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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & American Dreamz -- If you wanted to satirize George W. Bush, American Idol and suicide bombers, you might think you'd need to write three separate scripts. American Dreamz, though, explodes that notion. When a dummie president (Dennis Quaid) wants to be a guest judge on a pop idol show called American Dreamz, the Arab contestant (originally brought on for diversity and flava) is coerced into blowing up the POTUS on live TV. Rated PG-13





The Benchwarmers -- Rob Schneider and David Spade play nerds while Jared Hess revisits his Napoleon Dynamite character (a-frickin-gain). The three team up to teach geeks how to stand up to jocks on and, presumably, off the baseball diamond. Douche-baggery that undermines the sanctity of our national game ensues. Rated PG-13





Failure to Launch -- Tripp (Matthew McConaughey) is handsome, wealthy and too lazy to move out of his parents' house. So his folks hire a "consultant" (Sarah Jessica Parker) to lure him away with a promise of romance. There are plot holes galore, along with by-the-numbers storytelling. But the film manages to remain an enjoyable, if fluffy, romp. (ES) Rated PG-13





Forces of Nature -- Showcasing the awesome spectacle of earthquakes, volcanoes, and severe storms as we follow scientists on their quests to understand how these natural disasters are triggered. Narrated by Kevin Bacon! Unrated





Friends With Money -- Four longtime pals -- played by Catherine Keener, Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand (who all live very comfortable lives) and Jennifer Aniston (who ekes by as a house cleaner) -- regularly meet to chat and complain. The well-off ones have husbands, while the broke one has as much trouble with men as with money. This is a look at strengths and weaknesses in relationships, and the powerful bond of friendship. Serious matters, often treated with nicely placed humor. (ES) Rated R





Greece: Secrets of the Past -- Continuing their long tradition of making learning fun, the folks at IMAX bring us Greece, wherein you get to "see how the island of Santorini was formed and how the island's volcanic eruption, one of the biggest explosions in Earth's history, occurred. Follow a team of archeologists piecing together the puzzles of ancient history and learn how the field of archeology has progressed. Travel to Athens and see how computer graphic imaging can restore the Parthenon to its original glory. Trace some of our modern society's customs -- democracy, medicine, athletics and theatre back to their roots in the Golden Age of Greece." Unrated





Ice Age: The Meltdown -- The mammoth, the saber-tooth and the sloth gain sidekicks and a kind of pro-unconventional family, anti-global warming message this time around, but it doesn't work. Aside from being crude, this sequel lacks a genuine antagonist or any real character development. As the movie's marketing campaign tacitly admits, the best part about Meltdown is that silly squirrel Scrat. Rated PG





Inside Man -- Spike Lee regains much of the ground he lost over his last few films. This is a terrific heist movie, with plenty of angles we haven't seen before. Clive Owen has planned the perfect bank job (or something), Denzel Washington is the cool and calm detective trying to stop things before they go too far, and Jodie Foster is the mysterious and powerful woman who can miraculously make the impossible happen ... with discretion. (ES) Rated R





Lucky Number Sleven -- Looks like a lot of those potboiler assassins-and-mob-bosses-with-innocent-people-in-the-middle, forced-to-do-extraordinary-things types of movies, except there's a palpably subversive bent to this slick thriller, suggesting it doesn't take itself too seriously. Stylized action and in-jokes ensue. Rated R





Mozart and the Whale & r & Containing the seeds of a good film but lacking the contextual soil within which such things sprout, here's a tale of a little-understood form of autism and the interpersonal strife it can cause. If you know about Asperger's, this film will make sense and will probably touch you. If you don't -- well, good luck. (LB)





Scary Movie 4 & r & Scream had the decency to stop at three films, but then, the Scary Movie franchise had the good sense to stop aping Scream after only two. The fourth film, now, mimics the third, lampooning films (War of the Worlds, The Village) with current-ish events (the president freezing on 9/11, Tom Cruise on Oprah) for what's sure to be light-hearted mediocrity. Rated PG-13





Sentinel -- Is that Jack Bauer? On the big screen? Yeah ... we think it's -- no, wait, it's just Keifer Sutherland cashing in on his 24 role. Sutherland plays some sort of federal law-bringer who is charged with finding a man who is plotting to kill the president. He follows the clues straight to -- wait for it -- his boss, the sexily innocent-looking geezer Michael Douglas. Rated PG-13





Silent Hill -- It's based on a videogame, but it looks like it's got higher production value than your average console-to-silver-screen port. Plus, it's directed by a French dude, Christophe Gans, with at least one good horrorish film under his belt (Brotherhood of the Wolf). Though full of cutting-edge effects, this is really an age-old story: woman loses daughter, woman searches for daughter -- and instead finds the heart of all evil. Rated R.





Take the Lead -- Here's another doctored-up Hollywood version of an "inspired by a true story" movie. In this one, Antonio Banderas, all cool and calm and smooth, gives us his take on New York ballroom instructor Pierre Dulaine, who apparently turned a bunch of troublemaking high schoolers into experts on their feet -- after they added hip-hop to the beat. Clich & eacute;-ridden and not the least bit believable. (ES) Rated PG-13





Thank You For Smoking & r & Aaron Eckhart plays a tobacco spokesman with a gift for what Plato called sophistry. He takes the talking points of Big Tobacco and turns them into air-tight arguments: "The number one killer in America is cholesterol ... and here comes Senator Finistirre who is clogging the nation's arteries with Vermont Cheddar Cheese." Directed by Ivan Reitman's son, this film is (if you haven't noticed) a satire. Rated R





V for Vendetta -- In a fascist London a couple of decades from now, a masked man named V rekindles the spirit of long ago would-be Parliament bomber Guy Fawkes. He wants the people to destroy the vile government, and grooms young Evey (Natalie Portman) to help with the task. Based on the series of comic books, this is slick, stylized, thrilling and visceral filmmaking. It's violent and thoughtful and fun. (ES) Rated PG-13





The Wild & r & This looks shockingly like Madagascar. Only difference it seems is that rather than escaping a New York zoo and ending up in Africa, this wild bunch escapes a New York zoo and purposely head to Africa, chasing some lion's cub or something. It remains unclear why the Koala has a Scottish accent. Rated G

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