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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & Accepted -- Steve ink's directorial debut (he was the screenwriter on John Cusack's great black comedy Grosse Point Blank) is a slight but punchy comedy of college-aged misfits that starts out strong before slipping down a greasy narrative slope into a lackluster third act that denies most of the earlier laughs. (CS) Rated PG-13





The Ant Bully -- What is this film about? Well, apparently an ant. And a mean one. Apparently, some kid gets shrunken, lives with ants and helps them in their struggle against wasps. Apparently Tom Hanks thought it was a good idea. Rated PG





Barnyard -- Steve Odenkirk, of Kung Pow: Enter the Fist fame, helms the story of Otis, a cow who plays with the idea of revealing animals' biggest secret (that they're just like people). While the movie is being pitched as a wacky anthro animal romp, Odenkirk insists that there are serious themes afoot. Rated PG





Beerfest -- Why do they always wait till the end of summer to release the true blockbusters? This one's about a secret beer-guzzling competition held behind the friendly fa & ccedil;ade of Oktoberfest in Germany. When some American dudes stumble upon the festivities, it's time to prove once and for all who can party hardest. The Germans may have invented beer, but don't forget: It was Americans who came up with the beer bong. Rated R





The Dark Crystal -- Like all great artists, Jim Henson was strange. What, exactly, are the Muppets? The Fraggles? The Doozers? His demented whimsy found its darkest, most alien manifestation in The Dark Crystal, a bleak fantasy full of elf-like Gelflings, and carrion-eating bird men that resemble walking Swiss Army knives. And since Henson was a hands-on (not just hands-in) guy, the film has the real feel of, well, something real. Something real strange. Plays midnight Friday and Saturday at the Garland. (MD) Rated PG





The Descent -- Including a made-for-TV talkie of that name, there have been four films in the last three years called Descent. What are the odds? Sub-question: What are the odds that this film -- about a spelunking expedition that is cut murderously short by evil cave things -- will be any different than that other film about cave horror (The Cave)? Pretty good, turns out. It's a taughtly paced romp with multiple scare sources (dead family, monsters, closed spaces) that gradually amps up the gore to a torrent of red. (LB) 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





How to Eat Fried Worms -- On the first day back at school, everybody knows the drill: Don't do anything that will earn you a hard-to-shake nickname or get you beat up. Poor fifth-grader Billy; on his first day at a new school, he picks a fight with the playground bully. Only by answering the challenge in the film's title can he survive the day. Sounds goofy, but it's based on the book, which has been a top seller among kids since it was written in 1973. Rated PG





An Incovenient Truth -- The film humanizes Al Gore, which allows a film about our impending death to global warming to transcend the statistics-and-cute-animals mire of most environmental documentaries. But Gore, the non-android, plays a supporting role here, as narrator of the world's biggest psychological conflict: America's better judgment versus her destructive vices. It's a fine, simple film, and an entertaining one. Let's hope somehow it'll be a mindset-changing one, too. (LB) Rated PG





Invincible -- The latest in an endless series of true "inspirational" sports stories that Hollywood likes to pump out with regularity. The Philadelphia Eagles suck so bad they decide to hold open tryouts. Enter 30-year-old Vince, a schoolteacher and bartender who knows how to catch and run and save the day at every local sandlot football game with the guys. It won't surprise anyone that he tries out and survives cut after cut and ... well, there's no point in giving away an ending that everyone will know is coming well before they sit down. Sometimes formula works, but not very often. And Invincible is certainly no Friday Night Lights. (ES) Rated PG





Little Miss Sunshine -- An extended family trying to be as normal as possible -- despite a gay, suicidal uncle (Steve Carell), a 10-year-old bucktoothed, bespectacled beauty queen (Abigail Breslin) and a son (Paul Dano) who refuses to talk after reading Nietzsche -- embark on a trip to California for the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Sure it's a road film (overdone plotline) and a beauty pageant film (overdone indie plotline), but Carell hasn't let us down yet, and Greg Kinnear is on a mini-roll. Rated R





Material Girls -- So, uh, ready for a riches-to-rags story? We are, especially if it stars those adorable Duff Sisters. Hillary and Haylie are the heiresses of a fabulous little cosmetics giant until a scandal freezes their assets and sends them slumming to the world of, you know, day jobs. There they most likely learn important lessons about things you can't learn when you're independently wealthy. This leaves them with a unique perspective when -- as always happens -- their wealth is restored. Rated PG





Monster House -- This computer-animated film looks like it's for the kiddies, but has moments that are too intense for anyone 5 or younger. Everyone else will likely laugh and scream over the tale of a trio of kids who go up against a truly haunted house. (It has a mind of its own, and it can move.) Spectacular visuals, great performances, excellent accompanying music -- and a story filled not only with surprises but even with a little heart. (ES) Rated PG





Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest -- Cast, director and writers are back for the midsection of the raucous trilogy about Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). This time, everyone is after Sparrow, including the ghostly Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) who wants to, you know, swallow his soul. Great comic acting mixes with big-time adventure. Depp overdoes it to perfection, and all is set up beautifully for next year's conclusion, which will feature Keith Richards as Depp's dad. (ES) Rated PG-13





Pulse -- Ghosts and demons have found the Internet via a "special frequency" -- like maybe a special setting on your modem or wireless router or something -- and now a group of unsuspecting kids who've stumbled upon said "special frequency" are finding pale, bald evil things attacking them in laundromats and whatnot. Advance screenings warn Woolite has little effect. Rated R





Snakes on a Plane -- Either you're going to want to see a movie about snakes on a plane or you're not. At least you'll know where you stand on this film about an assassin's heavy-handed attempt to kill a protected witness flying from Hawaii to California because it's called Snakes on a Motherf***in' Plane! And we don't want to hear no gripin' about "Oh I didn't know what it was about." For what it's worth, we've got a pilot friend who is more suspicious about the flying aspects of the film than the snakes. Rated R





Step Up -- We at The Inlander get a little cranky when we have to go more than, like, four months without a film about a plucky boy/girl from one side of the tracks befriending, on the dance floor, a more refined boy/girl from the other side of those tracks. Thank God for Step Up, then; we nearly got suicidal. Bad-side-of-the-tracks guy looks like a krumper (so hot right now) and the good-side-of-the-tracks girl is a ballerina. They're going to learn valuable lessons about judging book covers. Rated PG-13





Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby -- Will Ferrell finally gets a script (which he co-wrote) that's worthy of his comic talents. He plays the title character, a loose cannon on the NASCAR circuit who becomes a star, falls upon hard times, then must attempt a comeback. But he's up against a former partner (John C. Reilly), a smarmy French challenger (Sacha Baron Cohen), and a newly developed fear of speed. Lots of exciting racetrack scenarios and raucous humor. (ES) Rated PG-13





Wired to Win -- It's the Tour de France in grand Imax pseudo-scientific fashion. Follow racers through the grueling, 20-plus stage road race and watch, through the magic of computer graphics wizardry, how their brains react. Unrated





World Trade Center -- Oliver Stone takes an unexpectedly delicate approach in his nonpolitical, human-interest focus on what happened in Manhattan on 9/11. This is the story of two Port Authority cops who were trapped beneath the rubble of Tower One. It's about their practically implausible thoughts of survival and of their loved ones at home. And it's about those loved ones wondering if the men in their lives were still alive. Terrific low-key performances by Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena, and a great script that avoids the big picture but stays with a microcosm of that awful day's events. (ES) Rated PG-13





You, Me and Dupree -- You, Me and Dupree is a sitcom that subsists on Owen Wilson's ever-boyish projection of an innocence that has overstayed its welcome long into adulthood. As Dupree, Wilson plays the best friend to his pal Carl (played with easy humility by Matt Dillon). Carl and his newlywed wife Molly (Kate Hudson) live under the shadow of her possessive father Mr. Thompson (Michael Douglas), who doubles as Carl's real estate tycoon boss. A hilarious dinner table scene with the four main characters spikes the movie into a stratosphere of humor beyond its otherwise predictable restraints. (CS) Rated PG-13





Zoom -- An ex-superhero is enlisted to instruct a bunch of good-fer-nothin' kids in the art of superhero-stry. It's like Bad News Bears, minus Richard Linklater, minus Billy Bob Thornton, minus a PG-13's worth of profanity, plus Tim-the-frickin'-Tool-Man Taylor. So more like Boring News ... boring, just boring. Rated PG

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