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THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD 2 stars (PG) The title character of The Great Buck Howard, played by John Malkovich, prefers to be identified as a "mentalist." Old-school hypnotism and hints of telepathy anchor his old-fashioned stage act, along with threadbare jokes and a half-spoken rendition of "What the World Needs Now." The film proves to be more focused and plot-driven than Christopher Guest's improvised ensemble comedies about pop culture bottom-feeders, but fails to give Buck an adequate foil. — Holman
HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE Like watching Coal Miner's Daughter in reverse, a young pop singer struggles to leave the stage for a life in the Appalachians.
THE INFORMERS 2 stars (R) This year's cinematic flashback to the 1980s evokes the pretentious "brat pack" literature of the decade with this adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis short story collection, published in the 1990s but set in 1983. Primarily the film follows a group of vacuous, spoiled young Los Angelenos, one of whom (Jon Foster) wonders if there's more to life than drugs and group sex. The young actors prove uniformly terrible, while the performers playing the older generation, including Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke, deliver more substantive, if underwritten, performances. Unlike such energetic Ellis adaptations as American Psycho and Rules of Attraction, The Informers takes Ellis' superficial observations at face value. — Holman
THE INTERNATIONAL 2 stars (R) An Interpol agent (Clive Owen) and a New York City attorney (Naomi Watts) try to build a case against a corrupt global bank, but all their potential witnesses end up dead. Inspired by the BCCI banking scandal of the 1990s, The International hits the national mood just right — what better time to attack financial institutions than during a global financial meltdown? Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer offers technically proficient spy-type thrills, but the film wavers uncertainly between loud action movie and tub-thumping economic populism. — Holman
IS ANYBODY THERE? 3 stars (PG-13) Angry, aging magician “The Amazing Clarence” (Michael Caine) unwillingly moves into an English couple’s modest old-age home where he gradually befriends a ghost-obsessed boy (Bill Milner). Caine’s rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light performance redeems an otherwise predictable script, which features David Morrissey as a dad facing a midlife crisis. — Holman
I LOVE YOU, MAN (R) A bromantic comedy about the struggles of Paul Rudd to find the best man for his wedding.
KNOWING (PG-13) Would you believe that a time capsule dug up at your child's elementary school could predict the future? If you were in this movie, the latest in a string of Nicolas Cage historical thrillers, you would.
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT This by-the-book horror remake involves parents taking violent revenge against the man who attacked their daughter.
MISS MARCH A couple dude-brahs chase down the centerfold model that they used to know. Expect a few good fart jokes.
MONSTERS VS. ALIENS 2 stars (PG) After a meteorite causes a mild-mannered bride (Reese Witherspoon) to attain ginormous proportions, she and other misfits of science are enlisted by the U.S. government to repel an obnoxious alien called Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson). Despite the film's advances in 3-D animation, especially in some spectacular action scenes, Monsters vs. Aliens takes a giant step backward for DreamWorks following the charm and warmth of Kung Fu Panda. The monstrous main characters prove quite endearing, but the weak, mean-spirited jokes and pointless pop references suggest that pod people replaced the screenwriters. — Holman
MOSCOW, BELGIUM 3 stars (NR) In the working-class Belgian neighborhood that gives the film its title, a 41-year-old mother of three (Barbara Sarafian) dates a passionate, mercurial 29-year-old trucker (Jurgen Delnaet). Director Christophe Van Rompaey helms a lovely, bittersweet romantic-comedy reminiscent of Mike Leigh's dramedies in working-class England. The film shows an intriguing, ambivalent attitude about romance, and showcases Sarafian's unglamorous but lovely and deeply felt performance that deserves the kind of recognition given to Melissa Leo's Oscar-nominated turn in Frozen River. — Holman
OBSERVE AND REPORT 3 stars (R) Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), the gung-ho, bipolar head of security at a dreary shopping mall, tracks a fugitive flasher as a means to impress Brandi (Anna Faris), a gorgeous airhead at the cosmetics counter. You know how Will Ferrell usually plays deluded, flailing man-boys? Here, Rogen and writer-director Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) take a comparable role and reveal just how dangerously unstable heíd be in real life, spilling a slob comedy into unsettling Martin Scorsese territory. Observe and Report earns a commendation for getting inside the head of its antiheroic lead, although it lets a few too many laughs get off scott free. — Holman
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