Film Clips 

Capsule reviews of recently reviewed films

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CHRISTMAS IN WONDERLAND (PG) Been wondering where Patrick Swayze's been? He's back, to star as Wayne, a father stuck with his kids doing the holiday shopping. When they find a bag of counterfeit money at the mall, they inadvertently help catch the crooks. Directed by James Orr (Blowing Smoke).

THE COMEBACKS (PG-13) In Tom Brady's (The Hot Chick) spoof on classic sports films Rocky, Field of Dreams and the like, unlucky coach Champ Fields (David Koechner) is hired to coach a talentless and deranged college football team.

CONTROL 3 stars (R) Stylish black-and-white ode to the lead singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis (Sam Riley), who killed himself in 1980 at age 23. Riley is charismatic in his onstage performances, and Samantha Morton as his bedraggled, wretchedly love-starved wife keeps this from being the one-note story of a suffocated, tortured artist.-- Felicia Feaster

DAN IN REAL LIFE (PG-13) Steve Carell stars as Dan Burns, an advice columnist whose relationship expertise fails to serve him in his own life. Peter Hedges directs (Pieces of April).

THE DARJEELING LIMITED 3 stars (R) Three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) embark on a so-called "spiritual journey" across India by train, but struggle against their petty habits and sibling rivalry. Rushmore director Wes Anderson expands his artful but precious visual style through the bustling, shifting Indian landscape, but still keeps the audience at a distance from the characters. -- Holman

ENCHANTED (PG) Kevin Lima (Eloise at Christmastime) directs in this Disney fairy tale meets modern-day New York City. A fairy-tale princess from the past (Amy Adams) gets thrown into present day by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon).

FRED CLAUS 2 stars (PG) Santa's bitter older brother Fred (Vince Vaughn) reluctantly moves back to the North Pole after St. Nick (Paul Giamatti) bails him out of jail. Vaughn and Wedding Crashers director David Dobkin try to mix the caustic comedy of Bad Santa with the yuletide whimsy of The Santa Clause and inevitably fall short of either goal. The last half hour finds some nice moments, and Giamatti's winning performance takes Santa from patient to anxious to outraged. -- Holman

FRESHMAN ORIENTATION 0 stars (R) In a word: Don't. Director Ryan Shiraki tries for a hip, gay spin on frat-boy collegiate comedy in this tale of an on-the-make freshman (Sam Huntington) who thinks he can get into the pants of a sorority girl (Kaitlin Doubleday) if he pretends to be gay. -- Feaster

THE GAME PLAN (PG) Andy Fickman directs this story about superstar quarterback Joe Kingman (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who must end his bachelor ways following the discovery of a daughter he never knew he had. Kyra Sedgwick stars as Joe's tough-talking agent.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS 2 stars (PG-13) On a parallel Earth where human souls manifest as animal companions, plucky young Lyra (terrific newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) uses a magic artifact to get to the frozen north and thwart conspiratorial child-snatchers, led by Nicole Kidman. About a Boy director Chris Weitz presents a well-cast, well-intentioned botch of the first book of Philip Pullman's fantasy series. -- Holman

GONE BABY GONE 3 stars (R) Movie star Ben Affleck makes a reasonably effective directorial debut, casting his younger brother Casey as a private detective hired to investigate a high-profile kidnapping. The director counterbalances the studied Boston accent and conspicuous Catholic imagery with taut suspense scenes and some strong performances (notably Ed Harris as a driven police officer), and the film's admirable embrace of ethical ambiguities gives audiences something to argue about on the way home. ­-- Holman

HITMAN (NR) Gun-for-hire Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is hired by a group to kill targets for cash.

IMAX THEATER The Alps Follow John Harlin III in MacGillivray Freeman's visually breathtaking documentary as he attempts to climb the same summit that proved fatal to his father 40 years ago. ­-- Holman

I'M NOT THERE 3 stars (R) Ambitious, smart but decidedly muddled, cerebral superhipster Todd Haynes' biopicture of enigmatic, chameleonlike singer Bob Dylan features six different actors playing Dylan, including a mind-blowing turn by Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere, Christian Bale and a young black kid (Marcus Carl Franklin). -- Feaster

INTO THE WILD 4 stars (R) Emile Hirsch stars as affluent Emory University grad Chris McCandless, who died at age 24 after dropping off the grid to live on his own in the Alaskan wilderness. A surprising amount of transcendence and hopefulness infuses the normally dour Sean Penn's fourth directorial effort about McCandless' physical and interior journey based on Jon Krakauer's nonfiction account. Marked by nods to '60s and '70s cinema, Penn's film also has relevance to our own times as growing eco- and global-awareness have made more and more people take a McCandless look at the bad path "civilization" is on. -- Feaster



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