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Film Clips 

Capsule reviews of recently reviewed movies

Opening Friday

BIGGER, STRONGER, FASTER* (PG-13) 3 stars See review.

A FOUR LETTER WORD (NR) Luke, a playboy working as a clerk in a Chelsea sex shop, falls for a macho hustler.

THE HAPPENING (R) See review.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK (PG-13) See review.

THE PROMOTION 3 stars (R) See review.

OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES 4 stars (NR) See review.

Duly Noted

CINEMAMA!!! This film series shows films every Thursday night and includes popcorn, pillows and drinks. June's theme is memory, and on Thurs., June 12, Wong Kar Wai's 2046 will be screened. Free. 8 p.m. New Street Gallery, 2800 Washington St., Avondale Estates. cinemama.org.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975) (R) The cult classic of cult classics, the musical horror spoof follows an all-American couple (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a drag queen/mad scientist from another galaxy. Midnight, Fridays at Plaza Theatre, and Saturdays at Peachtree Cinema & Games, Norcross.

Continuing

21 (PG-13) Based on the best-selling nonfiction book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions, by Ben Mezrich, 21 tells the story of ambitious students who become card experts. Starring Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne and Kate Bosworth.

88 MINUTES (R) Al Pacino stars as a forensic psychiatrist and college professor who has 88 minutes to solve his own murder before it happens.

BABY MAMA 2 stars (PG-13) "30 Rock" creator Tina Fey plays a variation of her small-screen alter ego as an unmarried successful executive who hires an uncouth surrogate (Amy Poehler) to have her child. Former "Saturday Night Live" co-anchors, Fey and Poehler make an appealing comedic duo, but the film never rises above the thudding level of a female "Odd Couple" dynamic of slob vs. snob, while writer/director Michael McCullers shows no understanding of real-world fertility issues. -- Curt Holman

BEFORE THE RAINS 2 stars (PG-13) For all of director Santosh Sivan's (Bride and Prejudice) formidable visual sensibilities, he plods his way predictably through the culture clash of a story centering around T.K. (Rahul Bose), an Indian villager who finds his loyalties challenged when he discovers the love affair between his boss, British spice harvester Henry Moores (Linus Roache), and the boss' married Indian maid Sanjani (Nandita Das). It's not melodrama; it's domestic silliness and Sivan misses the opportunity to tell the viewer more about the country he seems to love so much. -- David Lee Simmons

COLLEGE ROAD TRIP (G) Melanie (Raven Symone) is excited to spread her wings and travel to prospective universities on a girls-only road trip. Her plans are shattered when her overprotective father (Martin Lawrence) insists on accompanying her.

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN 2 stars (PG) Thirteen hundred years after they ruled Narnia, the Pevensie siblings (Georgia Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell) return to the magical realm to help rightful Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) overthrow a tyrant. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe featured a greater sense of wonder, better special effects and stronger supporting performances (Peter Dinklage proves the sole saving grace here). Caspian builds to some lavish sword-and-sorcery eye candy in its second half, but takes a long, joyless slog to get there. -- Holman

DR. SEUSS' HORTON HEARS A WHO! 4 stars (G) In this CGI adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic, a kindly elephant (voiced by Jim Carrey) protects microscopic Whoville from hostile nay-sayers led by Carol Burnett's Sour Kangaroo. Horton cleverly doubles the narrative by making the Whoville mayor (Steve Carell) another lonely believer, and generally retains the heart of the book and slapstick worthy of old Bugs Bunny cartoons. It's as if the filmmakers knew exactly how big a desecration was Carrey's How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and did exactly the opposite. -- Holman

DRILLBIT TAYLOR 2 stars (PG-13) Persecuted by a psycho bully (Alex Frost), three meek high schoolers (Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile and David Dorfman) hire supersoldier Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson) to be their bodyguard, unaware that he's actually a nonconfrontational homeless panhandler. Overlong and underfunny, Drillbit Taylor wastes the charms of Wilson and his young co-stars. Co-writer Seth Rogen also co-wrote Superbad, which has a similar dynamic between the three kids, but Drillbit is no Superbad. It's just plain bad. -- Holman

THE FALL 2 stars (R) The Fall takes place "Once upon a time" at a Los Angeles hospital around 1915, and follows the relationship of two injured patients. One-named director Tarsem presents so many exotic settings, bold compositions and hyper-realistic colors that the movie could provide a breathtaking series of glossy still photographs. The Fall confirms that the director has the eye of a genius but lacks the heart of a truly satisfying cinematic storyteller. -- Holman

THE FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON 3 stars (NR) The film follows several days in the life of Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), a single mom and temperamental theater artist; her son, Simon (Simon Iteanu); and their new nanny, Song (Fang Song), a Chinese film student. The lovely but languid film presents such commonplace activities, level emotions and long, leisurely takes that it's perfect for mellowing out after a stressful day or a sensory-overload film like Speed Racer. -- Holman

FORBIDDEN KINGDOM (PG-13) Obsessed with kung fu classics, American teenager Jason (Michael Angarano) discovers an ancient Chinese staff and finds himself transported back in time. Jason must return the staff to its rightful owner, the Monkey King. Also starring Jet Li, Yi Fei Liu and Jackie Chan.

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL 3 stars (R) When TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) dumps her longtime boyfriend (Jason Segel, who wrote the script), he goes to a Hawaiian resort -- only to find Sarah already there with her new lover, a fatuous rock star (scene-stealing Russell Brand). Of the seemingly countless comedies produced by Judd Apatow (and featuring supporting roles from the likes of Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill), this overlong but endearing one has enough raunchy laughs to belong in the company of such films as Knocked Up and Superbad. -- Holman

HAROLD & KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY 3 stars (R) Having gone to White Castle in 2004, cannabis aficionados Harold Lee and Kumar Patel (John Cho and Kal Penn) are mistaken for terrorists, shipped to Guantanamo Bay and take a zany trek across the American South. The film pushes its R rating in every conceivable area in the name of rude humor, but also aims to defuse modern-day tensions over profiling and prejudice by taking stereotypes and turning them upside down. Rob Corddry overplays his role as a dim, bigoted Homeland Security representative, but otherwise the film shows affection for its characters and its country, despite the bad habits of either. -- Holman

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL 3 stars (PG-13) The latest Indy flick embraces the franchise's nostalgia for itself, but the sentimental streak seems justifiable given the 19-year interim between chapters. It isn't exactly a fresh film adventure -- an automotive chase through the jungle feels like an undisguised retread of Raiders of the Lost Ark's truck chase. But Crystal Skull comes across not as lazy, but laid-back, as though the filmmakers have too much confidence to panic about trying to top the earlier films, or compete with their younger selves. -- Holman

IRON MAN 4 stars (PG-13) After being kidnapped in Afghanistan, industrialist Tony Stark (an exceptional Robert Downey Jr.) uses a flying metal suit to right the wrongs of his company's munitions wing. Marvel Studios builds a better superhero movie by taking such radical innovations as smart writing, rich acting and a recognizable, real-world setting. Enjoying spectacular special effects without relying on them, Iron Man feels more like an American James Bond film than a wannabe Batman or Spider-Man franchise. -- Holman

KUNG FU PANDA 4 stars (PG) In fairy-tale, talking-animal China, a fat panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) is improbably chosen to be the all-powerful "Dragon Warrior." The studio that gave us the Shrek movies downplays the pop references and body-function humor for a satisfying CGI action/comedy that features a splendid visual design and surprisingly exciting fight scenes, including a chopstick fight between Po and his diminutive teacher (voiced by Dustin Hoffman). -- Holman

MADE OF HONOR (PG-13) Patrick Dempsey and Michelle Monaghan star in this romantic comedy about an engaged woman who asks her best (male) friend to be her maid of honor. He agrees, but only to prevent the wedding and win her heart for himself.

MEET THE BROWNS (PG-13) Writer/director/actor Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Family Reunion) returns with his latest film, based on the stage production of the same name. Brenda (Angela Bassett), a single mother in need of support, moves her family to Georgia to attend the funeral of the father whom she never met and ends up becoming a part of his fun-loving family.

MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY (PG-13) Set in the late 1930s, this romantic film focuses on Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), a laid-off governess who decides to seize the day and apply for a position as a social secretary for an actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Also staring Lee Pace, Ciarán Hinds, Shirley Henderson and Tom Payne.

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.

PROM NIGHT (PG-13) A remake of a 1980s film starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Prom Night is the story of a teenage girl stalked by a deranged murderer.

REDBELT 3 stars (PG-13) A Los Angeles jujitsu teacher (Chiwetel Ejiofor) finds both his skill and integrity tested when he encounters such diverse, troubled characters as an attorney with a drug habit (Emily Mortimer) and a self-loathing movie star (Tim Allen, nicely cast against type). In the 10th film by Glengarry Glen Ross playwright David Mamet, Ejiofor bites into the filmmaker's terse trademark dialogue and delivers the kind of charismatic performance that should make him an A-list leading man. It's shamelessly corny and features enough plot for three Jackie Chan films, but offers more substance than the usual martial arts movie. -- Holman

THE RUINS (R) Four young tourists wander away from American-friendly Cancun and into a terrifying bloodbath.

SEX AND THE CITY 2 stars (R) Sarah Jessica Parker and the girls are back for the film version of the long-running popular HBO series, based on the book by Candace Bushnell.

SHUTTER (PG-13) After a tragic car accident, photographer Ben (Joshua Jackson) and his new wife, Jane (Rachael Taylor), find disturbing humanlike figures blurring Ben's photos. Jane thinks it could be the spirit of the girl murdered in the car crash, seeking vengeance. From the executive producers of The Grudge and The Ring.

SON OF RAMBOW 3 stars (PG-13) In the early 1980s, two outcast English schoolboys (Bill Milner and Will Poulter) band together to film a home movie "sequel" to First Blood. Writer/director Garth Jennings captures the low-key charms of Bill Forsythe comedies such as Local Hero while leaving room for some short, surreal fantasy scenes and the always-hilarious sight of a young English pipsqueak imitating Sylvester Stallone's Vietnam vet/killing machine. Some of the jokes overstay their welcome, but it's hard to resist Son of Rambow's generosity of spirit and its notion that creative fantasies can bring disparate people together. -- Holman

SPEED RACER 2 stars (PG) Competitive driver Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) and his jumping hot rod, "the powerful Mach 5," clash with corporate conspirators in this aggressively fake, CGI-heavy adaptation of the cult anime TV series from the late 1960s. Hirsch, John Goodman, Christina Ricci and Susan Sarandon struggle to put soul into the trippy but incoherent and lifeless proceedings. The Wachowski Brothers, creators of the Matrix trilogy, spent a fortune just to give audiences a splitting headache. -- Holman

THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES 3 stars (PG) The Grace kids (Sarah Bolger, and Freddie Highmore playing twins) stop worrying about their parents' separation when one of them discovers an ancestor's field guide to magical creatures. Too intense and violent for pretweens, The Spiderwick Chronicles' fast-paced adventure scenes evoke 1980s family adventures such as Gremlins and The Goonies without being quite so obnoxious, and retains the books' more serious themes of broken homes. -- Holman

STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE 4 stars (NR) Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, The Fog of War) examines the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, which proves more morally complex than the inflammatory photos lead you to believe. Morris doesn't intend to exonerate the U.S. servicemen and women convicted and discharged for their treatment of Iraqi prisoners, but their passionate interviews can provoke sympathy in one moment, disgust in the next. The film lays out a compelling narrative of what happens, but leaves the question "why" to others. -- Holman

THE STRANGERS (R) While spending a romantic evening in a remote suburban home, a couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) is targeted by masked strangers.

STREET KINGS 3 stars (R) The LAPD's Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) -- one of those hotshots who doesn't play by the rules, like Dirty Harry -- risks implicating himself when he unravels cover-ups and conspiracies following the death of his ex-partner. Thin and predictable, Street Kings' noisy shoot-outs still hold your interest and the script (co-written by L.A. Confidential novelist James Ellroy) features some credible little details about police work. But will people buy movie tickets for Street Kings' portrait of LAPD corruption when they can watch basically the same thing on "The Shield" for free? -- Holman

SUPERHERO MOVIE (PG-13) Writer Craig Mazin (Scary Movie) is back with another spoof on recent films. Superhero Movie pokes fun at flicks such as Spider-Man, X-Men and a multitude of others.

SURFWISE 3 stars (R) This documentary follows the story of Dr. Dorian Paskowitz, his wife and their nine children who were home-schooled and raised on the beach, where they surfed and lived off the fat of the land.

THEN SHE FOUND ME 3 stars (R) Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress Helen Hunt makes an impressive debut as a director in adapting Elinor Lipman's novel about a thirtysomething woman (Hunt) who wrestles with the complexities of motherhood. Bette Midler delivers a surprisingly nuanced performance as the birth mother who barges into her life, while Colin Firth and Matthew Broderick providing her flawed romantic options. -- Simmons

VANTAGE POINT 2 stars (PG-13) An assassination attempt on the U.S. president (William Hurt) unfolds from multiple points of view, including a veteran secret service agent (Dennis Quaid), an American tourist with a camcorder (Forest Whitaker) and a cable news producer (Sigourney Weaver). Vantage Point's multiple-eyewitness shtick takes too long to pay off and its minidramas play as painfully hackneyed, including Whitaker protecting a young bystander and the use of improbably identical "doubles." So why did so many Oscar winners and nominees sign on for such a clunky thriller? Maybe it's some kind of conspiracy. -- Holman

THE VISITOR 3 stars (PG-13) Writer/director Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent) continues his examination of people who have lost their rhythm in life with his story about a college professor ("Six Feet Under's" Richard Jenkins) who is snapped out of his funk when he becomes involved with two charming illegal immigrants (Haaz Sleiman, Danai Guirira). McCarthy's minor ambitions are almost to the point of ephemeral, but his character observations, and the space he provides for his small ensemble, result in a charming story about human connection. Jenkins' work in particular is so subtle he all but allows the foreigners (including Hiam Abbass as Sleiman's Syrian mother) to steal the show. -- Simmons

WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS 1 star (PG-13) Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher play mismatched New Yorkers who get drunk, hook up and win a fortune in Vegas, but a cranky judge sentences them to "six months hard marriage" before they can break up and split the winnings. It's hard to tell whether the contrived, nonsensical plotting is worse than the two-bit dialogue (Lake Bell and Rob Corddry as their respective best pals are particularly unfunny) in a comedy that plays like The War of the Roses for morons. You feel bad for Diaz, whose charms shine through despite lugging Kutcher's dead weight. Stay in Vegas -- please. -- Holman

YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN (PG-13) Zohan (Adam Sandler), an Israeli commando, fakes his own death to follow his dream of being a hairdresser.

YOUNG@HEART 3 stars (NR) Director Stephen Walker offers a funny and uplifting documentary about the Young@Heart chorus, a group of New England senior citizens with a penchant for puckish covers of punk rock and other incongruous hits. Faux music video segments (including "I Wanna Be Sedated") come too close to mocking the elderly charmers, and Walker's incessant, tell-don't-show narration nearly botches what should be a can't-miss subject for a nonfiction film. Walker nevertheless offers unforgettable portraits of feisty octogenarians who set an inspiring example of how to face the end of life with spirit and dignity. -- Holman

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