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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Saga says goodbye by reaching adulthood

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 13, 2011
If you’ve followed the cinematic adventures of Harry Potter over the last decade — whether in print or cinematic form — it’s hard to imagine how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 could fail. A series that began as an investment in J.K. Rowling’s remarkable hero-quest narrative evolved, over the course of seven films, into something else: an investment in the coming-of-age of three young actors.  

Zookeeper (Review)

Kevin James comedy vehicle is a laugh-less mess

0 Comments · Monday, July 11, 2011
Kevin James steps into his usual nice schlubby-guy persona and throws the same slow-pitch game we’ve seen on the big screen and his television series 'The King of Queens,' except this time out he’s got talking animals giving him advice on how to get in touch with his inner wild thing to land the right woman. Grade: F.  

Horrible Bosses (Review)

Shameless, sporadically funny comedy lacks empathy or feeling

0 Comments · Monday, July 11, 2011
Director Seth Gordon and a quartet of screenwriters seem uninterested in dosing this course comedy with even a trace of empathy or feeling. The trio of one-note, caricatured bosses fare worst of all. But that's not to say that 'Horrible Bosses' isn’t sporadically hilarious. Grade: C.  

Submarine (Review)

Coming-of-age tale features real tenderness

0 Comments · Friday, July 8, 2011
Newcomer Craig Roberts takes at least a pound and a half of inspiration from Bud Cort's romantically inclined misfit in 'Harold and Maude' for his defiantly humorous portrayal of the 15-year-old Oliver Tate.   

Beginners (Review)

Mike Mills’ latest is an affecting look at the possibility of personal rebirth

0 Comments · Wednesday, July 6, 2011
“You think you’re you,” a man tells a dog named Arthur, before breaking it to Arthur, a Jack Russell, that his personality has everything to do with being bred that way. They’re just starting out — the man has inherited the dog from his dead father — but true beginnings are well-nigh impossible. From the moment of birth, we become imprinted by outside forces, most crucially those of our parents, so even if we resolve to scour clean Mom’s and Dad’s identifying marks on us, that very act of rebellion is a reaction to, and therefore a confirmation of, their ineluctable influence.  

Larry Crowne (Review)

Tom Hanks' sunny romantic comedy is refreshingly cynic-free

0 Comments · Friday, July 1, 2011
Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts join forces for what feels like an adult male fairy tale populated by hip scooter girls instead of fairy godmothers and wicked witches, and its calculatedly uncynical nature appreciates the happiness without worrying about the ever after. Grade: B.  

Monte Carlo (Review)

Lightweight teen fantasy somehow transcends chiches

0 Comments · Friday, July 1, 2011
"Monte Carlo" has all of the hallmarks of a girly teen fantasy in the Disney-Nickelodeon mode, yet somehow co-writer/director Thomas Bezucha sneaks in a bit of old-school campy romp and enlivens the tired cliches. Grade: B-.  

Buck (Review)

The original 'horse whisperer' teaches us to appreciate animals and life

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 29, 2011
'Buck' is about overcoming fear and pain, breaking free of a cycle of suffering. It offers an example of a man who figured out how to start over and helps others to do the same. It's for those who have an "interest" in living an ethical life like Buck Brannaman. Grade A.  

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Review)

Michael Bay delivers another soul-deadening dud

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Butts will likely settle into seats for Michael Bay's hyper-realized 3-D action, which this time has been rendered in a slower, more drawn-out fashion for some semblance of coherence. The aim is a combination of 'Bad Boys 2' and the 'Matrix Reloaded' highway sequences, only jacked up on steroids with the resulting feelings of barely contained rage. Grade: F.  

Cars 2 (Review)

Pixar stumbles with oddly uninspired sequel

0 Comments · Friday, June 24, 2011
While this Pixar sequel is supposed to be a second outing for the speed-racing Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his tow buddy Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), launching them on the international racing circuit, in actuality it feels more like an animated 'Spy Kids' knockoff with the sidekick as the lead. Grade: D.  

Bad Teacher

Rauchy comedy wastes Cameron Diaz's ample charms

0 Comments · Friday, June 24, 2011
Instead of branching off into 'Bad Santa' territory, director Jake Kasdan's 'Bad Teacher' wastes the comedic and physical charms of Cameron Diaz in a raunchy tale of redemption. Grade: D-plus.  

The Topp Twins (Review)

Enganing documentary looks at unique New Zealand singing duo

0 Comments · Friday, June 24, 2011
This warm, engaging, entertaining and award-winning documentary concerns a New Zealand singing duo — Jools and Linda Topp — with a singularly unusual background. They are middle-aged twin sisters, lesbians and in their act mix rootsy, heartfelt Folk/Country material with the creation of comic characters. Grade: B-plus.  

The Tree of Life (Review)

The poetics of nature vs. grace dominate Terrence Malick’s latest opus

0 Comments · Wednesday, June 22, 2011
'The Tree of Life' opens with a bit of Scripture: "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation ... while the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" Where were we, indeed? That's the question that Terrence Malick's latest dares to pose and better still seeks to answer, but neither the question nor the answer matter much in the overall scheme of things. The effort is the point and purpose of the exercise, the meaning of life itself. The effort is the point and purpose of the exercise, the meaning of life itself. Grade: A.  

Green Lantern (Review)

CGI-driven adaptation is a lame mash-up that treads well-worn ground

0 Comments · Friday, June 17, 2011
Director Martin Campbell forgoes the urban realism of Christopher Nolan’s 'Batman' reboots and the romantic/heroic ideal of 'Superman' for the CG rendering of the otherworldly power of the Lantern and the Ring in his introduction to the origin story behind how a recklessly daring pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) became the first human member of the Green Lantern Corp. Grade: D-plus.  

The Art of Getting By (Review)

Formulaic coming-of-age romance doesn't quite get by

0 Comments · Friday, June 17, 2011
Writer/director Gavin Wiesen's formulaic romantic comedy attempts some familiar indie-pic variations on the comeing-of-age theme but ignores the most fundamental need of the genre: Somewhere, there better be somebody you actually want to root for. Grade: C.