perfect guy. At multiple locations. (89 min.) PG-13; sexual situations, brief profanity.
This family-friendly fantasy, from writer-director Robert Rodriguez (in his "Spy Kids" mode), focuses on a magical wishing rock that triggers small-town chaos when adults and kids compete to control it. Kat Dennings, Jon Cryer, Leslie Mann, William H. Macy and James Spader lead the cast. At multiple locations. (89 min.) PG; mild action, rude humor.
THE STONING OF SORAYA M.
Set in 1986, this fact-based drama follows a traveler ("Passion of the Christ's" Jim Caviezel) whose car breaks down in a remote Iranian village, where a resident ("House of Sand and Fog" Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo) recalls the tragic fate of her niece Soraya (Mozhan Mamo), whose arranged marriage to an abusive tyrant leads to the title incident, when her husband unjustly accuses her of adultery. In English and Persian with English subtitles. At Village Square. (116 min.) R; disturbing sequence of cruel and brutal violence, brief profanity.
UNDER THE SEA 3-D
This documentary ventures beneath the diverse coastal regions of Southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific and explores the impact of global warming on the denizens of the deep. Jim Carrey narrates. At multiple locations. (40 min.) G; all ages.
X-GAMES 3-D: THE MOVIE
This sports documentary, in theaters for a scheduled one-week run, goes behind the scenes with extreme sports athletes Sam White, Travis Pastrana, Danny Way, Ricky Carmichael and Bob Burnquist, exploring their sacrifices -- and their triumphs -- in such over-the-edge sports as snowboarding, skateboarding and BMX bicycle racing. At multiple locations. (92 min.) PG; extreme sports action and accidents.
ALREADY IN THEATERS
Movies are rated on a letter-grade scale, from A to F. Opinions by R-J movie critic Carol Cling (C.C.) are indicated by initials. Other opinions are from wire service critics.
ALIENS IN THE ATTIC
(C-) A children's movie mix of live-action and animation, this family-friendly romp features a group of kids (led by "High School Musical" alumna Ashley Tisdale, parading around in a bikini for all the dads out there) battling extra-terrestrials invading their vacation home. This has a few positive messages, a few laughs and a few comic throw-downs (one involving "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Doris Roberts going all "Crouching Tiger" on an alien-controlled frat boy), but it's at least as stupid as it is funny. (86 min.) PG; action violence, suggestive humor, profanity.
AWAY WE GO
(B) A young couple expecting their first child ("The Office's" John Krasinski, "Saturday Night Live" alumna Maya Rudolph) hit the road to connect with friends and family -- and find the perfect place to start their own family -- in an amiably oddball odyssey that winds from Arizona to Wisconsin to Florida -- and Canada. It's a (welcome) change of pace for Oscar-winning "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes (who probably needed one after last year's anguished "Revolutionary Road"); Krasinski's and Rudolph's unassuming performances help make this the first Mendes movie that feels lived-in rather than staged. (98 min.) R; profanity, sexual content.
(B) The new kid in town ("Chocolat's" Gaelan Connell) teams up with a free spirit ("High School Musical's" Vanessa Hudgens) to form a rock group destined to compete in a hometown battle of the bands. "Friday Night Lights" graduate Scott Porter and "Friends" veteran Lisa Kudrow co-star for "Camp" director Todd Graff in a charmer that exceeds current teen-flick standards to deliver a combination of good feeling and pretty solid music. (111 min.) PG; thematic elements, mild profanity.
(B-) "Borat's" Sacha Baron Cohen returns as another outrageous character: the title Austrian fashionista, who's "schwartzlisted" at home, prompting an international odyssey, from Hollywood to the heartland, in search of fabulousness and fame. Once again, the deadpan Baron Cohen proves an equal opportunity offender, using comic assaults to puncture the pretensions -- and the prejudices -- of those he encounters. Not quite the satirical thunderbolt "Borat" proved, "Brüno" has an inescapable been-there, seen-that undercurrent, yet it's still another defiantly un-PC (and frequently hilarious) exercise in excess. (83 min.) R; pervasive strong and crude sexual content, graphic nudity, profanity. (C.C.)
(D-) A financially strapped ex-con (Josh Stuart) plots a heist at his new employer's country home, not realizing that another crook has already staked it out -- and rigged it with deadly traps. Seen "Saw," anyone? Screenwriters Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan have, because they also co-wrote the fourth, fifth and sixth "Saw" sequels -- and are in development on the seventh. Here, they start their very own horror series, and it's the same old slice and dice, dragging itself along as if bored by its own sadism. (88 min.) R; pervasive sadistic bloody violence, profanity, sexual situations, nudity.
DINOSAURS 3D: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA
(B) If you like dinosaurs (and who doesn't?), you'll love this 3-D documentary, which follows paleontologist Rodolfo Coria as he tramps the rugged wilds of Patagonia (southern Argentina), where remains of the largest dinosaurs in the world -- including the 120-foot Argentinosaurus -- have been discovered. The perfect blend of scholarly information and totally cool dinosaurs brought to vivid life. (40 min.) G; scary dinosaurs.
(B) Aliens trapped in apartheid-like conditions on Earth discover an ally in a government agent (Sharlto Copley) who, exposed to their biotechnology, begins mutating from human to extra-terrestrial. This sci-fi sleeper from writer-director Neill Blomkamp and producer Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings") proves sci-fi thrillers don't have to be star-studded or mega-budgeted to be visually compelling -- and thoroughly entertaining. (112 min.) R; bloody violence, pervasive profanity.
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER
(B+) Back in Las Vegas following its June debut at the CineVegas film festival, this romantic-comedy charmer focuses on a lovelorn L.A. guy ("G.I. Joe's" Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an aspiring architect working at a greeting-card company, before and after he falls for a quirky new co-worker (Zooey Deschanel) who doesn't quite believe in love, everlasting or otherwise. Marc Webb's breezy debut gets a bit too gimmicky for its own good, yet ultimately overcomes its self-conscious cuteness to get to the heart of the matter. (95 min.) PG-13; sexual references, profanity. (C.C.)
(B+) It's not a pretty picture, but this documentary presents an essential one, exploring American agribusiness and its impact on our food supply. From high fructose corn syrup to E coli, director Robert Kenner (PBS' "The American Experience") presents a blistering indictment of giant food conglomerates; it's about a subtle as a watermelon in a bowl of Cheerios, but Kenner's not trying to be objective. He's out to scare people -- parents with young children, low-income families who depend on fast foods to get by, politicians, food safety officials, all of us -- and he succeeds. (93 min.) PG; thematic material, disturbing images.
(C) A 40-something comic movie star (Adam Sandler, bravely lampooning his goofball image) develops a possibly fatal blood disease and takes an aspiring stand-up comedian (a genial Seth Rogen) under his wing. This maudlin, contrived and frustratingly self-indulgent comedy-drama from writer-director Judd Apatow ("Knocked Up," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin") strains to be serious, but by trying to cram three movies into one, "Funny People" suffers from a massive identity crisis -- and a fatal case of the bloats. (145 min.) R; sexual situations and references, nudity, profanity. (C.C.)
(C) Specially trained animal spies (including those voiced by Tracy Morgan, Sam Rockwell and Oscar-winners Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz) battle a diabolical billionaire (Bill Nighy) in a humdrum, kid-friendly hybrid of "Mission: Impossible" and "The Wind in the Willows" that's an inane perpetual-motion machine of car chases (and motorized exercise ball chases), projectile kitchen appliances, and, yes, a towering "Transformers"-like robot run amok. Good thing the 9-inch-tall furball action heroes are actually computer-animated, because real rodents wouldn't have lasted through the opening minutes. Grown-ups in the audience may not either. (88 min.) PG; mild action, rude humor.
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA
(D) Forget those fighting soldiers you collected as a kid; this G.I. Joe is an entire elite fighting force, assigned to take on a notorious arms dealer (Christopher Eccleston) and his evil killing organization. Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sienna Miller and Dennis Quaid lead the starring cast, but the original Hasbro action figures probably would have given livelier performances. Director Stephen Sommers ("The Mummy" franchise) isn't interested in them anyway, saving his overkill for the computerized effects -- and the audience members who become collateral damage. (118 min.) PG-13; strong action violence and mayhem.
THE GOODS: LIVE HARD. SELL HARD.
(C-) No cash for this clunker, a strained comedy about an under-the-gun car dealer (James Brolin) so desperate he calls in an ace liquidator (Jeremy Piven) who specializes in bringing dead car lots back to life. Despite a timely premise and a game cast (including Ving Rhames, David Koechner and "The Hangover's" Ed Helms), this wannabe satire's down-and-dirty 'tude turns out to be a ruse, because in its heart of hearts it's nothing but mush. In other words, "The Goods" is far from good. (90 min.) R; sexual content, nudity, pervasive profanity, drug material. (C.C.)
(C) A wild Caesars Palace bachelor bash spells trouble for four pals (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha) who party so hard they can't remember anything from the night before -- including where they left the groom. "Old School" director Todd Phillips' rude, crude 'n' lewd romp provides a perfect excuse for anyone who wants to laugh his (or her) ass off; if you'd rather laugh your head off, however, you'll have to find another movie, because this one's pretty much brainless, and proudly so. (99 min.) R; pervasive profanity, sexual content, nudity, drug material. (C.C.)
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE
(B) Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) enters his sixth year of training in wizardry -- and discovers an old book that helps him delve into the dark past of the villainous Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Slower and talkier than the five Potters that came before -- but not necessarily in a bad way -- this is a bubbling cauldron of adolescent angst, rife with romance and heartbreak, jealousy and longing. If it weren't for all the bearded wizards and whooshing Death Eater vapor trails, this could be just another modern-day high school melodrama. (153 min.) PG; scary images, violence, profanity, mild sensuality.
THE HURT LOCKER
(A-) Three members of an Army bomb-defusing squad --a cocky sergeant (Jeremy Renner), his steady second-in-command (Anthony Mackie) and a scared-spitless rookie (Brian Geraghty) -- hit the streets of Iraq hoping to save lives, including their own. In this riveting action drama, one of the year's best movies, director Kathryn Bigelow ("Point Break," "K-19: The Widowmaker") demonstrates her mastery of action (and psychology), exploring how dehumanizing -- and how addictive -- combat can be. (131 min.) R; war violence, profanity. (C.C.)
ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS
(C) Yawn of the dinosaurs: The third prehysteric adventure in the "Ice Age" franchise is definitely not the charm, as computer-animated pals Manny, Ellie, Diego and Sid (alias Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary and John Leguizamo -- or at least their voices) have definitely overstayed their welcome, despite a move to Jurassic-like surroundings. Despite the imaginative imagery (and effective 3-D), the depth of these effects make the flatness of the story (and the indifferent voicework) all the more obvious. (94 min.) PG; mild rude humor and peril.
JULIE & JULIA
(B-) In post-World War II Paris, Julia Child (Meryl Streep) discovers the wonders of French cuisine, while in post-Sept. 11 New York, frustrated writer Julie Powell (Amy Adams) decides to cook her way through Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." This genial two-in-one account from writer-director Nora Ephron ("Sleepless in Seattle") strains to equate its two protagonists' far from equal journeys, yet the contrived concept works better than it has any right to, thanks in part to deft performances -- and Ephron's light, almost sitcom-style approach. Even so, this recipe would be a lot better with more Julia and less Julie. (123 min.) PG-13; brief profanity, sexual references. (C.C.)
LAND OF THE LOST
(C-) Wasteland of the lost: A crackpot scientist (Will Ferrell), believing time travel can solve the world's fossil fuel shortage, zaps himself back in time in a (very) loose adaptation of the '70s kid TV favorite that wastes Ferrell's comedic talents and exemplifies the current Hollywood formula: big over small, special effects over story and excess, excess, excess. Some movies are good stupid; this one's just plain stupid, and that's not good. (93 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, profanity, drug references.
MY SISTER'S KEEPER
(C) A young girl ("Little Miss Sunshine's" Abigail Breslin) conceived as a genetic match for her cancer-stricken sister (Sofia Vassilieva) rebels against her parents (Cameron Diaz, Jason Patric). The "Notebook" team of director Nick Cassavetes and co-writer Jeremy Leven reunites for this moving yet slick adaptation of Jodi Picoult's book, which captures the profound sorrow and grim realities of a dying child -- but also strikes the prettified tone of a sympathy card. (106 min.) PG-13; mature themes, disturbing images, sexual references, profanity, brief teen drinking.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN
(B-) History repeats itself, in more ways than one, in this sequel to the 2006 hit. This time, former night guard turned gadget guru Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) discovers that the friends who came to life after hours at New York's Museum of Natural History are destined for mothballs at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., setting the stage for a rescue mission that finds spunky pilot Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) helping battle power-crazed pharaoh Kahmunrah (the sublimely silly Hank Azaria). Not much movie magic beyond the computer-generated effects, but it's still an occasionally clever, frequently funny and generally lively adventure. (105 min.) PG; mild action, brief profanity. (C.C.)
(B) After losing yet another baby, John and Kate Coleman (top-shelf actors Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga) decide to adopt 9-year-old Esther (the terrifically creepy Isabelle Fuhrman), who's hardly a bundle of joy. This thoroughly enjoyable addition to the venerable, mostly forgotten devil-spawn genre (think 1956's "The Bad Seed" and 1972's "The Other") proves there's plenty of life in the old demon-seed plotline. (123 min.) R; disturbing violent content, sexual situations, profanity.
A PERFECT GETAWAY
(B-) Cheap thrills: two vacationing couples (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) vacationing in Hawaii discover that murderous psychos are sharing their romantic Hawaiian idyll in a pulpy chiller (from "Chronicles of Riddick" writer-director David Twohy) that plays dumb to outsmart its audience. Up to a point, it works; this is one B-movie that not only knows where it's going but knows how to get there. (97 min.) R; graphic violence, profanity, sexual references, drug use.
(B+) Master animator Hayao Miyazaki ("Spirited Away," "Princess Mononoke") returns with another fanciful fable, this one about a magical goldfish who longs to discover what life beyond the sea is like -- and gets her chance when she's washed ashore and picked up by a 5-year-old boy. Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon and Tina Fey lead the vocal cast of this English-language version (scripted by "E.T.'s" Melissa Mathison). You watch a Miyazaki film with the pie-eyed, gape-mouthed awe of a child being read the most fantastic story and suddenly transported to places previously beyond the limits of imagination. As always, it's quite a trip. (101 min.) G; all ages.
(B-) A bitch-on-wheels book editor (Sandra Bullock) who's about to be deported drafts her browbeaten assistant (Ryan Reynolds) as her instant fiancé, only to get her fish-out-of-water comeuppance when they visit his folks in rugged Alaska. This genial romantic comedy may utterly predictable and eminently forgettable, but the charmingly deft cast -- including Betty White as a go-for-the-gusto grandma -- proves such good company you might not care. (108 min.) PG-13; sexual content, nudity, profanity. (C.C.)
(C+) Motion, not emotion: Johnny Depp goes gangster, playing dapper Depression-era hood John Dillinger to "Dark Knight" Christian Bale's straight-arrow G-man Melvin Purvis in director Michael Mann's rat-a-tat action workout. Too bad it's so overstuffed with bank jobs and shootouts there's little room for character development, let alone reflection. But at least it looks great, and a few supporting players strike sparks, especially "La Vie en Rose" Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard as Dillinger moll Billie Frechette and Mann's "Crime Story" co-star Stephen Lang as a gun-totin' lawman who knows how to get the job done. (140 min.) R; gangster violence, profanity. (C.C.)
(D) Skin deep: A jaded L.A. gigolo (Ashton Kutcher) sponges off a wealthy cougar (Anne Heche) -- until a sassy woman immune to his charms ("Adventureland's" Margarita Levieva) catches his eye. Anyone who has seen the infinitely superior "Shampoo" will recognize what spreads out before us in the not-very-funny, not-very-insightful "Spread." But at least Kutcher expands his range; in addition to being good at the shirtless scenes, he can also do pantsless. (97 min.) R; strong sexual content, nudity, profanity.
(B) A blast from the past (and a blast, period), this relaunch of the venerable Starship Enterprise delivers, saluting Gene Roddenberry's original without embalming its best qualities. Actionmeister J.J. Abrams ("Lost") breaks no new ground, but shakes the mission free of numbing nostalgia, while a near-perfect cast (Chris Pine as hot-headed, hot-blooded James T. Kirk, "Heroes' " Zachary Quinto as young Spock, Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Simon Pegg as Scotty -- and, inevitably, Leonard Nimoy as time-warped Spock Prime) does the rest. (126 min.) PG-13; sci-fi action and violence, brief sexual content. (C.C.)
THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE
(C) "The Notebook's" Rachel McAdams returns to the star-crossed romance genre with this adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's novel about a Chicago librarian (the well-cast Eric Bana) with a genetic glitch that triggers involuntary time-tripping. Scripted by "Ghost" Oscar-winner Bruce Joel Rubin, the movie's time-travel gimmick supersedes any sort of substance, depth or character development. It's told with a tenderness that's unusual in a major motion picture, but that tenderness, alas, leads mostly to dullness. But (107 min.) PG-13; thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity, sexuality.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
(C) Those nasty Decepticons are back, kidnapping hero Sam Witwicky (charismatic Shia LaBeouf) and setting the stage for another epic, duel-to-the-death battle with the good-guy Autobots to determine Earth's fate. Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and John Turturro reprise their roles in this follow-up to the 2007 smash, which is bigger, longer and louder than its predecessor. In this case, more is definitely less, making this installment long on boom-boom-pow and short on boom-boom-wow! (147 min.) PG-13; intense sci-fi action violence, profanity, crude and sexual material, brief drug material.
THE UGLY TRUTH
(D+) Ugly is as "Ugly" does: A romantically challenged producer for a morning news show (in-a-rut charmer Katherine Heigl) clashes with her show's misogynistic new correspondent ("300's" mucho macho Gerard Butler), who tests his relationship theories on her. Crude yet cloying, this aptly titled battle-of-the-sexes comedy turns out to be a cynical, clumsy attempt to mate a chick flick with a male-oriented gross-out comedy; both sexes should sue for defamation of character. (101 min.) R; sexual content, profanity. (C.C.)
(A-) Another winner from the folks at Pixar Animation, who make a whimsical leap to 3-D with this buoyant tale of an elderly widower (voiced by Ed Asner) and a stowaway kid (Jordan Nagai) who take to the skies -- in a house buoyed by balloons -- to explore exotic climes. Director Pete Docter ("Monsters, Inc.") directs with a sure-handed mixture of sentiment and slapstick, tapping into the magical connection between young and old -- and making this an ideal summer moviegoing treat for kids of all ages. (96 min.) PG; action and peril. (C.C.)