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MURDER BY NUMBERS (R) This fitfully entertaining thriller casts Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling as two privileged high school seniors who elect to pull off the perfect murder. As long as the film places them front and center, it avoids the standard "cop flick" trappings. Much of the running time is frittered away on scenes involving the troubled detective on the case, shakily played by top-billed star (and executive producer) Sandra Bullock.--MB
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VAN WILDER (R) Ryan Reynolds plays the title character, a party-hearty seventh-year college student in this chaotic campus comedy. National Lampoon attempts to pass the cinematic torch by casting Tim Matheson of Animal House as Van Wilder's father.
THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN (PG) An teenaged Idaho farm boy (Christopher Gorham) becomes a Mormon missionary in the South Seas in this lush film based on a true story.
PANIC ROOM (R) Pop stylist and zeitgeist-surfer David Fincher goes gimpy in his latest dull, unimaginative pseudo-thriller about a recent divorcee (Jodie Foster) and her teenage daughter (Kristen Stewart) who wage a psychological battle with a trio of criminals (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam) who have invaded their Manhattan mansion looking for a $3 million treasure. --Felicia Feaster
THE ROOKIE (G) This overly familiar formula film won't move anyone who's already seen their share of follow-your-dream flicks. What little juice this gets comes courtesy of its actors, especially Dennis Quaid as a high school baseball coach who takes one last shot at his dream of pitching in the major leagues. The leisurely direction, 129-minute running time and clichéd script provide little sense of joy.--MB
THE SCORPION KING (PG-13) In the ripe-cheese tradition of those grade-Z sword-and-sorcery epics that play on late-night cable, we now get this prequel to The Mummy Returns which casts The Rock as a monolith of a leading man whose undeniable screen presence constantly wages war against his wooden line delivery. Thanks to its awareness of its own limitations, this is watchable enough, but you'll be satisfied after an hour.--MB
SPIDER-MAN (PG-13) The long-awaited adaptation of the Marvel comic book works because director Sam Raimi and scripter David Koepp turn their movie into a successful tightrope act between soap opera and spectacle, retaining the personal elements that made the comic book so popular while also providing special effects that thankfully never overwhelm the story. As Peter Parker, the boy who becomes a superhero, Tobey Maguire is wonderfully appealing.--MB
THE SWEETEST THING (R) Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair clearly are all gifted comediennes, and all three deserve to have their efforts showcased in a movie much better than this one. Ostensibly about a romantic comedy, the film lathers on a series of gross-out gags so ineptly staged, they produce apathy rather than laughs or even disgust.--MB
THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE (PG-13) Director Clare Peploe (a.k.a. Mrs. Bernardo Bertolucci) fashions a delightful tale of mistaken identities and mismatched couplings in the Age of Reason. Mira Sorvino's princess spends a lot of the film in male drag, and while she might not give Hilary Swank much of a run for her money, she invests her manly alter ego with a swagger and tenor that puts Gwyneth Paltrow to shame.--Bert Osborne
WORLD TRAVELER (R) Billy Crudup plays a successful architect who suddenly becomes disillusioned with his middle-class success and goes out on the road. Co-starring Julianne Moore and David Keith.
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN (NR) A heartbroken woman takes off on a road trip with two randy teenage boys and the trio talk, laugh, bicker and have sex. How director Alfonso Cuaron turns this seemingly trite scenario into a metaphysical meditation on life, fate, death, the sublime and torturous aspects of sex, and the class divisions of modern Mexico is a thing of beauty.--FF