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by Inlander Staff & r & & r & Accepted -- Steve Pink'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





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





Crank -- It's a rough day in Britain-land when you wake up and realize you're going to die -- that there's some sort of poison or other general nastiness coursing through your system (put there by bad, bad men) that will kill you. Soon. So you go around trying to kill the guys who are killing you. You might be looking for a cure but, then, you might just want to take a few of the bastards with you. Jason Statham plays the dying guy. We like him ... despite ourselves. 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 history, occurred. Unrated





How to Eat Fried Worms -- The disgusting stuff is what all the fourth-grade boys are going to be shouting about while skateboarding away from the multiplex. What they won't realize is how the worms are just a cover for some advice about bullying, friendships and self-reliance. (MB) Rated PG








THE ILLUSIONIST


A complex story simply told, it's the tale of a magician pulling rank and class to get the girl. Cleanly crafted, subtly acted and dulcetly shot, it's a film so conspicuously evocative of time and place you forget, for long stretches, it was made in a cinematic world run by overwrought CGI. (LB) Rated PG-13





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 -- A roadtrip in which six not-so-different family members are forced into a VW bus and made to fight out their differences en route to a state beauty pageant, Little Miss Sunshine is about the contemporary American archetypes that make much of our country such a deeply unhappy place. It's a good film, but an incomplete one. (LB) 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 -- Everyone 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 swallow his soul. 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





The Quiet -- Everything's cool until some orphaned deaf, mute chick moves in with Nina Deer's family -- the girl is like Nina's parents' goddaughter or something -- and totally effs up Nina's pristine, respectable high school life, like forever. Naturally, murder and the unraveling of dark family secrets ensue. Rated R





Snakes on a Plane -- Though meant as pure entertainment, it is, at times, a sly satire on its genre without ever being above it. Like all good disaster films, it's inclusive of race and social standing. It assembles all its victims and then kills them one by one -- and like most horror films, it kills them based on its own twisted sense of moral balance and fair play. It's hilarious and much better than I expected. (LB) 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





TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY -- Will Ferrell finally gets a script 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





The Wicker Man -- Okay, so here's what. Nic Cage's daughter died or something and now, on a mission to save some other girl from vaguely frightening abduction-type scenarios, the line drawn in his reality between the daughter he couldn't save and the girl he might just be able to save blurs. It's a remake, but Neil LaBute is like Kid Rock, an American bad ass. Rated PG-13





WIRED TO WIN -- A kind of meditation on the mental components of physical success, the film uses an upcoming touchstone, the Tour de France, as a way to get people thinking about the way our brains work in conjunction with our bodies. (LB) Unrated





WORLD TRADE CENTER -- Oliver Stone takes an unexpectedly delicate approach in his 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 and their 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 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

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