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THE GRAND 2 stars (R) Director Zak Penn follows the model of Christopher Guest comedies such as Best in Show with this irreverent, largely improvised take on high-stakes poker. The Grand conveys Las Vegas's unglamorous underbelly and features a likable cast, including Woody Harrelson, Cheryl Hines, David Cross and Chris Parnell. Penn lacks Guest's gift for turning testy behavior and desperate blather into narrative momentum, though, and the little throwaway gags tend to be more amusing than the central set pieces. — Holman
IN BRUGES 3 stars (R) Two Irish hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) lay low in Belgium's preserved medieval town of Bruges in this hipster thriller from brash young playwright Martin McDonagh. McDonagh proves that his knack for compelling, profanely funny dialogue can transfer from stage to screen, although at times he traffics in disposable themes that don't quite justify the savage behavior on screen. In Bruges suggests Pulp Fiction's "Royale with Cheese" scene, if we'd followed John Travolta to Europe. — Holman
JUNO 4 stars (PG-13) An insanely funny script by Diablo Cody and bone-dry comic timing provided by Ellen Page make Juno feel like the breakout indie of the year. Page is a knocked-up 16-year-old who decides to hand over her child to a couple (Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner) she thinks are desperate for a baby. Things turn out to be more complicated, and much sweeter than this attitudinal comedy initially suggests. — Feaster
LEATHERHEADS 3 stars (PG-13) In his third directorial outing, George Clooney plays the aging captain of a failing 1920s pro football team who sees his modest star eclipsed by a Princeton sports star/war hero (John Krasinski of "The Office"). Some of the broader slapstick scenes fail to snap in Leatherheads' homage to 1930s screwball comedy, and Renee Zellweger's reporter seems like too much of a stock character, but Clooney shows enough of a self-deprecating sense of humor and ease with male camaraderie to make Leatherheads the equivalent of an enjoyable, forgettable halftime show. — Holman
NIM'S ISLAND (PG) When Nim's father goes missing from the magical island they live on, Nim must find help from the author of her favorite books. Based on the book by Wendy Orr.
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN 4 stars (R) The Coen brothers make a rousing return to form in this Texas crime drama that strips away their trademark irony for brilliant, suspenseful set pieces. Josh Brolin's Vietnam vet, Tommy Lee Jones' aging sheriff and Javier Bardem's ruthless hitman engage in a three-way chase on either side of the Rio Grande. Don't let the anticlimactic ending sour you on the superb filmmaking. — Holman
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (PG-13) Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson star as the Boleyn sisters, whose ambitious family drives them to compete for King Henry VIII's affections as a pathway to the throne. The Other Boleyn Girl is based on the novel by Philippa Gregory.
PARANOID PARK 3 stars (R) Director Gus Van Sant's relentless focus on the point of view on teenagers continues in Paranoid Park, a drama about a teenage boy whose foggy equilibrium turns into a nightmare after a stranger at the underground skate park invites him to the freight yard to hop a train. Devastating complications arise and the slo-mo idyll becomes a nightmare. Van Sant aims to capture the floating, random, free-associative pitch of teenage life. In his rhythms he has succeeded, even if the overall impression feels frustratingly unfocused, even inconsequential. — Feaster
PENELOPE 1 star (PG) Christina Ricci is Penelope, a rich girl saddled with a family curse that has endowed her with a pig snout in this badly mangled attempt at fairy-tale whimsy. Her mother's (Catherine O'Hara) efforts to find Penelope a blue-blood husband despite the piggy mug unearth sensitive hunk James McAvoy, but this film's tween-directed message that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a joyless washout in the end. -- Feaster
THE RUINS (R) Four young tourists wander away from American-friendly Cancun and into a terrifying bloodbath.
RUN, FAT BOY, RUN 2 stars (PG-13) Five years after leaving his pregnant fiancée (Thandie Newton) at the altar, lovable "unfit" loser Dennis (Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead) vows to run a London marathon to win her back from her rich American boyfriend Whit (Hank Azaria). Pegg affirms his skills as a humorous, ingratiating lead, but the directorial debut of "Friends'" David Schwimmer looks more like a heavy-handed English rom-com like Bridget Jones' Diary than Pegg's ingenious efforts like Hot Fuzz. — Holman