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As an afternoon diversion for youngsters, there's nothing really wrong with this live-action caper comedy; it's just that there's no originality. It's "Spy Kids" with anthropomorphized household pets - and certainly not worth the 3-D price bump.
Derived from Yiddish and passionately promulgated by Mel Brooks, a "schmuck" is defined as a clumsy or stupid person, an oaf. And that perfectly describes hapless, buck-toothed Barry Speck (Steve Carell), who latches onto ambitious Fender financial executive Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd) and becomes his guest at a disastrously humiliating dinner for dummies, hosted by his snobbish, wealthy boss (Bruce Greenwood). The premise of this dubious gathering of "extraordinary people" is to find the biggest buffoon. And idiotic Speck fills the bill, foiling everyone's plans and causing general chaos.
Crafting a successful career is all about making choices, so I suspect that it's going to be a major disappointment to Zac Efron that he dropped out the upcoming remake of "Footloose" to headline this murky romantic melodrama, set in the scenic Pacific Northwest.
Angelina Jolie could turn out to be the #1 action star in the world. She's that good in a role written for Tom Cruise but rejected by him as being too similar to that of Ethan Hunt in the "Mission Impossible" franchise. She's a top-notch CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy and goes on the run in order to figure out who set her up.
For 60 years, six-to-12 year-old children have enjoyed books by Beverly Cleary, so it's actually quite surprising that it's taken this long to bring any of them to the big screen. Her ordinary, thoroughly believable characters dwell on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon, which is a real street, not far from her childhood home.
Back in the 1940s, the centerpiece of Disney's classic "Fantasia" was Mickey Mouse's borrowing his master's magical hat and causing havoc with mops and pails of water in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. But there's only a brief glimmer of that 10-minute symphonic sequence by French composer Paul Dukas in this noisy, heedless hodgepodge, based on a good vs. evil morality tale.
Like Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" trilogy, you need to read/see "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" in order to understand this sequel. In the first movie, crusading Stockholm business journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) enlisted the help of a punk, pierced-and-tattooed computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), to solve a 40 year-old cold case.
Just as James Cameron fashioned a far-distant world in "Avatar," Christopher Nolan has created an even more intriguing inner world in this terrifying new sci-fi thriller."

Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a master of extraction. Trained in high-stakes corporate espionage and the use of psychotropic drugs, he steals thoughts that are buried deep in the subconscious when the mind is most vulnerable. Problem is: he's now an international fugitive, unable to return to his family in the United States. So when a wealthy, mysterious businessman (Ken Watanabe) offers him a way home, Cobb agrees to perform a far more dangerous feat: to implant an idea in the brain of an industrialist heir (Cillian Murphy).

Susan Granger Reviews
'Despicable Me' Is Awesome

Entering the annals of dastardly animated supervillains is Gru (Steve Carrell), who's infuriated when a rival scoundrel swipes Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza. As the banker (Will Arnett) who finances nefarious activities observes, Gru's sinister plots often "don't turn a profit." But now Gru has a spectacular scheme: he's going to steal the Moon!
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, John McTiernan, who created the original back in 1987, should feel quite complimented - because there's not a shred of originality in this sci-fi sequel except, perhaps, the opening scene. It begins with an unconscious man, freefalling from a great height. He awakens mid-air, starts screaming and grabbing for the ripcord on a parachute he didn't know he had. Now that's an attention-grabber!

Special Forces operative-turned-mercenary Royce (bulked-up Adrien Brody) seems to be the leader of a motley band of professional killers who have landed with him on what appears to be a terra-formed world where they can breathe the air, drink the water and move about normally. But the sun always stays in the same place and several huge moons hover in the sky.
Don't even consider seeing this live-action fantasy-adventure unless a) you've been watching the animated Nickelodeon television series, or b) someone with you is familiar with the storyline. Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense, except that it's obviously the first chapter in a hoped-for future franchise.

In this mythological world, there are four Nations marked by the elements: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. Within each nation, certain individuals have the telepathic ability to control their particular element. However, only an Avatar can not only control all four and also communicate with the Spirit World.

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In Our Last Issue

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    Make no mistake: it's a sprint to the finish line. With roughly 6,000 Academy members voting on 282 eligible films, will the Best Picture be Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' or Ben Affleck's 'Argo'?
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