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THE BOYS ARE BACK (PG-13) Joe Warr (Clive Owen), a wise-cracking sportswriter, finds himself a single parent of two after his wife's tragic death. The three boys must find their way together and learn the graces of everyday life and love.
BRIGHT STAR 4 stars (PG) The Piano director Jane Campion offers a deeply felt retelling of the doomed love affair between romantic poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and neighbor/clothing designer Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Though set around the same time as all those Jane Austen movies, Bright Star presents far more of the dirt, pungency and claustrophobia of the era than the usual period piece. Avoiding melodrama, Bright Star captures the aching futility of love and its redemption — at least in the textbooks — through Keats' immortal verse. – Holman
THE BURNING PLAIN (R) Oscar-nominated screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga makes his directorial debut with this drama starring Charlize Theron as a restaurant manager whose life becomes connected to other women in America and Mexico, including Kim Basinger.
CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY 3 stars (PG-13) In a semi-sequel to his 1989 documentary Roger & Me, Michael Moore offers a critique of the excesses of the capitalist system, focusing most of his ire on the huge banks and mortgage companies at the center of the 2008 economic meltdown. Moore doesn't have to look far to uncover horrifying tales of corporate greed and malfeasance, and offers some optimistic anecdotes about the benefits of worker-owned companies. His patented showboating stunts prove as empty and annoying as ever, however, and he waffles the issue as to how to replace the free enterprise system. — Holman
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 3 stars (PG) Young crackpot inventor Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) accidentally revitalizes his struggling hometown with a gizmo that causes "food weather" to fall from the sky. When greed and pride cause ginormous menu items to wreak havoc, it's like a Roland Emmerich disaster film combined with an all-you-can eat buffet. The sight gags, splendid animation and effective use of 3-D make up for the thin characterizations, and the metaphors for excess consumption make the film comparable to a Happy Meal version of Super Size Me. — Holman
COUPLES RETREAT 2 stars (PG-13) Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell play spouses contemplating divorce who invite six friends to a resort that requires conspicuously more "couples skill-building" than Jet-Skiing. Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau star and co-wrote the script (with Dana Fox), presumably so they could take a paid vacation in Bora Bora. At any rate, a laziness infuses the performances (with Malin Akerman and Kristin Davis thanklessly playing their spouses) and script, which offers shallow insights about relationships. Droll performances from Faizon Love and Bateman and scene-stealing work from Jean Reno and Peter Serafinowicz as touchy-feely islanders keep Couples Retreat from being a lost vacation.
EXTRACT (R) "Arrested Development's" Jason Bateman plays Joel, owner of a beverage company called Reynold's Extract, who juggles a corporate buyout, a personal injury lawsuit, a sexually disinterested wife (Kristen Wiig), a manipulative hottie (Mila Kunis) and the occasional horse tranquilizer. Mike Judge, who previously helmed the cult hits Office Space and Idiocracy, tends to be kind of half-assed with plot and structure, but deserves employee of the month for his hilarious, quotable dialogue and work with actors including Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons and David Koechner, and Gene Simmons in a hilarious cameo as a personal injury lawyer with unbelievable helmet-hair. — Holman
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER 2 stars (PG-13) Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hapless would-be architect who falls for free-spirited Summer (Zooey Deschanel), despite her aversion to emotionally committed relationships. Quirky to a fault but nicely acted by Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel, the film offers a fresh substitute for cookie-cutter rom-coms, but Woody Allen brought more insight to scrambled chronology and surreal set-ups in Annie Hall. Summer would be on stronger ground if it offered a strong female perspective to balance Gordon-Levitt's character. — Holman
FAME (PG) The High School Musical franchise no doubt inspired this PG-rated "reinvention" of the R-rated Alan Parker film from 1980 about the students and teachers at the New York School of Performing Arts.
THE FINAL DESTINATION (R) The fourth and allegedly "final" film in the Final Destination series follows a group of young people who avoid a disaster at a race track, only to fall prey to more outlandish demises after the fact. Presented in 3-D at participating theaters, so you can feel like stuff is flying right at your head.