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By The Inlander & r & & r & ARE WE DONE YET?


Is this movie over yet? That's what I was asking myself after about 15 minutes of its relentless unfunniness. A remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, it features Ice Cube as a clueless buffoon who's suckered into buying a crumbling house, Nia Long as his pregnant and idiotic wife, and John C. McGinley as the smiling, overeager real estate agent. On all counts, a painfully bad movie. (ES) Rated PG





BLADES OF GLORY


Chazz Michael Michaels (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder) play figure skating rivals who get in a fistfight, earn lifetime bans, then must team up as the world's first all-male pair to continue skating. A movie about freakish effeminacy and close proximity between male testicles and male faces, Blades of Glory succeeds because it relies on situational discomfort, not homophobia, and because it doesn't take up too much of our time. (LB) Rated PG-13





THE CONDEMNED


Pro wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin, in his first screen outing, is actually pretty convincing as a death-row killer who's bought by a remorseless TV producer, along with nine other killers, then told he's participating in a Survivor-like Internet broadcast in which the last person alive gets freedom and a pile of money. Violent but not gory, and a dark, but entertaining take on TV viewers' bloodlust. (ES) Rated R








DISTURBIA


Kale (Shia LeBeouf), under house arrest, without his broadband Xbox connection and totally iTunes-less, finds alternate ways of spending his summer. Like spying on his neighbors, one of whom seems to be a serial murderer. An initially clever, intriguing remake of Hitchcock's Rear Window for teen audiences becomes a listless slasher flick. (LB) Rated PG-13





FIREHOUSE DOG


"Now, a dog who needs a home, and a kid who needs a friend ..." comes the trailer's voice over. "No mom and a firefighter dad," comes the peanut gallery, a coquettish firefighter edited in to provide perspective, before the voice-over guy chimes back in, "... are about to find each other." Sometimes a trailer tells you literally everything you need to know. Kid, check. Dead mom, check. Harried, absentee father, check. Lost dog. Yep, they got everything. (LB) Rated PG





FRACTURE


Poor big-screen courtroom thrillers: Law and Order has eaten up every conceivable murder angle, cat-and-mouse game and cross-examination conceit. Fracture gets by on pure ego. Anthony Hopkins plays a genius aircraft designer who shoots his wife in the face. Ryan Gosling is the cocky DA who has one foot in the private sector. He's drawn into Hopkins' case when the old fart goads him at the arraignment. What should have been a clock-punching exercise totally unravels Gosling's life. This is an excellent, tense clash of personas. (LB) Rated R





GRINDHOUSE


Tarantino and Rodriguez reach deep inside and bring out their exploitative best in their ferocious twin-bill homage to '70s sleaze films. Rodriguez's Planet Terror goes the zombie route, while Tarantino's Death Proof is all high-octane, high-speed car chases (and accompanying murders by Kurt Russell's way-over-the-top Stuntman Mike). The films are gory, funny and unforgiving. The fake trailers before and between them are indescribably outrageous. (ES) Rated R





THE HOAX


The story of Clifford Irving, who faked Howard Hughes' autobiography and almost got away with it, The Hoax is an uneven though successful look at an uneven though unsuccessful novelist and con man. (He's unsuccessful in the film anyway. The real Irving was pretty accomplished when he pulled his stunt.) Director Lasse Hallstrom doesn't know when to quit with the visual imagery and manic jump cuts, but the effect largely works, crafting Irving's lies out of the fabric of his truths. (LB) Rated R





HOT FUZZ


The boys who gave us Shaun of the Dead are back in town, this time hilariously spoofing cop-buddy films. Simon Pegg plays a London cop who's so good at the job, he's sent away to a small village so other city cops won't look bad. When villagers start getting knocked off -- and authorities are convinced they're all accidents -- our hero, and his well-meaning oaf of a partner (Nick Frost) literally leap into action. As violent as it is funny. (ES) Rated R





HURRICANE ON THE BAYOU


Katrina can be discussed in human, social and political terms in forums ranging from political roundtables to Spike Lee films. But Hurricane on the Bayou examines the hurricane as an ecological issue. Beginning as a documentary about the Mississippi Delta, the filmmakers end up turning their IMAX cameras on Katrina as an example of a worst-case scenario. The human and economic costs of ecological mismanagement are laid bare in 45 minutes. (MD) Not Rated; no deaths are depicted





IN THE LAND OF WOMEN


A softcore porn scribe moves back to Michigan from L.A. after being dumped by his hot French girlfriend. There he meets a woman and her daughter. Both kinda fall for him. Unfortunately, one has a lump on her breast and the other is like 16 (creepy). Is this supposed to be about cancer survival or Adam Brody's impish charm? Tries to be both, fails on all counts. (LB) Rated PG-13





THE INVISIBLE


A high school loner -- the artsy type, not the murderous type -- runs afoul of some fellow students and ends up way dead. Or, at least, mostly dead. His ghost leaves his body, returns to school and, amidst recontextualizing the world and attempting to communicate with his girlfriend (a la Patrick Swayze), realizes that he can totally still save his own life. (LB) Rated PG-13





KICKIN' IT OLD SKOOL


The best break dancer at his elementary school in the mid-'80s, Justin Schumacher had it all. Until, that is, he did a back flip off the school's stage and right into a 20-year coma. Now he's old as hell, out of the coma, and forced to break dance for the woman he loves. (LB) Rated PG-13





MEET THE ROBINSONS


Lewis is an orphan who wants to be an inventor. A shadowy figure lurking at his science fair, though, puts that desire in choppy waters and sends Lewis hurtling forward in time to confront his future. A cute, incoherent story about perseverance and self-confidence, Meet The Robinsons will convince you that, no matter how big a loser you've been previously, you can achieve anything. Something the filmmakers will want to remember as they go looking for their next project. (LB) Rated G





NEXT


A guy who can see two minutes into the future is pegged by the FBI to help them stop a nuclear detonation. Problem is, there's this girl he likes and... well, it's pretty obvious. You might even be able to see 90 minutes into the future yourself. It ain't rocket science, but as sci-fi action flicks go, Next is tense and likeable. (LB) Rated PG-13





PATHFINDER


A lousy movie about "barbarians" on one hand and "savages" on the other. Six hundred years ago, pre-Columbus, Vikings came to North America and started killing. Then they left, leaving behind a single Nordic child (whom the Indians name Ghost). Then they came back and did more killing. This time, though, they have Ghost to contend with. (LB) Rated R





ROVING MARS


The sound alone is deafening, and juxtaposed with Phillip Glass' crystalline musical score, the roar of a rocket pushing the rovers into space is impressive, as are the sights and sounds of the parachute test in a giant wind hangar. But this short IMAX film loses focus -- is it trying to recreate the surface of Mars with the help of CGI animation, or is it examining the space program? (MD) Rated G





300


The Greek-versus-Persian battle of Thermopylae comes to bloody, eye-popping life in the CGI celebration of the Frank Miller graphic novel. Fierce and noble King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his band of 300 men face off against the uncountable hordes of the bratty King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). Themes of diplomacy versus war arise, but once the swords come out, there's no escaping the cartoonish violence. (ES) Rated R





TMNT


This might not exactly please you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles purists. It's computer-generated, so it looks pretty, but also looks action-heavy and funny-lite. Worse, it centers on a battle with some "tech-industrialist" named Max Winters who has no connection to the original plots. On the plus side, there's hot ninja chick Karai from the original comic. Another plus is that it seems to start after the end of the second live action film, ignoring the regrettable existence of the third film that sent the turtles to colonial Japan. (LB) Rated PG





VACANCY


Motel Thrillers are where moderately attractive nice-guy actors sometimes go to get edgy. It never works (peep John Cusack in Identity if you don't believe me), but the compulsion persists. Here Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale seek refuge in a sketchy hotel after a rainstorm, where they unwittingly become the stars of a snuff film. Oops. (LB) Rated R





WILD HOGS


Four middle-aged friends, sick of their jobs, bored with their lives and generally having nothing to look forward to, take a cross-country motorcycle trip. Four essentially backboneless suburbanite dudes frequenting biker bars? You can be sure there'll be a little love and a whole lot uh learnin'. (LB) Rated PG-13

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