27 Dresses (PG-13) Katherine Heigl plays a bridesmaid but never a bride — 27 times. Oh, if she could only find that elusive creature called Mr. Right.
Cloverfield (PG-13) A mysterious monster attacks New York City. Buildings explode and the Statue of Liberty loses her head. Lots of running and screaming.
Mad Money (PG-13) An upper middle class housewife, played by Diane Keaton, is forced to get a job as a janitor when her husband’s company is downsized. Also stars Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, and Ted Danson.
There Will Be Blood (R) See review here.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (R) According to friends of mine, I’m supposed to think this sequel to the cheesy Alien Vs. Predator is better because it goes for the R rating. What this actually results in is cheese with more blood — and the obnoxious delusion that it’s better than its parent film. If anything, it’s worse. What was simply silly junk is now mean-spirited and ineptly made. —Ken Hanke
Atonement (R) Joe Wright’s adaptation of Atonement works — and doesn’t work. As a piece of film craft, it’s undeniably impressive, the kind of movie that gathers Oscar nominations by the score. At times, though, it presents itself as though auditioning for its own Cliff’s Notes: an ambitious, thoughtful, thoroughly literary story daring you not to recognize it as Art. —Scott Renshaw
The Bucket List (PG-13) In The Bucket List, we’re introduced to Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) who has just learned that he has cancer. He sits in his hospital bed, radiating that faintly weary dignity that has become almost oppressively connected to Freeman. Sharing his hospital room is Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson), billionaire CEO of the private health company that runs the hospital. Cole is an insensitive, philandering bon vivant who greets life with a grin and a raised eyebrow — in short, he’s playing Jack Nicholson. It’s sad when you become your own type. —Scott Renshaw
Charlie Wilson’s War (R) Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing, has never been a man of few words. While his densely verbose scripts are often smart and punchy, the fear was that he’d get so chatty that he wouldn’t be able to trim down the sprawling narrative to a manageable size. Instead, he improbably did exactly the opposite. Charlie Wilson’s War is beefy real-world politics stripped down to skin and bones. —Scott Renshaw
First Sunday (PG-13) It would be simple to call David E. Talbert — the first-time director of First Sunday — the poor man’s Tyler Perry. It’s really an unfair assessment. Talbert side steps many of Perry’s shortcomings, and at least attempts to make his work look like a movie instead of canned theatre. Unfortunately, he comes with his very own set of flaws, namely a complete inability to create a coherent film. Despite a pleasant cast and a workable premise involving a plan to rob a church that, it turns out, has already been robbed, the film is simply a mess of loose ends and meandering plotlines. Worse, for a comedy, it’s conspicuously laugh-free. —Justin Souther
In the Name of the King (PG-13) Uwe Boll may have money, but he still shows the same taste and talent that marked such movies as House of the Dead and Bloodrayne — zero. Armed with a name cast, he mercilessly pummels the viewer for 126 mind-numbing minutes of battle scenes and screwy ideas. There’s a certain amusement to the bad acting and the atrocious costumes — and such creations as a group of busty, leather-clad arboreal lesbians — but it goes on way too long to be worthwhile. —Ken Hanke
Juno (PG-13) It’s a familiar tale: Juno MacGuff, high schooler (Ellen Page), finds herself preggers after some sexual experimentation with her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (sweet-faced Michael Cera). Her dad and stepmom are stunned for only a brief moment, then immediately supportive. It’s not the end of the world. —MaryAnn Johanson
Kite Runner (PG-13) The setting is Kabul in 1978. The Taliban have yet to come, though the revolution is on the horizon. Young pals Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) and Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) spend their days going to the cinema and flying kites. We believe that Amir, the son of a rich man, and Hassan, the son of that rich man’s servant, could be suited to each other. Then comes the rape of a child. The violence perpetrated upon Hassan is in itself not a subject of great suspense. It becomes, instead, a hideous metaphor for Afghanistan. —MaryAnn Johanson
Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie (G) Four year olds will enjoy this aptly titled, shoddily animated movie about the adventures of a trio of legless, armless, but strangely ambulatory vegetables — a cucumber, a gourd, and an oversized grape (all of which are technically fruits). Parents in search of the utterly harmless may endorse it, but most viewers are to wish for someone to arrive with a Veg-O-Matic and put a stop to the whole thing. The faith-based makers of the film have soft-pedaled the religious aspects this time (see their previous Jonah movie), but in exchange all they can come up with is a vague — and incredibly dull — Wizard of Oz clone that tries to cash in on Pirates of the Caribbean. —Ken Hanke
One Missed Call (PG-13) Never mind the missed call, worry about the 87 minutes that sitting through this low-rent horror movie will rip out of your life. Here’s the pitch: You receive a voice mail from a day or two or three in the future, and said voice mail is — get ready — the sound of your own death. (Cue the ominous music.) The result is an increasing hallucinatory experience (mostly scary faces and a preponderence of centipedes) leading to your death at the exact time of that futuristic message. Go rent The Ring instead. —Ken Hanke
National Treasure: Book of Secrets (R) It’s impossible to feel very strongly one way or the other about this one. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It’s just sort of there. I never felt like I was wasting my time, but it’s doubtful I will remember much about it a year from now. Granted, the presence of Helen Mirren classes things up a bit, but it’s kind of a wash. Nicolas Cage is after a treasure that will clear his name. At bottom, it’s a mildly pleasant diversion that’s PG-rated. Which is fine. —Ken Hanke
P.S. I Love You (PG-13) Holly (Hilary Swank) and Gerry Kennedy (Gerard Butler) are a movie-style cute couple except that Gerry expires during the opening credits. This sort is known for dampening romance, but not in this case, since Gerry has cleverly mapped out the next year of his grieving widow’s life to help her get over him. It’s not very romantic and it’s not very funny, but the whole premise of “letters from beyond the grave” is a little creepy. So, for that matter, is Ms. Swank’s performance, since she has zero flair for this sort of thing. —Ken Hanke
Sweeney Todd (R) Tim Burton’s visually dazzling interpretation falls short of its potential largely thanks to one not-insignificant choice: He cast two leads who can barely carry a tune in a bag. When Depp opens his mouth to sing, he gives away his amateur status. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs. Lovett, the proprietor of a meat-pie shop housed below Sweeney’s old apartments and anyone who can sit through her trilling without wincing simply doesn’t grasp the insinuating splendor of Sondheim’s music. —Scott Renshaw
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (R) Walk Hard tears into the clichés of the biopic genre with hilarious, near-relentless ferocity. It takes us back to the 1940s Alabama childhood of young Dewey Cox, when the accidental death of his brother earns him the enmity of his father (Raymond J. Barry) and gives him the drive to make something of himself. But even as the grown-up Dewey (John C. Reilly) begins to find success as a singer and songwriter, he finds it hard to escape his traumatic past. From the first minute to the final payoff, Walk Hard mercilessly skewers the conventions of the biopic. —Scott Renshaw
Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (PG) A beguiling fantasy about a lonely Scottish boy in World War II who finds a mysterious egg that hatches to reveal a baby Loch Ness Monster. Surprisingly complex in terms of characterization and with considerable emotional resonance, it’s one of those rare movies that will appeal to kids without causing the adults in the audience to keep looking at their watches. Once the rapidly growing beast is transported to the loch, the film finds its footing and never loses it. —Ken Hanke