OPENING THIS WEEK
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER
“G.I. Joe’s” Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a lovelorn L.A. guy, an aspiring architect working at a greeting-card company, who falls for a quirky new co-worker (Zooey Deschanel) who doesn’t quite believe in love, everlasting or otherwise. Las Vegas’ own Matthew Gray Gubler (TV’s “Criminal Minds”) leads the supporting cast of this offbeat charmer, which returns to town following its June debut at the CineVegas film festival. At multiple locations. (95 min.) PG-13; sexual references, profanity.
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA
Forget those fighting soldiers you collected as a kid; this G.I. Joe isn’t an individual, it’s an entire fighting force, assigned to take on a notorious arms dealer’s evil organization. Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sienna Miller and Dennis Quaid lead the cast for “Mummy” director Stephen Sommers. At multiple locations. (118 min.) PG-13; strong action violence and mayhem.
JULIE & JULIA
Reviewed on Page 31.
A PERFECT GETAWAY
What would a summer movie weekend be without a vacation from hell? Two couples (played by Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez) must ponder the answer to that question when they discover that murderous psychos are sharing their romantic Hawaiian island idyll in this chiller from “Chronicles of Riddick” writer-director David Twohy. At multiple locations. (97 min.) R; graphic violence, profanity, sexual references, drug use.
Legendary writer-director Francis Ford Coppola continues his return to his indie roots in this drama about a young man (Alden Ehrenreich) who travels to Buenos Aires in search of his reclusive older brother (Vincent Gallo), a wreck of a writer whose unfinished play might provide clues to their shared past. Klaus Maria Brandauer plays the brothers’ domineering conductor father. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. At the Palms. (127 min.) NR; violence, profanity.
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.
ANGELS & DEMONS
(C+) Yes, it’s better than “The Da Vinci Code.” But that doesn’t make director Ron Howard’s bid for cinematic absolution good. Tom Hanks (shorn of his distracting “Da Vinci” tresses, but, thankfully, not his sense of humor) returns as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who’s called to the Vatican to stop a clandestine sect’s deadly terrorist plot before all Rome goes kablooey. Unlike the too-talky “Da Vinci,” this sequel does nothing but run and gun, yet far too many sequences that should keep you on the edge of your seat elicit a been-there, seen-that shrug. (138 min.) PG-13; violence, disturbing images, mature themes. (C.C.)
(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 his 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.
DRAG ME TO HELL
(B) “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi returns to his horror roots in this tale of a perky bank loan officer (a game Alison Lohman), ordered to evict an old woman (Lorna Raver) from her home, who falls victim to a supernatural curse. Justin Long and David Paymer co-star in this Raimi-esque mix of gross-out madness and sick laughs, which turns out to be a hell of a lot of fun — in a sick and twisted way, of course. (99 min.) PG-13; horror violence, terror, disturbing images, profanity.
(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.
(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. (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.
I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER
(D+) After a nerdy valedictorian (Paul Rust) proclaims his love for the title high school hottie (“Hero’s” Hayden Panetierre) during his graduation speech, she shows up at his door, determined to make his grad night one to remember. Alas, this insipid-yet-raunchy wannabe farce never gets close to unmasking its high school stereotypes — and the charmlessness of the central characters make it all the more difficult to endure. In other words, we hate you, “Beth Cooper.” (102 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, profanity, teen drinking, drug references, brief violence.
LAND OF THE LOST
(C-) 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. (93 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, profanity, drug references.
(B) Back in Las Vegas following its debut at June’s CineVegas film festival, this deceptively simple study of alienation, paranoia, and loneliness focuses on Sam (a virtuoso Sam Rockwell), an astronaut nearing the end of a three-year lunar stint. In his feature debut, director Duncan Jones (son of Mr. “Space Oddity” himself, David Bowie) conjures a hauntingly ominous tone, building a strange empathy — conspiratorial, tinged with dread — in the dialogues between Sam and his computer, voiced by the appropriately named Kevin Spacey. (97 min.) R; profanity.
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.
(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.)
(B) A blast from the past (and a blast, period), this relaunch of the venerable Starship Enterprise delivers, saluting the 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 — 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 TAKING OF PELHAM 123
(C+) A regular-guy dispatcher (Denzel Washington) matches wits with a criminal mastermind (John Travolta) who hijacks a New York subway car and promises to start slaughtering the passengers if $10 million isn’t delivered within the hour. Travolta and Washington have a blast as the cat-and-mouse adversaries, but this remake of a 1974 thriller isn’t quite as much fun as they are, in part because director Tony Scott’s overheated, perpetual-motion visual style often distracts, and detracts, from the suspense he’s trying (too) hard to create. (106 min.) R; violence, profanity. (C.C.)
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.)
VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR
(B) If you associate the Valentino name with the legendary silent screen idol, think again — this air kiss of a documentary focuses on the legendary (and amusingly imperious) Italian designer Valentino, his longtime companion/business partner Giancarlo Giammetti — and how the fashion industry has changed in the 50 years Valentino reigned over the world of haute couture. In English, Italian and French with English subtitles. (96 min.) PG-13; nudity, profanity.
(B+) Writer-director Woody Allen returns home to New York for this light, but far from slight, comedy about the unlikely romance between a misanthropic physicist (“Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” Larry David, a kvetchy hoot) and a Mississippi runaway (deadpan Evan Rachel Wood), whose departure soon brings her mother (sensationally sly Patricia Clarkson) to the Big Apple. Allen once again shows off his trademark wit and his insightful view of human nature as he shifts between the seriously and the silly, creating yet another profound — and profoundly funny — exploration of what fools we mortals be. (92 min.) PG-13; sexual situations and references, brief nude images, mature themes. (C.C.)
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
(C+) Hugh Jackman returns as Marvel Comics’ angry, adamantium-clawed title character in a prequel that explores how he’s driven to join the for-mutants-only Weapons X program — by the murderous back-stabbing of his lifelong brother-in-arms, Sabretooth (a smilingly sinister Liev Schreiber). The mega-buff Jackman gives it his all, but his appealing humanity can’t overcome the overwrought tedium. (107 min.) PG-13; intense action and violence, partial nudity. (C.C.)
(D+) Banished from their primitive village, two lazy hunter-gatherers (Jack Black and Michael Cera) embark on an odyssey across the ancient world, where they encounter Old Testament characters and visit Sodom, where they must rescue members of their village from slavery. Despite the reliable names in front of and behind the camera (including director Harold Ramis and producer Judd Apatow), this is a dud of near-epic proportions. (100 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, brief profanity, comic violence.