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.
Motion Picture Association of America ratings:
G – General audiences, all ages.
PG – Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 – Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children under 13.
R – Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or guardian.
NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted.
NR – Not rated.
AWAY FROM HER
(A-) An Alzheimer’s patient (an exquisitely subtle Julie Christie) goes into a nursing home and transfers her affections to an even more fragile patient (Michael Murphy), prompting an emotional crisis for her forgotten husband (craggy Gordon Pinsent), in actress-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley’s heart-piercingly poignant adaptation of Alice Munro’s short story "The Bear Went Over the Mountain." Despite the wrenching subject matter, it’s far from depressing — at times downright exhilarating — to watch a movie so quietly precise and emotionally insightful. (110 min.) PG-13; profanity, sexual references. (C.C.)
(B) This charming period tale speculates, "Shakespeare in Love"-style, about the romance between aspiring author Jane Austen (feisty, dreamy Anne Hathaway) and a dashing Irish law student ("Last King of Scotland’s" James McAvoy) — and how it inspired Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice." The movie’s implication that Austen might never have achieved literary immortality without love seems downright heretical, but the movie’s many pleasures (including a sterling supporting cast led by Julie Walters, Maggie Smith and James Cromwell) help atone for such blasphemy. (120 min.) PG; brief nudity, mild profanity and sexual references. (C.C.)
(B+) You can’t go home again, but amnesiac spy guy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) keeps trying, racing from London to Paris, Moscow to Madrid, Turin to Tangier to uncover the final clues to his past — in New York, where it all began. In a summer of underwhelming threequels, this one more than lives up to its predecessors, thanks to a top-chop cast (including David Strathairn and Joan Allen) and director Paul Greengrass’ ability to combine exhilarating action with a weighty sense of dread that gives "Bourne" a gravity — and a humanity — most action workouts lack. (114 min.) PG-13; violence, intense action sequences. (C.C.)
(D-) You go, girlz — go away. The teenage dolls with a "passion for fashion" make their big-screen debut in a live-action adventure that finds best-friends-forever Yasmin (Nathalia Ramos), Jade (Janel Parrish), Sasha (Logan Browning) and Cloe (Skyler Shaye) heading to high school — and battling peer pressure — in a movie so noisy, cloying and hysterically adolescent it may create its own cult of the perverse. (110 min.) PG; thematic elements.
DADDY DAY CAMP
(D) In this who-asked-for-it sequel to 2003’s "Daddy Day Care," Charlie (a flailing Cuba Gooding Jr., taking over from Eddie Murphy) and Phil (Paul Rae, replacing Jeff Garlin) take on operation of the run-down title camp, which they attended as kids, facing off against an old nemesis (Lochlyn Munro). Disney Channel veteran Fred Savage (who’s come a long way from "The Wonder Years") calls the shots in a movie that, at its artificial heart, is just your below-average story of grown-ups behaving like kids and kids acting like movie kids. (93 min.) PG; mild bodily humor and profanity.
DEEP SEA 3D
(B) Get up close and personal with ocean wildlife, unveiled in the reach-out-and-touch weirdness of IMAX 3D at the Luxor. This giant-screen documentary introduces exotic denizens of the deep so extravagantly extraterrestrial, nothing created by Hollywood’s special effects labs could possibly compete. (40 min.) G; all ages.
DINOSAURS 3D: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA
(B+) Now at Luxor’s IMAX theater, this excursion traces the evolution — and extinction — of giant prehistoric beasts that rip each other’s faces off in thrilling computer-generated segments showcasing species we didn’t see in "Jurassic Park." Paleontologist Rodolfo Coria proves a congenial tour guide, while Donald Sutherland’s droll narration emphasizes a quality all but extinct in large-format documentaries: humor. (40 min.) NR; very large, very loud dinosaurs.
(C-) The rise — and demise — of ’70s salsa pioneer Hector Lavoe (Marc Anthony, in solid voice), as witnessed by his mutually destructive wife (played by Anthony’s real-life wife, Jennifer Lopez). The music may be vibrant, but it ultimately takes a back seat to the cacophonous lady at the movie’s misplaced center, making this one downer of a musical biopic that leaves no cliché unturned. (116 min.) R; drug use, pervasive profanity, sexual situations.
(C-) Any movie that advocates random acts of kindness can’t be all bad. But this sort-of sequel to 2003’s "Bruce Almighty" proves not good, delivering strained, lame-brain sanctimony as obnoxious anchorman Evan Baxter (anxious Steve Carell), newly elected to Congress, finds an even greater calling when the Almighty (seen-it-all Morgan Freeman) instructs him to make like Noah and build an ark. (95 min.) PG; mild rude humor, some peril. (C.C.)
(B) Wild blue yonder: Nellis Air Force Base zooms into the giant-screen spotlight with this IMAX documentary, now at the Luxor, focusing on Red Flag combat training exercises. The midair sequences are almost sickeningly exhilarating, but plodding on-the-ground portions seem earthbound. (48 min.) NR; all ages.
(B+) You can’t stop the beat in this wigged-out blast from the past, an adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical starring John Travolta (in fat-suit drag) as a super-size ’60s housewife whose bubbly daughter (winning newcomer Nikki Blonsky) integrates a 1962 Baltimore TV dance party. More mainstream than the 1988 John Waters satire that inspired it, but an all-star cast (including Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer, a dynamite Elijah Kelly and "High School Musical’s" Zac Efron) packs irresistible punch. (117 min.) PG; profanity, mild sexual references, teen smoking. (C.C.)
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
(B-) Familiarity breeds contentment, not contempt, in the bleak fifth chapter of J.K. Rowling’s beloved tales, which finds an authoritarian bureaucrat (smilingly sinister Imelda Staunton) seizing power at Hogwarts magic academy — and casting a suspicious eye on Harry (quietly intense Daniel Radcliffe), who rebels when the powers-that-be doubt that villainous Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has returned. Not great or wildly imaginative, but good enough to get the job done. (138 min.) PG-13; fantasy violence, frightening images. (C.C.)
HOSTEL: PART II
(C) Talk about hostile: there’s more gore in store at writer-director Eli Roth’s sinister Slovakian hotel, where three American exchange students (Lauren German, Bijou Phillips, Heather Matarazzo) join a model from one of their art classes (Vera Jordanova) for a getaway stay that threatens to slay them — literally. Sure, it’s graphic (and gratuitous), but that’s the point. And Roth is darn good at making it — repeatedly. (93 min.) R; sadistic scenes of torture and bloody violence, terror, nudity, sexual content, profanity, drug use.
(D) Crash and burn: A bumbling amateur stuntman ("Saturday Night Live’s" Andy Samberg) tries to survive multiple stunt jumps — to raise money for a heart transplant for his abusive stepfather ("Deadwood’s" Ian McShane) in a super-stupid mashup of Adam Sandler’s random violence and Will Ferrell’s dim wattage. Every pratfall lands with a splat and every punchline lands without so much as a chortle. (83 min.) PG-13; crude humor, profanity, comic drug-related and violent content.
I KNOW WHO KILLED ME
(F) Lindsay Lohan risks life, two limbs and career credibility with a grotesquely hilarious horror tale — about a kidnap and torture victim who claims she’s someone else, raising questions of post-traumatic stress — that promises unspeakable tortures for star and audience alike. The first truly great bad movie of 2007. (105 min.) R; grisly violence including torture, disturbing gory images, sexuality, nudity, profanity.
I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY
(C-) I now pronounce you a comic misfire: Straight, single Brooklyn firefighters (Adam Sandler, Kevin James) pretend to be a gay couple so they can claim domestic partner benefits. One of those movies that wants it both ways, indulging in rude, crude, homophobic hijinks inevitably followed by not-that-there-anything- wrong-with-that reminders. Until then, it’s OK to laugh. Unless you’re too busy wincing at the strained comedy — and the strained logic. (115 min.) PG-13; crude sexual content, nudity, profanity, drug references. (C.C.)
LA VIE EN ROSE
(A) Encore: Back in Las Vegas following its debut at June’s CineVegas film festival, this scintillating, soulful and thoroughly impressionistic portrait of iconic French chanteuse Edith Piaf showcases Marion Cotillard’s knockout performance. Gerard Depardieu, Sylvie Testud and Emmanuelle Seigner ("The Ninth Gate") co-star for writer-director Olivier Dahan. In French with English subtitles. (140 min.) PG-13; substance abuse, sexual content, brief nudity, profanity, mature themes.
LICENSE TO WED
(D+) Dreaming of a traditional wedding, a newly engaged couple (Mandy Moore, "The Office’s" John Krasinski) schedules the big event, but can’t get the blessing of a charismatic church pastor (Robin Williams) — until they complete his patented marriage-prep course. Christine Taylor and De Ray Davis round out the cast of an alleged comedy where love goes out the window, followed by wit and good taste. It’s a one-joke affair — and that one joke isn’t even funny. (100 min.) PG-13; sexual humor, profanity.
LIONS 3D: ROAR OF THE KALAHARI
(B+) This award-winning National Geographic production, filmed in the wild by Tim Liversedge, goes 3-D, focusing on a lion king’s battle with a young challenger for control of his throne — and a valuable water hole in Botswana’s Kalahari desert. It’s not a new movie, but this remastered giant-screen version, now at the Luxor’s IMAX theater, has been magically transformed: you’re not merely there, you’re a lion, an honorary member of the pride. (40 min.) NR; animal violence.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
(C+) Yippie-ki-yay, y’all! After 12 years, the unstoppable John McClane (Bruce Willis) is once again tossed into a maelstrom of exploding machinery and impending disaster, this time from various corners of cyberspace as Internet terrorists plot to shut down the U.S. economy. Nothing more (or less) than a three-ring festival of intricate stunts and pyrotechnic effects, punctuated with clown routines and wisecracks that fly around almost as much as the shrapnel; you might not even mind that it’s too long. (130 min.) PG-13; violence, profanity.
MYSTERY OF THE NILE
(B+) This IMAX documentary, playing at the Luxor, chronicles the first descent of the Blue Nile from source to sea, a 3,250-mile, 114-day odyssey that brings explorers face-to-face with rapids, crocodiles, bandits, malaria, sandstorms and the fierce desert sun. (47 min.) NR; all ages.
(C) Break out the Alka-Seltzer: An uptight chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) finds child care on the menu when she becomes guardian of her niece ("Little Miss Sunshine’s" Abigail Breslin) in a bland translation of the delightful 2002 German comedy "Mostly Martha." Aaron Eckhart co-stars — as the resident free spirit — in a movie that doesn’t really leave a bad taste; it doesn’t leave much taste at all, save perhaps for the cloying echoes of Velveeta cheese. (103 min.) PG; sexual references, profanity.
(B-) Honor among thieves: When a megalomaniacal casino mogul (Al Pacino) double-crosses Reuben (Elliott Gould) before the opening of the Strip’s latest megaresort, Danny (George Clooney) and the gang (including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle and Andy Garcia) reunite for revenge in Neon Nirvana. This second sequel to the 2001 remake of the original 1960 Rat Pack romp (whew!) cruises along on the easy camaraderie and roguish charm of its all-star cast. (122 min.) PG-13; brief sexual references. (C.C.)
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END
(B-) Yo ho-hum — and then some — as this rollicking buccaneer band gets a few new hands on deck (including Chow Yun-Fat as a Singapore pirate lord) and resurrects some old friends — notably Geoffrey Rush as the scoundrelly Barbossa and, inevitably, the deliriously swishbuckling Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), who’d never let a little thing like being trapped in Davy Jones’ Locker interrupt his (or our) fun. This could use a lot more Depp (what movie couldn’t?), but delivers enough rib-tickling hijinks to power through occasional rough seas. (168 min.) PG-13; intense action/adventure sequences, frightening images. (C.C.)
(B+) Bon appetit: "Incredibles" writer-director Brad Bird serves up the summer’s tastiest animated treat as Remy, a rat with gourmet sensibilities, teams with a hapless kitchen helper to restore an on-the-skids Paris restaurant to glory. With its all-star vocal cast (including Ian Holm, Janeane Garofalo and, as the restaurant critic from hell, Peter O’Toole) and inventive slapstick routines that recall legendary silent clowns Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, "Ratatouille" ranks as a cinematic feast for kids of all ages. (110 min.) G; mild cartoon violence. (C.C.)
RUSH HOUR 3
(C-) After taking Las Vegas by storm in 2001’s "Rush Hour 2," detectives Lee (Jackie Chan) and Carter (Chris Tucker) head to Paris, where they tangle with Chinese Triads in another formulaic odd-couple-cop-buddy romp that’s equal parts dinner-theater revue and live-action Saturday-morning cartoon — a whirring, soulless pop product for those who don’t expect much more from a movie beyond cheap laughs and frantic diversion. (91 min.) PG-13 for sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity and language.
SHREK THE THIRD
(C+) Talk about your middle-aged spread: the latest installment in the fractured fairy-tale franchise proves it’s tough to generate laughs when we already know the joke. This time around, the title ogre (once again voiced by Mike Myers) and pals Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) search for an heir to the throne of Far, Far Away, while Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) plots to seize power with a little help from his villainous f(r)iends. (93 min.) PG; crude humor, suggestive content, swashbuckling action. (C.C.)
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE
(B+) "An Inconvenient Truth" collides with Springfield’s fun-tastic five in their raucously impudent big-screen debut, which piles up the "D’oh" as Homer faces the worst screw-up of a disaster-filled life — and tries to save the world from suffering the consequences. Series creators James L. Brooks and Matt Groening huddle with nine co-writers to winning effect; the usual suspects (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer) raise their voices in blissful contentiousness. (87 min.) PG-13; irreverent humor.
(D+) There’s not much bite to this preposterous werewolf tale about a soon-to-turn-13 boy (Matthew Knight) and his mother (Rhona Mitra) who become the targets of two warring werewolf packs — one good (embodied by Elias Koteas as his grizzled uncle Jonas), one evil (led by strapping "Roswell" stud Jason Behr). "Skinwalkers" is never able to escape its fundamental preposterousness. You’ve seen worse, but you’ve definitely seen better. (110 min.) PG-13; intense violence and action, sexual material, profanity.
(C) "The Princess Bride" it’s not. This adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s fractured fantasy follows a small-town lad (Charlie Cox) who promises his beloved he’ll retrieve a star that’s fallen into a nearby magical realm. Claire Danes (as the star’s human incarnation), Michelle Pfeiffer (as a scheming witch), Peter O’Toole (as a dying king) and Robert De Niro (as a flamboyant pirate who makes Capt. Jack Sparrow look like an "Ultimate Fighter" contestant) lead the starry cast, but this potentially entrancing storybook tale tries too hard. In a movie all about magic, the magic shouldn’t seem so maddeningly elusive. (125 min.) PG-13; fantasy violence, risqué humor. (C.C.)
(C+) Director Danny Boyle and writer Alex Garland ("28 Days Later") reteam for a futuristic adventure about an astronaut team (led by "Fantastic Four’s" Chris Evans, "28 Days Later’s" Cillian Murphy and "Memoirs of a Geisha’s" Michelle Yeoh) trying to perform shock treatment on a dying sun 50 years from now. Visually resplendent and tense for part of the way, but yesterday’s rewarmed oatmeal at its core. (108 min.) PG-13; violence, profanity.
TALK TO ME
(A) Sound off: Outspoken ex-con Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene (Don Cheadle) talks his way onto the radio, spinning soul music and raising social consciousness as a pioneer shock jock in 1960s Washington, D.C. One of those rare movies that’s both raucously entertaining and seriously thought-provoking, "Talk to Me" showcases the Oscar-caliber dream team of the incendiary Cheadle and the chameleonic Chiwetel Ejiofor (as Greene’s dapper, ambitious radio colleague). A smart script, a can’t-stop-the-beat soundtrack, spectacularly superfly costumes and Kasi Lemmons’ deft direction add up to one of the summer’s — and maybe the year’s — best movies. (118 min.) R; pervasive profanity, sexual situations, brief violence. (C.C.)
(B-) Rock-’em, sock-’em robots: The mechanical title characters have more personality than the flesh-and-blood ones in a big-screen version of the ’80s cartoon hit (inspired by the shape-shifting Hasbro toys), in which dueling robot aliens bring their extra-terrestrial war to Earth, where a goofy teen (adorkable Shia LaBeouf) unwittingly possesses the key to the conflict. Overlong, overblown, over-everything, but the muscle-car ‘tude and eye-popping effects trigger more miles of smiles per gallon than most of this summer’s rival blockbusters. (144 min.) PG-13; intense sci-fi action violence, sexual humor, profanity. (C.C.)
(C) The ’60s cartoon favorite goes live-action as a lab accident zaps a canine (voiced by Jason Lee) with serious superpowers — which he’ll need if he hopes to save Capitol City from maniacal scientist Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage) and his henchman Cad (Patrick Warburton). Lots of cute doggy talk, good tricks, a dollop of family melodrama and corny, cheesy humor that distracts without altogether numbing, but no best in show. (84 min.) PG; rude humor, mild profanity and action.
WHO’S YOUR CADDY?
(B-) A superstar rap mogul (Antwan "Big Boi" Patton) and his niblick-wielding crew of goofballs invade an uber-exclusive country club with surprisingly funny results. (Faizon Love, Sherri Shepherd and Finesse Mitchell lead the nimble supporting cast.) Yes, it’s the old racial dynamic rearing its malformed head, but this movie, which is far more indebted to "Caddyshack" than to W.E.B. DuBois, is smart enough to play for belly laughs, knowing the race issue will be out there floating anyway, like your opponent’s 400-yard tee shot. (93 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, nudity, profanity, drug material.