MOVIES

In Australia, a young man (Rocky Mckenzie), who has returned to a religious mission for schooling, runs away after being punished for an act of youthful rebellion and embarks on a life-changing journey. Co-starring Geoffrey Rush, Missy Higgins, Ernie Dingo and Jessica Mauboy. Rachel Perkins directs. At Suncoast. (88 min.) PG-13; sexual content and drug use.

CASE 39

A social worker (Renee Zellweger) fights to save a girl (“Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s” Jodelle Ferland) from her abusive parents, only to discover that the situation is more dangerous than she ever expected, in this long-delayed chiller co-starring Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane. Christian Alvart (“Pandorum”) directs. At multiple locations. (109 min.) R; violence and terror, disturbing images.

CATFISH

Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost documented the story of New York photographer Nev, Ariel’s brother, and Abby, an 8-year-old girl from Michigan, who contacted Nev via Facebook, asking for permission to make a painting from one of his photographs. At Town Square. ( 94 min.) PG-13; some sexual references.

CHAIN LETTER

A high school senior (Nikki Reed) and her friends receive a series of foreboding e-mail chain letters and are then hunted down when they break the chain. Co-starring Noah Segan, Keith David, Brad Dourif, Betsy Russell, Ling Bai and Matthew Cohen. Directed by Deon Taylor. At multiple locations. (96 min.) R; strong bloody sadistic violence throughout, profanity and brief nudity.

JACK GOES BOATING

Two single people pursue a relationship while the couple that introduced them confront unresolved issues in their marriage. Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”) and based on Bob Glaudini’s adapted screenplay of his acclaimed Off-Broadway play. Starring Hoffman, John Ortiz (“Pride and Glory”), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Broadway’s “Rent”) and Amy Ryan (“Gone Baby Gone”). At Village Square. (89 min.) R; some sexual content, drug use and profanity.

LET ME IN

A bullied boy (“The Road’s” Kodi Smit-McPhee) befriends a young vampire girl (“Kick-Ass’ ” Chloe Moretz), living in secrecy with her enigmatic guardian (Richard Jenkins), in this English-language revamp of 2008’s acclaimed Swedish vampire tale “Let the Right One In” from “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves. At multiple locations. (115 min.) R; strong bloody horror violence, profanity, brief sexual situations.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Reviewed on Page 31.

A WOMAN, A GUN AND A NOODLE SHOP

A Chinese noodle shop owner (Ni Dahong) bribes a patrol officer to kill his wife (Ni Yan) and employee (Xiao Shen-Yang), who are having an affair, but the plan goes awry. Zhang Yimou (“House of Flying Daggers,” “Hero”) directs the film inspired by Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Blood Simple.” In Chinese (Mandarin) with English subtitles. At Suncoast. (95 min.) R; some violence.

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.

ALPHA AND OMEGA

(C-) Two wolves at opposite ends of their pack’s social order (voiced by Justin Long and Hayden Panetierre), transferred to an Idaho park, must work together to find their way home to Canada in this animated adventure that boasts advanced 3-D — you’ve never seen dog drool this real — but a script that’s a let-down in the humor and heart department. A howl, but not in a good way. (88 min.) PG; rude humor, mild action.

THE AMERICAN

(B) An assassin (George Clooney) hiding out in an Italian village, prepares for one last job in this quiet, haunting thriller from “Control” director Anton Corbijn. Irina Bjorklund leads the supporting cast of this beautifully shot but overly familiar (and deliberately paced) tale. It would be nice if Corbijn eased up on the mournful seriousness, but there’s no denying that “The American” is transfixing in its muted grace. (105 min.) R; violence, sexual content, nudity.

ANIMAL KINGDOM

(A) A Melbourne 17-year-old (James Frecheville) tries to navigate the treacherous territory between his small-time crime family and the detective (Guy Pearce) who thinks he can save him in this award-winning Australian thriller. Watching this crime clan (played by, among others, the startling Jaki Weaver) unravel under the weight of their overconfidence is riveting as debut writer-director David Michold details their self-destruction. (113 min.) R; violence, drug content, pervasive profanity.

CATS & DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE

(B) Calling a truce, canines and felines team up to thwart the rogue title character (voiced by a deliciously over-the-top Bette Midler) in this 3-D talking-critters spy spoof, a sequel to 2001’s “Cats & Dogs.” Along with the fur, the jokes fly fast and furious, but the visual effects too often look fake. Still, it’s a delightful idea that cats and dogs not only enjoy a rich interior life while humans are away, but also function as highly trained super spies, complete with elaborate gadgetry. (82 min.) PG; animal action and humor.

DESPICABLE ME

(B) Assisted by a legion of jabbering, goggle-eyed Minions, the villainous Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) plots to outwit a nerdy rival (voiced by Jason Segal) by committing the world’s most dastardly crime — until a trio of adorable orphan girls changes his focus from bad to dad. This cheeky computer-animated tale combines deftly detailed animation, impish slapstick humor and expert use of 3-D, entertaining kids and their parents with equal flair. (95 min.) PG; rude humor, mild action. (C.C.)

DEVIL

(C) M. Night Shyamalan indulges his preachy, messianic side as creator and producer (but not screenwriter or director) of this quasi-religious supernatural thriller, a tidy tale about Satan himself picking off folks (Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Bokeem Woodbine, Jenny O’Hara, Logan Marshall-Green) trapped in an elevator in a Philadelphia high-rise while cops and security guards (Chris Messina, Jacob Vargas, Matt Craven) look on in horror via closed-circuit TV. The sort of story Rod Serling would have taken for a “Twilight Zone” spin back in the day, “Devil” delivers chills in a compact, efficient package. (80 min.) PG-13; violence and disturbing images, thematic material, profanity, sexual references.

DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS

(C) Not much bite: “Anchorman” and “40 Year-Old Virgin” castmates Steve Carell and Paul Rudd reunite for an undercooked remake of the 1998 French farce “The Dinner Game,” about a monthly competition where the guest who impresses is the one who brings the biggest buffoon to the party. Rudd’s a financial analyst up for promotion; Carell’s a nerdy IRS agent (and amateur taxidermist) who might be his ticket to the top. Both work hard to bring some heart to the proceedings, but “The Dinner Game’s” sharp satire of pretension has become a draggy exercise in strained slapstick. (114 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, partial nudity, profanity. (C.C.)

DINOSAURS 3D: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA

(B) If you like dinosaurs (who doesn’t?), you’ll love this 3-D documentary, which follows paleontologist Rodolfo Coria as he tramps the rugged wilds of 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.

EASY A

(B) A sarcastic, witty teen (“Zombieland’s” winning Emma Stone) uses her high school’s rumor mill to enhance her bad-girl reputation when word gets around that she’s no longer a virgin. This smart, sassy teen comedy (featuring Amanda Bynes, “Hellcats’ Aly Michalka and “Gossip Girl’s” Penn Badgley) hearkens back to those golden ’80s days of John Hughes — right down to scene-stealing adult performances from the likes of Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci and Lisa Kudrow. (93 min.) PG-13; mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, profanity, drug material. (C.C.)

EAT PRAY LOVE

(C) When she discovers that she’s not as happily married as she thought, a writer (a decorative, if hardly deep, Julia Roberts) embarks on an international quest to find herself. Along the way, she finds a few others — including scene-stealers Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins — in a slick adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir from writer-director Ryan Murphy (“Glee”). A picturesque but far from profound, this asks us to accompany a privileged protagonist who’s too wrapped up in herself to appreciate her blessings — or make us feel her pain. (133 min.) PG-13; brief profanity, sexual references, male rear nudity. (C.C.)

THE EXPENDABLES

(D+) Mucho macho: Veteran tough guys Sylvester Stallone (who also co-writes and directs), Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren (alias Sly’s “Rocky IV” opponent Ivan Drago), Randy Couture and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin flex their muscles as mercenaries heading South American way on a mission to overthrow a corrupt general (David Zayas) and a rogue CIA agent (Eric Roberts). An exercise in nostalgia for a bygone era, “The Expendables” is willfully out of date, like an aged hair band that can’t pack away the spandex. (103 min.) R; strong action and bloody violence, profanity.

GET LOW

(B+) In 1930s Tennessee, a backwoods hermit (a perfectly cast, peak-form Robert Duvall) abruptly ends 40 years of seclusion to arrange a “living funeral” — so he can hear what folks have to say about him while he’s still around. Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Lucas Black and Bill Cobbs provide terrific support in this old-fashioned, fact-based comedy-drama, which builds considerable charm through its characters, performances and rich period feel. In all, a promising feature debut for cinematographer-turned-director Aaron Schneider, already an Oscar-winner for the live-action short “Two Soldiers.” (103 min.) PG-13; thematic material, brief violence. (C.C.)

THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE

(C) In the first of two sequels to the hit Swedish thriller “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” based on Stieg Larsson’s best-selling trilogy, ace computer hacker Lisbeth Salander (the ferocious Noomi Rapace) is helping crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist (Michael Nykvist) investigate a sex-trafficking ring — until she’s forced to go on the run after being accused of multiple murders. Uneven, repetitive and occasionally nonsensical, this feels like a hasty knockoff compared to its far-superior predecessor, but it still offers a fair dose of suspense and action for those who can stomach its brutal violence. In Swedish with English subtitles. (129 min.) R; brutal violence including rape, strong sexual content, nudity, profanity.

INCEPTION

(B) Pretzel logic: “Dark Knight” writer-director Christopher Nolan’s intriguingly twisty sci-fi thriller focuses on a team of dream raiders, led by heartbreak-haunted Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), who must test their expertise when they’re hired to plant an idea in the mind of a dying industrialist’s heir (Cillian Murphy). Slyly witty Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whip-smart Ellen Page and femme fatale Marion Cotillard provide invaluable support, but it’s Nolan’s mind-bending visions — from dazzling dreamscapes to knockout action sequences — that dominate this three-dimensional puzzle of a movie. (148 min.) PG-13; violence, action. (C.C.)

THE LAST EXORCISM

(B) An evangelical preacher (Patrick Fabian) who’s been performing exorcisms for 25 years, knowing all the while that they’re a sham, agrees to let a camera crew expose his tricks as he “performs” one last exorcism on a rural teen (Ashley Bell, extraordinary) — until his final close encounter with demonic possession turns terrifyingly real. This faux documentary is one of the scariest movies to come along in awhile, until it falls apart in its last five minutes. (87 min.) PG-13; disturbing violent content and terror, sexual references, thematic material.

LEBANON

(B+) In this award-winning Israeli drama — inspired by writer-director Samuel Maoz’s experiences during the 1982 Lebanon war — a lone tank dispatched to search a hostile town finds its simple mission turning into a nightmare. It may sound like “Das Boot” in a tank, but “Lebanon” gives us viscerally violent, intensely distressing glimpses into war’s annihilation of people, places, and communities, as Moaz and his camera crew keep us remarkably involved, visually navigating the close quarters with ingenuity and, inevitably, heartbreak. In Hebrew, Arabic, French and English, with English subtitles. (93 min.) R; disturbing bloody war violence, profanity, sexual references, nudity.

LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE

(C+) Director Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen”) switches from live-action to animation with this adventure (based on the first three books in a 15-volume series by children’s author Kathryn Lasky) about a kidnapped owlet (voiced by Jim Sturgess) caught up in an epic battle between the noble Guardian owls and the evil Pure Ones. A derivative script and sequences too scary for little kids undermine the classy vocal cast (Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill, Hugo Weaving and Anthony LaPaglia lend their voices) and stunning visuals (especially spectacular landscapes and thrilling flying sequences) that look even more stunning in 3-D and IMAX 3D. (90 min.) PG; scary action.

LOTTERY TICKET

(C) A recent high school grad (all-grown-up Bow Wow), dreaming of creating his own shoe line but still working at Foot Locker, tries to keep a secret from his nosy neighbors: he’s holding a lottery ticket that entitles him to a $370-million jackpot. The feature debut from longtime music video director Erik White, this starts out amiably enough but eventually develops a weirdly violent streak. At the ensemble cast (Ice Cube, Keith David, Loretta Devine, Naturi Naughton, Brandon T. Jackson and Mike Epps) keeps things sporadically enjoyable. (99 min.) PG-13; sexual content, profanity, drug references, violence, brief underage drinking.

MACHETE

(C+) In the first movie (so far) spawned by those hilarious “Grindhouse” trailers, Danny Trejo plays the Texas-based title character, a former Mexican cop on a vengeful rampage against drug dealers, brutal politicians and other assorted baddies. Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Maniquis (who edited “Planet Terror,” Rodriguez’s half of “Grindhouse”) maintain a fair amount of the wicked humor and every bit of the savage bloodshed promised in the make-believe trailer, but (like most of Rodriguez’s’ movies), this one’s never as fun — or funny — as he thinks it is. (105 min.) R; strong bloody violence, profanity, sexual content, nudity.

MAO’S LAST DANCER

(C+) A Chinese peasant boy trains at the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, goes to the U.S. on a cultural exchange — and defects to the U.S. during a cultural exchange when he falls in love with an American — in a fact-based drama featuring Chi Cao, Bruce Greenwood, Kyle MacLachlan and Joan Chen. Director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy,” “Tender Mercies”) overplays the movie’s hokey script at every turn, pirouette and plie; this tale of artistic aspirations and international politics comes packed with more corn than an Iowa silo. (117 min.) PG; brief violent image, sexual references, profanity, incidental smoking.

NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS

(C+) The magical title nanny (Emma Thompson, who also scripted) returns to rescue harried mom Maggie Gyllenhaal, trying to run the family farm while her husband (Ewan McGregor) is off fighting in World War II. Rhys Ifans (as a scoundrelly brother-in-law), Maggie Smith (as a ditzy shopkeeper) and Ralph Fiennes co-star in this sequel to the family-friendly 2005 fantasy, which obviously owes much to P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins displays a warm naturalism and an old-fashioned cheerfulness uncommon to most of today’s kids movies. (109 min.) PG; rude humor, profanity, mild thematic elements.

THE OTHER GUYS

(B-) Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg make an amusingly arresting team as mismatched New York City detectives — one a by-the-book desk jockey, the other a street guy itching for action — who labor in the shadow of flashy supercop colleagues (Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson) until they stumble onto Wall Street chicanery. Not the bust-a-gut buddy-cop spoof it wants to be — it careens between action and comedy too much for that — but even when spinning its wheels, its intermittent goofiness makes it easy enough to go along for the ride. (107 min.) PG-13; crude and sexual content, profanity, violence, drug material. (C.C.)

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE

(D) With the world ravaged by a viral infection that transforms its victims into the Undead, Alice (Milla Jovovich, more decently clothed this time around) continues her quest to find survivors and lead them to safety — and her battle with the Umbrella Corp. Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller co-star for director Paul W.S. Anderson (Jovovich’s husband), a serious contender for worst filmmaker in the biz, in the fourth installment of the “Resident Evil” franchise — the first to go 3-D. Which, alas, doesn’t help improve this witless workout full of morphing zombies, phoned-in performances and trite dialogue. (90 min.) R; strong violence, profanity.

SALT

(C+) Who is Salt? Who cares? When a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy, CIA agent Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie, in a role originally written for Tom Cruise) goes on the run. This hyperkinetic thriller shows off Jolie’s action chops — and those of director Philip Noyce (“Clear and Present Danger”), who delivers a muscular, gritty and propulsive action tale that’s also utterly ludicrous and lacking the slighted shred of humanity. As a result, “Salt” makes the supposedly engrossing ridiculously predictable, stranding such stalwart actors as Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the process. (100 min.) PG-13; intense sequences of violence and action. (C.C.)

SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

(C) A 20-something Toronto slacker (callow Michael Cera, in desperate need of a new gig) who plays bass for a struggling rock band falls for an intriguing Amazon delivery girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) — and must battle her seven evil exes to win her — in a movie that plays like a video game, complete with vibrantly wacky visuals and rocket-powered pacing. Too bad this self-proclaimed “epic of epic epicness” seems so entranced by its own style that it doesn’t notice, or care, the missing character development and a storyline that does nothing other than reset and repeat ad nauseam. (112 min.) PG-13; stylized violence, sexual content, profanity, drug references. (C.C.)

THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE

(C+) No “Treasure”: Nicolas Cage reteams with “National Treasure” director Jon Turteltaub (and uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer) for a live-action adventure inspired by the animated “Fantasia” sequence featuring Mickey Mouse in the title role. This time around, the apprentice is everyday guy Jay Baruchel (the voice of “How to Train Your Dragon’s” Hiccup), who’s recruited by sorcerer Balthazar Blake (Cage) to assist him in his battle against dapper nemesis Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina,”Spider-Man 2’s” Doc Ock). Doesn’t exactly conjure bedazzling magic, but it’s a pleasant-enough mix of effects, action and comedy that should send parents and kids home happy. (121 min.) PG; violence, frightening scenes.

THE SWITCH

(C) A 40-something TV executive (Jennifer Aniston), determined to undergo artificial insemination, never realizes that her best friend (scene-stealing Jason Bateman) has replaced her sperm donor’s contribution with his own, triggering inevitable comic complications in a romantic comedy that’s bright, breezy and utterly predictable. There are worse things than watching attractive people tie themselves into knots as they attempt to unravel their overly complicated lives, but there are lots better things too. Just don’t expect to see them here. (100 min.) PG-13; mature thematic content, sexual material including dialogue, nudity, drug use, profanity. (C.C.)

TAKERS

(C) Lifestyles of the rich and lawless: When smooth criminals (Idris Elba, Hayden Christensen, Paul Walker, Michael Ealy and Chris Brown) pull off a Los Angeles bank heist, a dogged detective (Matt Dillon) gives chase in a movie that recycles the usual cops-and-robbers claptrap to little effect. In great heist movies, the characters are as complex as the caper; in good heist movies, it’s usually one out of two. But “Takers” goes 0-for-2, emerging as a routine workout that’s not exactly redeemed by its attractive cast or rock-’em, sock-’em action sequences. (107 min.) PG-13; intense violence and action, sexual situations, partial nudity, profanity, drug references. (C.C.)

THE TOWN

(B) In an arresting crime thriller co-written, directed by and starring Ben Affleck, two wild cards threaten the continuing success of a blue-collar Boston heist crew: a hard-charging FBI agent (“Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm) and the fact that the crew leader (Affleck) is falling for a witness (memorably vulnerable Rebecca Hall) who could put them all in jail. “Hurt Locker’s” electrifyingly intense Jeremy Renner winds up stealing the movie from actor Affleck, but it’s a mark of honor that director Affleck lets him get away with it. (125 min.) R; strong violence, pervasive profanity, sexual situations, drug use. (C.C.)

TOY STORY 3

(A) The wonderful folks from Pixar ride to the rescue of a bummer movie summer with this more-than-equal second sequel, a delightful kids-of-all-ages animated adventure in which Andy heads off to college and his beloved toys — led by cowboy Woody and space ranger Buzz — find a new life at a deceptively sunny day-care center. Voiced by all-star returnees Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack (among others), plus such standout newcomers as Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton and Timothy Dalton, these cartoon characters have vastly more humor, personality, heart — and substance — than most of their live-action counterparts. (103 min.) G; all ages. (C.C.)

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE

(C) With a new director (“30 Days of Night’s” David Slade) at the helm of the third chapter of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire franchise, plus a stronger story, “Eclipse” manages to do what its two dreadfully dumb predecessors could not: It almost makes believers out of those of us who don’t much care whether Kristen Stewart’s moon-eyed teen Bella Swan chooses vampire stud Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) or werewolf hunk Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Trouble is, “Eclipse” is still pretty dumb — not that this franchise’s legions of fans will care. (124 min.) PG-13; intense action and violence, sexual references.

VAMPIRES SUCK

(D) What’s in a name? An all-too-accurate description of the movie when it’s “Vampires Suck,” a scene-by-scene vamp of the Stephenie Meyer “Twilight” movies — with the odd “True Blood,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Gossip Girl,” Kardashian and Lady Gaga gag tossed in — from the folks who brought you “Disaster Movie,” “Date Movie,” “Meet the Spartans” and a lot of other lame parodies. Even by the standards of these things, which rely on an onslaught of jokey references to float, “Suck” s(t)inks. (88 min.) R; crude sexual content, comic violence, profanity, teen partying.

THE VIRGINITY HIT

(D-) Privacy is so 20th century: “Last Exorcism” screenwriters Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland switch genres with this mockumentary tale of horny teens (charmless Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Justin Kline) hoping to document the sexual initiation of their nerdy pal (Matt Bennett) — on the Internet. This repellent little “comedy” (from executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay), being marketed as “American Pie” for the Facebook generation, is more like ” ‘Porky’s’ for Dummies,” a depressing teen farce in which Internet voyeurism has replaced human intimacy. (87 min.) R; strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive profanity, drug and alcohol use.

WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS

(B) Greed is still good: Michael Douglas reprises his Oscar-winning role as Mr. Greed-Is-Good himself, Gordon Gekko, in Oliver Stone’s timely sequel to 1987’s “Wall Street.” But this time it’s a supporting role — Gekko’s just out of prison and trying to reconcile with his estranged daughter (“An Education’s” Carey Mulligan), who’s involved with a young Wall Street whiz (Shia LaBeouf) trying to negotiate shark-infested investment waters. Frank Langella and Josh Brolin (Stone’s “W.” star) deliver sterling support as Wall Street titans old and new in an overstuffed tale that’s still surprisingly entertaining, despite its topical-depression subject matter. (133 min.) PG-13; brief profanity, thematic elements. (C.C.)

YOU AGAIN

(C-) When bad movies happen to good people: Despite a top-chop cast led by Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kristin Bell, this strained comedy — about past high-school frenemies whose daughters are destined to clash at a family wedding — traps its talented cast members in a mechanical, predictable romp that arranges the inevitable complications like dominoes carefully designed to fall on cue. Not even the presence of Betty White, as hot-to-(fox)trot Grandma Bunny, can help. (105 min.) PG; brief profanity, rude behavior. (C.C.)

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