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Love & Other Drugs Never Recovers from an Identity Crisis

Part Love Story, part Up in the Air with a smidge of the satirical spirit of Thank You for Smoking, Love & Other Drugs never quite knows what it is, and the story ultimately suffers for it. Truth be told, bothering to label it "good" is probably too strong of praise.

Uplifting Get Low Gets High Marks

An uplifting story of guilt, repentance and reconciliation, Get Low is a low-key work that is profound in its simplicity.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 22, 2011 |
  • comments
Dreamworks' Megamind a Familiar but Funny Trip

It's déjà vu all over again with Megamind, yet another superhero story in which super-villains go to great lengths to undermine the good guys. Think The Incredibles, Despicable Me, Shrek Forever After or… well, we've seen a lot of this sort of story recently.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 22, 2011 |
  • comments
This Generation's Planes, Trains & Automobiles Arrives in Due Date

Much like its R-rated Planes, Trains & Automobiles predecessor that starred Steve Martin and the late John Candy back in 1987, Due Date is also the madcap tale of two guys who would never take a cross-country road trip together, if extenuating circumstances weren't involved.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 22, 2011 |
  • comments
Extreme Situation, One-Note Characters Work in Unstoppable

The premise is simple, the execution is competent and the film delivers the requisite amount of crowd-pleasing thrills. And yet, the film feels a little too easy in the depiction of its main characters, who are sketched out with scant information about their motivations.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 15, 2011 |
  • comments
Waiting for "Superman" Explores How to Save Public Education

Whether or not viewers wholeheartedly agree with how documentarian Davis Guggenheim actually goes about proving his thesis, Waiting for "Superman" is still an important and compelling look at the current state of public education—unsightly warts and all.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 15, 2011 |
  • comments
Believable Chemistry Elevates Life As We Know It

In Life As We Know It, the latest rom-com to hit theaters, the combined charms of Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel, plus a little help from an adorable baby, ultimately elevates what could've been a big-screen sitcom gone seriously wrong.

  • Christa Banister |
  • February 08, 2011 |
  • comments
Depression Isn't So Depressing in This Funny Story

A film about depression that isn't depressing; how's that for a small miracle? Starring Keir Gilchrist and Zach Galifianakis, It's Kind of a Funny Story is a title perfectly suited to this appealing slice of despondent life, one that comes by its laughs in insightful ways.

Despite Weak Comedy, You Again Still Has Some Heart

If you've never seen a romantic comedy, or a story about old rivalries rekindled, then you might—just might—find You Again tolerable, even enjoyable. It's well performed by a game cast that tries to make the most of a limp screenplay that's virtually free of surprises.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 08, 2011 |
  • comments
A Few Scares Found in Paranormal Activity 2

Is there a broader point here? The filmmakers may be saving it for yet another sequel (which is sure to come), although after two films with the same style and approach to the material, one can't help but wonder if the filmmakers have figured out the point of their own story, or if they're just stringing viewers along.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 08, 2011 |
  • comments
Conviction Makes Its Case with Feeling

Based on a true story, Conviction delivers a life-affirming message about the pursuit of truth and the love of family. It's a powerful story wrapped in an unassuming package, but its adult language and content make it suitable only for more mature audiences.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 01, 2011 |
  • comments
Perils of Adolescence Brought Memorably to Life in Let Me In

Director Matt Reeves has taken the original Swedish film, Let the Right One In, moved the setting to 1983 New Mexico, and has crafted a beautifully realized film about the uncertainties and loneliness of adolescence. It also explicitly raises the idea that evil is quite real—although not always in the places we might think.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 01, 2011 |
  • comments
Monsters Stresses Somber Over Scary

Although it could have resulted in a unique hybrid of different styles, Monsters is unique more for its failure to generate any well-earned emotions—or thrills. Better to rent District 9, Cloverfield or The Host, which work much better on their own terms, than to try to make do with this.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • February 01, 2011 |
  • comments
Family-Friendly Secretariat a Safe Yet Ineffectual Film

Secretariat is a quintessential family film in this respect: there's nothing to complain about and nothing to rave about. It's safe, conventional, professional; an old-fashioned movie made up of warm fuzzies. In short, Secretariat is as inoffensive as it is ineffectual.

Action Movies Get Better with Age in Red

Like this past summer's surprise hit The Expendables, the bulk of Red's cast may qualify for AARP card-carrying status—Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, etc. But it's a serious mistake to underestimate their strength.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 25, 2011 |
  • comments
Stone Stumbles in Balancing Moral Questions

Stone is about religion and Christianity on one level, but it's not entirely satisfying on those subjects, nor is it particularly revelatory. The best that can be said is that it raises some intriguing ideas about the nature of faith and our ability (or lack thereof) to do good in the world.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 18, 2011 |
  • comments
Thought-Provoking Freakonomics Handles the "Truth"

Unlike many documentaries, Freakonomics is not dry or academic. The multiple directors, each of whom was assigned different segments of the film, often handle the material with humorous scripting and entertaining re-enactments of true-life events.

True Connection or False Validation is The Social Network's Question

The Social Network asks a broader question of us about the Web site Mark Zuckerberg founded: does Facebook offer true connection or false validation? The answer lies, as with all things, not in the amoral device being used but rather in the souls that use it.

Alpha and Omega is a Howl and a Miss

Alpha and Omega doesn't bother scraping the bottom of the barrel for cheap laughs. But even with a healthy dose of aw-shucks charm, this road-trip romance still lacks the warmth and sophistication, not to mention those essential eye-popping visuals, of its recent animated counterparts Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me.

  • Christa Banister |
  • January 11, 2011 |
  • comments
Sexual Jokes Coarsen Dinner for Schmucks

Dinner for Schmucks, a remake of the French farce The Dinner Game, expands on the original in many ways that improve the story, but it adds a heavy dose of sexual content that prevents the film from being easily recommendable.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • January 04, 2011 |
  • comments
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