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'List' is a raunchy romp with a sentimental hint

'List' is a raunchy romp with a sentimental hint

There are so many "lose my virginity over the summer" comedies, from "American Pie" to "Superbad," "Can't Hardly Wait" to "Girl Next Door."

September 25, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Despite name cast, 'Smurfs 2' is just a warmed-over retread

Get yourself into a Smurfy frame of mind, hum a few notes of "The Smurf Song" and try to remember your cartoon-watching primary school years. Cross your fingers that actors Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson will find something funny to do.

August 01, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Tense 'Hijacking' dryly tells a gripping story

"A Hijacking" is every bit as straightforward as its title. This Danish drama depicts the seizure of a cargo ship by Somali pirates and the monthslong negotiations for the release of ship and crew, and tells this story partly through the eyes of the crew that experiences it, and partly in th…

July 28, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Hijacking' is straightforward, conveys tone of helplessness

'Hijacking' is straightforward, conveys tone of helplessness

"A Hijacking" is every bit as straightforward as its title. This Danish drama depicts the seizure of a cargo ship by Somali pirates and the monthslong negotiations for the release of ship and crew, and tells this story partly through the eyes of the crew that experiences it, and partly in th…

July 25, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Girl Most Likely' a forgettable farce despite skills of the cast

'Girl Most Likely' a forgettable farce despite skills of the cast

"Girl Most Likely" is a comedy from Kristen Wiig's alternate universe career - the career she might have had without "Bridesmaids."

July 18, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Kids might enjoy 'Turbo,' but it's sluggish for adults

Kids might enjoy 'Turbo,' but it's sluggish for adults

In animation shorthand, "Turbo" is " 'Cars' with snails." It's light on the jokes, but cute, with animation so vivid it looks photo-real.

July 18, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Fill the Void' gently explores ways of Israel's ultra-Orthodox

'Fill the Void' gently explores ways of Israel's ultra-Orthodox

"Fill the Void" is an intimate, sensitive portrait of life, love, tragedy and tradition within the world of Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jews. Writer-director Rama Burshtein turns her camera on her own community and presents a tender look at people bound by faith, ritual and traditional gender roles.

July 11, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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Patented shtick in 'Rim' works

Patented shtick in 'Rim' works

Sheer madness. That's what this is, this movie that Guillermo del Toro just HAD to make, and for which he abandoned "The Hobbit."

July 11, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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'Despicable 2' makes much of its Minions

'Despicable 2' makes much of its Minions

"Despicable Me 2" is a gag-filled delight from start-to-finish. It's got more laughs in its first five minutes - from its larynx-bending voice actors, its loopy, goofy design and its milling, mewling Minions - than "Monsters University" managed over its entire length.

July 04, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Heat' tries to break the macho cop mold

'Heat' tries to break the macho cop mold

Give it up for Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. You'll never see them work harder at comedy than in "The Heat," a stumbling, aggressively loud and profane cop buddy picture where they struggle to wring "funny" out of a script that isn't.

June 27, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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Thriller goes for giddy, delivers goofy fun

Thriller goes for giddy, delivers goofy fun

If you see just one terrorists-take-over-the-White-House thriller this year, make it "White House Down." Even if you saw the dour and bloody "Olympus Has Fallen," which has a lot in common with "White House Down," you owe it to yourself to check out Roland "2012" Emmerich's preachy, goofy, o…

June 27, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Fast-paced 'WWZ' never eases back

Fast-paced 'WWZ' never eases back

"World War Z" promised to be some sort of ultimate zombie movie experience, and it's hard to call it that. But the first 25 minutes or so of this "Contagion"-meets-"28 Days Later" thriller will leave you breathless.

June 20, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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Superman competent, but no fun

Superman competent, but no fun

This Superman settles scores. And takes his shirt off.

June 13, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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The feel-good comedy of summer

The feel-good comedy of summer

There's an unadulterated joy in the re-teaming of those fast-talking "Wedding Crashers" Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, a wholesome novelty in their playing laid-off salesmen forced to do what millions of Americans have had to do in the past six years - reinvent themselves.

June 06, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Gimmicky horror film 'Purge' is satire that doesn't work

James DeMonaco's "The Purge" is a bloody-minded, heavy-handed satire of life within these violent United States. It's a horror film with the occasional visceral thrill - the fear of being hunted, the excitement of righteous violence against nameless intruders. But mostly, it's just a clumsy …

June 06, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Now You See Me' makes for less than meets eye

'Now You See Me' makes for less than meets eye

The razzle dazzles, but the smoke never quite hides the mirrors in "Now You See Me," a superslick new magicians' heist picture that demonstrates, once again, how tough it is to make "magic" work as a movie subject.

May 30, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Action, groans come fast, furious

Action, groans come fast, furious

Bad movies are rarely as much fun as these "Fast and the Furious" pictures. And make no mistake about it - they're bad.

May 23, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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Despite oh-wow animation, 'Epic' doesn't match its title

Despite oh-wow animation, 'Epic' doesn't match its title

Derivative as all get out and plainly concocted by a committee, "Epic" is a children's animated film that is more entertaining and emotional than it has any right to be.

May 23, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

'Erased' never sketches in decent villain for Eckhart

Just once, it'd be nice if the couple fleeing from a trigger-happy hit man through, say, a crowded hospital, would yell out - "Run for your lives!" And if the hospital's in Belgium, say, it'd be nice for them to yell it in French.

May 16, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
The student, teacher become chillingly obsessed with family

The student, teacher become chillingly obsessed with family

The teacher is a veteran of the French school system, not burnt out but resigned to the mediocrity of each new crop of high school sophomores. That first assignment - "Write about what you did last weekend" - confirms what he tells his gallery manager wife: "This is the worst class I've had …

May 09, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
DiCaprio shines as director's vision, classic 'Gatsby' clash

DiCaprio shines as director's vision, classic 'Gatsby' clash

Jazzy, fizzy and often quite fun, Baz Luhrmann's "Pretty Good Gatsby" takes F. Scott Fizgerald's Great American Novel out for a sometimes dazzling, always irreverent, spin.

May 09, 2013 12:00 am Related Loading…
Tech is tool of alienation in well-acted 'Disconnect'

Tech is tool of alienation in well-acted 'Disconnect'

We unplug our phone from the charger, pop in our ear buds and go out to seize the day. We text compulsively, post on Facebook obsessively, and when it comes time to shop, date or hook-up, we log on, boot up and tune out.

May 02, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Actine fine in "The Company You Keep"; ages don't add up

Actine fine in "The Company You Keep"; ages don't add up

Robert Redford delivers one last lecture on '60s idealism and passes another baton to Shia LaBeouf in "The Company You Keep," an engrossing thriller about the last anti-Vietnam War radicals still underground.

April 25, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Southern melodrama 'Mud' revels in authentic milieu

Southern melodrama 'Mud' revels in authentic milieu

The cinema's leading purveyor of Southern Gothic, Jeff Nichols, hands Matthew McConaughey his latest tour de force turn in "Mud," a down and dirty if entirely-too-long mythic melodrama in the "Tobacco Road" tradition.

April 25, 2013 12:00 am Related Loading…

'Pain, Gain': When gym rats go bad

Once you've destroyed Pearl Harbor and let robots rampage across the Earth a few times, your whole idea of a buddy picture has got to be warped. Elephantiasis sets in, even on a caper comedy with daft characters and silly situations.

April 25, 2013 12:00 am Related Loading…
'Gatekeepers' forces Shin Bet chiefs to face Israel's divisions

'Gatekeepers' forces Shin Bet chiefs to face Israel's divisions

The Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers" is built around interviews with the last six chiefs of the Israeli intelligence service, Shin Bet. And with all due respect to a "divided America," these guys will tell you what a really divided country looks like.

March 28, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Film aims for jugular of warming deniers

Seven years after "An Inconvenient Truth," what has changed in the world's efforts to come to grips with global warming? The scientific consensus has firmed up, even further. Public opinion has, at last, fallen in line with the science, assisted by any number of in-your-face extreme weather …

March 28, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Surprising 'Croods' has wit, warmth, first-rate animation

Surprising 'Croods' has wit, warmth, first-rate animation

Skip past the lame title and weary Stone Age premise. "The Croods" is the first pleasant surprise of spring, a gorgeous kids' cartoon with heart and wit, if not exactly a firm grasp of paleontology.

March 21, 2013 12:00 am Related Loading…
'Olympus Has Fallen' never quite gets up; not much more than a shoot-'em-up

'Olympus Has Fallen' never quite gets up; not much more than a shoot-'em-up

For those who thought the last Bruce Willis movie was a little light on the casualty list, "Olympus Has Fallen" arrives toting the biggest body count since "Die Hard II."

March 21, 2013 12:00 am Related Loading…
Divided theme hurts 'Admission'

Divided theme hurts 'Admission'

Tina Fey makes funny TV shows, funny movies and funny books.

March 21, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Weak love story undercuts historical reach of 'Emperor'

Weak love story undercuts historical reach of 'Emperor'

Hirohito sat on the Chrysanthemum Throne through the Japanese invasion of China, the attack on Pearl Harbor and all through World War II.

March 07, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Raimi's 'Oz' gets story, effects right, but the witches ...

In the movies' version of March Madness, Sam Raimi turns out to be a much better Tim Burton than Bryan Singer. Unlike "Giant Slayer" Singer, Sam's got a sense of humor. Taking on a prequel to the fairytale that frightened generations, Sam does scary. And does it well.

March 07, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Jack' is a genial but uninspired tale

'Jack' is a genial but uninspired tale

One thing this current run of blockbuster fairytales inspired by Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" has taught us is how very hard it is to be Tim Burton.

February 28, 2013 12:00 am Related Loading…
'Place at Table' explores hunger, food politics

'Place at Table' explores hunger, food politics

America's twin ills, the swollen ranks of hungry people in the country and the national "obesity epidemic" are explained, in blunt and poignant terms, in "A Place at the Table," a new documentary about "food politics" and the forces that let hunger in America make a comeback.

February 28, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

'Ultima' engaging but shorts key character

"Bless Me, Ultima," the film based on Rudolfo Anaya's landmark Chicano novel, is a meticulously observed time capsule, a vivid re-creation of a self-contained world of Mexican-Americans in 1944 New Mexico.

February 21, 2013 12:00 amLoading…

Dwayne Johnson gets in over his head, and survives being a 'Snitch'

It takes forever to get going, and lollygags along even after that.

February 21, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Haven' a safe, treacly romance based on Sparks' 'beach book'

'Haven' a safe, treacly romance based on Sparks' 'beach book'

The movies based on the novels of Nicholas Sparks always emphasize the simple pleasures. A quiet locale, a leisurely stroll down the beach, a romance that doesn't begin in a bar and end in bed that same night.

February 14, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Beautiful Creatures' rejects vampires, zombies for witches

'Beautiful Creatures' rejects vampires, zombies for witches

Young love, so sorely tested by vampirism and zombification in "Twilight" and "Warm Bodies," finds the road to romance sunnier in "Beautiful Creatures," in which two teens pair up despite the fact that one of them is a witch in training.

February 14, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
Best to pass on 'Identity Thief'

Best to pass on 'Identity Thief'

"Oooh, honey, less is more," the flamboyant hair stylist whispers, out of earshot, at Diana (Melissa McCarthy) as she bombs her head with hairspray and trowels on the eye shadow.

February 07, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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'Warm Bodies' is deathly slow, but at least it's in on the joke

'Warm Bodies' is deathly slow, but at least it's in on the joke

Imagine a "Twilight" where the panting, flirting teens were in on the joke, where the gulf between them was more about communication skills than supernatural schisms.

January 31, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Beware of Mr. Baker' delivers a solid beat (and a beating)

'Beware of Mr. Baker' delivers a solid beat (and a beating)

"He had time" is the finest compliment the drummer Ginger Baker can give.

January 24, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Mama' is a moving big-screen ghost story

'Mama' is a moving big-screen ghost story

"Mama" breaks a lot of horror movie rules, right off the proverbial bat.

January 17, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Gangster Squad' makes for decent gangland Western

'Gangster Squad' makes for decent gangland Western

The Old West died hard in the City of Angels. And in the years after World War II, battle-hardened veterans came home to a town "under enemy occupation," when the only way to fight off the Mob was with a six gun, your two fists and the right hat.

January 10, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'The Impossible' is a vivid, gripping, stellar film

'The Impossible' is a vivid, gripping, stellar film

It begins with a disaster, a huge one witnessed not from a distance, not via the safety of a TV news report, but up close and personal.

January 06, 2013 12:00 amLoading…
'Promised Land' entertains but misses the mark

'Promised Land' entertains but misses the mark

"Promised Land" is an engaging and entertaining - if preachy - look at Big Energy and fracking - the land-and-water-wrecking practice of drilling and pumping water and chemicals into the ground to extract natural gas from shale.

January 03, 2013 12:00 am Photos

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A sappy, schmaltzy and safe seasonal bet

A sappy, schmaltzy and safe seasonal bet

The family-friendliest movie comedy this holiday season is also the sappiest and schmaltziest.

December 27, 2012 12:00 amLoading…

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