At The Movies
Richard Gere plays the writer Clifford Irving, who nearly pulled off one of the most audacious media scams in history when his bogus autobiography of reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes was published in 1972. (R)
Blades of Glory
Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star as rival figure skaters, banned and disgraced from competition, who, in an attempt to make their return years later, team up to perform as the first male-male pair in the sport. Review on Page 27. (PG-13)
A former high school hockey star outwits a group of criminals who plan to rob the small-town bank where he works as a janitor. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels and Isla Fisher star. Review on Page 29.(R)
Meet the Robinsons 1/2
In this Disney animated movie, a boy genius creates a machine to recover the past and embarks on an amazing adventure with his future family. Review on Page 17. (G)
Peaceful Warrior 1/2
When an arrogant and talented college gymnast looking for a shot at Olympic qualifiers turns to a mysterious old man and his secret abilities to help him out, the young man finds himself instead on a spiritual journey of discovery. Review on Page 18. (PG-13)
Are We Done Yet?
Ice Cube and Nia Long return in the sequel to the popular "Are We There Yet?" Now married to Suzanne, Nick has bought a quiet suburban house to provide more space for his new wife and two kids. But when his new home quickly becomes a costly fixer-upper and he finds himself at the mercy of an eccentric contractor (John C. McGinley), Nick's suburban dream becomes a riotous nightmare. (PG)
Rex, Hollywood's top-grossing canine, gets lost during a commercial shoot, only to end up as the mascot of a rundown inner-city fire station. (PG)
Opens April 5
Hilary Swank stars as a debunker of so-called religious phenomena who tries to prove that a small boy is not the supernatural force behind the devastation of a small town beset by Biblical plagues. (R)
Ioan Gruffudd portrays William Wilberforce, who led efforts as a member of Parliament in 18th-century England to end slavery and the slave trade in the British empire. It's a heartfelt if occasionally stodgy tribute to the man.
Arthur and the Invisibles
In order to save his grandma's home, a boy (Freddie Highmore) sets off to find his grandpa's treasure hidden somewhere on the "other side" in the land of the Miniroys, a race of tiny creatures that live in perfect harmony with their environment. The movie bing-bing-bings all over the place like a pinball machine, re-purposing fantasy novels, video games and Arthurian legends. The digital animation is sleek and artful, without quite making it over the hump to art.
Happy Feet 1/2
Winner of the best animated film Oscar. A young penguin named Mumble searches for his mate. Unfortunately, he's incapable of belting out his own unique song to attract one ... but boy, can he tap dance! The movie follows Mumble on a journey of discovery of himself and the world, which is both harrowing and thrilling. The visuals can be both intimate and breathtakingly grand, and they support a poignant story that has real meaning.
The Last Mimzy
Two siblings exhibit remarkably high intelligence and abilities when they discover a mysterious box filled with sophisticated toys from the future. The heart and the core of the movie is rooted in 1940s science fiction values -- like being smart is good for you -- so this makes for a good and thoughtful family-oriented outing.
Night at the Museum 1/2
Ben Stiller stars as a night watchman dealing with dinosaur skeletons, statues and wax figures that come to life at a museum. Stretched to greater length than its thin idea merits, the movie is mainly a collection of slapstick vignettes and, despite inventive visual effects, comes off as unimaginative.
Hollywood's latest inspirational sports flick -- based on a true story of how a group of troubled teens turned into Philadelphia's first African American swim team in 1973 -- has enough buoyancy to remain afloat. Without the vigor of Terrence Howard and the charm of Bernie Mac, the movie would likely sink in its own sea of clichés.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back on the big screen, this time in CGI animation. The team reunites when tech-industrialist Max Winters amasses an army of ancient monsters to apparently take over the world. Even though the plot's subtext of needing family is hammered throughout, the movie is entertaining to look at and listen to, albeit on the level of a well-crafted video game.
Because I Said So
Diane Keaton's acting talents are wasted in this shrill romantic comedy about an overbearing mother who secretly places an Internet personal ad for her daughter (Mandy Moore). The movie isn't awful, just pandering and generic.
Based on the real-life story of Robert Hanssen, a young FBI analyst (Ryan Phillippe) who must find proof that his boss (Chris Cooper) has been selling secrets to the Soviet Union. The movie is less a biopic than a psychological thriller framed around the volatile relationship between the cantankerous agent and his young counterpart. The screenplay, unfortunately, is filled with dead-end tangents and unanswered questions.
The American debut of Hong Kong horror directors the Pang brothers is a stylish but almost completely generic thriller. A family moves into an old rundown farm, only to encounter ominous signs that something is very wrong with their new home, especially after they hire a farm hand (a ridiculous performance by John Corbett).
Music and Lyrics
Hugh Grant plays a washed-up '80s pop singer who collaborates with a lyricist (Drew Barrymore) when he gets a chance at a comeback. While it has its moments -- and the lead actors try their best with what they're given -- this is a formulaic romantic comedy.
After seeing his strong and nuanced acting in "Dreamgirls," Eddie Murphy regresses to "Nutty Professor" latex, slathering himself in makeup to play a nebbish, his morbidly obese bride and a cartoonish Chinese man. The mutant romantic comedy is filled with fat-bashing and ethnic stereotypes. Every character, heroes and antagonists alike, is either overplayed or underwritten.
The Painted Veil
Based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel set in the 1920s, a young English couple -- a conservative doctor (Edward Norton) and a restless society girl (Naomi Watts) -- marry hastily and relocate to Hong Kong. There they betray each other easily, and find an unexpected chance at redemption and happiness while on a journey into the heart of ancient China. Excellent performances all around in this beautifully designed film entirely shot in China.
Starring Sandra Bullock as a woman whose husband is killed in a car wreck one day but turns up alive and well the next, this movie plays out too tranquilly in the early going to build much suspense. It teases viewers with the promise of great twists or revelations, making the unsatisfying conclusion and epilogue all the more annoying. It's a shame, because Bullock breathes far more soul into the role than her superficially written character merits.
The Pursuit of Happyness 1/2
Will Smith stars in the true story of a homeless single father who works himself up to become a successful stock broker. Smith plays a real-life hero, as his character's persistence and faith pays off in making a better life for himself and his boy, played by Smith's young son Jaden. Italian director Gabriele Muccino does fine work here as well, knowing the difference between sentimentality and sentiment.
Stomp the Yard
A troubled street dancer from Los Angeles attends a historical black university in Atlanta where he joins a struggling fraternity and learns the true meaning of brotherhood when he tries to help the school's step team win the national championship. The rhythmic step dancing is infectious in this otherwise formulaic underdog flick.
Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy play a group of middle-aged friends who decide to rev up their routine suburban lives with a freewheeling motorcycle trip. Too bad that the guys are not all that wild and, more important, not all that funny, as the humor and hi-jinks in this road romp are tame and tranquil.
Director Zack Snyder painstakingly re-creates the panels from Frank Miller's graphic novel about the ancient Battle of Thermopylae, in which 300 Spartans fought off a much larger Persian army. But the movie is so over-the-top it's laughable -- so self-serious, it's hard to take seriously. The CGI effects and inventive violence are extremely cool at first, but the gimmicks wear off quickly and ultimately become overbearing, including the pounding music score and profuse use of voice-over narrative.
Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a South African mercenary who joins a native fisherman (fellow nominee Djimon Housou) on a quest to recover a rare pink diamond amidst the chaos of 1990s Sierra Leone. Edward Zwick's movie tries to mix raw violence with displays of social conscience. It's hard-core moviemaking with a tortured soul.
Children of Men 1/2
Director Alfonso Cuarón helped adapt this tale set in the near future when a flu pandemic results in complete infertility in women. A former activist is recruited by an old flame -- now the leader of a terrorist group -- into smuggling a young pregnant woman out of Britain. The thriller, a thoughtful study of humankind's resilience, is carried by the performances of Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine and Clare-Hope Ashitey.
Dead Silence 1/2
The killer ventriloquist dummy is back in this horror film that reunites the creators of "Saw." While a more credible, less grisly act of filmmaking than its grimy predecessor, it's also a less compelling exercise. The revenge story is told through rushed montages that cheapen the sensation of discovery and leave the craving for shock unfulfilled.
The Hills Have Eyes 2
A unit of National Guard soldiers is attacked by cannibalistic mutants during a training mission in the New Mexico desert. Much of the bloody carnage is filmed in caverns so dark that you can't tell a severed foot from a severed head, and because the good guys are incredibly dumb, they're almost impossible to root for.
The hit South Korean film about a horrifying behemoth of a monster that emerges from the polluted waters of the Han River to wreak havoc on the populace of Seoul. Writer-director Bong Joon-Ho has crafted a film that just kicks butt from start to finish, even though its anti-American sentiment (the pollution is caused by a thoughtless U.S. scientist) feels a bit half-baked.
I Think I Love My Wife
Chris Rock directs, co-writes and stars in this movie about a bored married businessman who fantasizes about other women until an ex-mistress of friend actually tries to seduce him. While Rock definitely has something to say about marriage, race and the black upper-middle class, he's still too stiff and clunky as a filmmaker to successfully make his point.
The Last King of Scotland
A Scottish doctor on a medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world's most barbaric figures, Ugandan President Idi Amin, who picks the doctor as his personal physician and closest confidante. Forest Whitaker portrays the mad dictator in a best actor Oscar-winning performance, an inspired study in commotion.
The Lives of Others
Winner of the best foreign film Oscar, the German film takes place five years before the fall of the East German government. A surveillance agent, in hopes of boosting his career, finds his own life changing when he takes on a job collecting evidence against a playwright and his actress girlfriend. This is a miracle of a film that manages to be both subtle and intense at the same time. It's a political thriller but also a portrait of unexpected humanity -- a marvel of controlled storytelling and mood, with brilliant performances.
Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning film (for best art direction, cinematography and makeup) is set against the postwar repression of Franco's Spain. It's a fairy tale that centers on a lonely and dreamy child, who creates a world filled with fantastical creatures and secret destinies. Del Toro has crafted a terrifying and visually wondrous masterpiece, blending fantasy and gloomy drama into one of the most magical films in recent memory.
Reign Over Me 1/2
Two former college teammates rekindle their friendship after one of them loses his family in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Adam Sandler has his meatiest -- and most maudlin -- screen role to date, and Don Cheadle brings his typical intelligence and nuance to what might have been a dry, straight-man role. He can elevate anyone's game, and here he and Sandler share a buoyant chemistry.
Reno 911!: Miami
Based on the popular Comedy Central show, Reno's finest are called in when a terrorist attack disrupts a national police convention they're attending. The end result is a formulaic, unfunny farce.
Mark Wahlberg stars as a former Marine Corps sniper who is lured out of retirement only to be double-crossed in a government conspiracy. Antoine Fuqua's silly action flick revels in masculine clichés and over-the-top braggadocio. It's like two hours of watching a man hit himself in the face while yelling how tough he is.
Smokin' Aces 1/2
A rogues' gallery of characters collide with the FBI when a Vegas mob boss takes out a hefty contract on a magician's head. The movie's utterly absurd and weirdly boring. It's all attitude and firepower.
Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the true story of a serial killer who terrorized San Francisco and taunted police during the 1960s and '70s. Director David Fincher has been known for his visual flair, but he tones things down here and also drags out the movie to close to three hours. "Zodiac" certainly has its moments but it's no masterpiece.
Art House | Revival
THE DORIS DUKE THEATRE, HONOLULU ACADEMY OF ARTS
900 S. Beretania St.; $7 general; $6 seniors, students and military; $5 Academy members (532-8768):
Words of My Perfect Teacher: An (Ir)reverent Portrait of Dzongsar Khyentse Norbu Rinpoche
At 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday; and 1 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through April 5. See review on Page 28.
3566 Harding Ave.; $5, $4 members; reservations recommended due to limited seating (735-8771):
Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Friday and Monday.
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
The Most Beautiful Day of My Life
At 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday.
At 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 p.m. April 5.