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Dad Steals the Show in Sister Story Ramona and Beezus

The latest adaptation from Walden Media of a beloved series of children's books is unobjectionable G-rated family entertainment. It's not very cinematic, nor is it memorably performed by its lead actresses, but a charming performance by John Corbett as the girls' father helps the film immensely.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 09, 2010 |
  • comments
Storytelling Slacks in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Gamers will understand the structure and hodgepodge approach to storytelling in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—or so I'm told—but the rest of us, who demand a smidgeon of narrative and stylistic consistency, will wonder what this film has wrought.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 09, 2010 |
  • comments
Lazy Grown Ups Still Good for a Few Laughs

The new Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups is the movie equivalent of a skit that airs between 12:30 and 1 a.m. on Saturday Night Live. A lot of it falls flat, but if you're in a forgiving mood, you might find yourself chuckling despite your better judgment.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • November 09, 2010 |
  • comments
Charlie St. Cloud is More Creepy Than Weepy

The trouble with Charlie St. Cloud is that the screenplay tries to be so many things (part Field of Dreams, part The Sixth Sense, part The Notebook), that it doesn't do anything particularly well, including generating the necessary waterworks to win over its target demographic.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 09, 2010 |
  • comments
Imagination Soars to Infinity and Beyond in Toy Story 3

With the release of Toy Story 3 almost 11 years after its predecessor, the franchise continues to soar to infinity and beyond, thanks to heartfelt storytelling, great celebrity voice talent and imaginative action sequences featuring Woody, Buzz and the rest of everyone's favorite toys.

  • Christa Banister |
  • November 02, 2010 |
  • comments
Sex and the City 2 Even More Embarrassing Than Its Predecessor

For a show that's always championed the cause of sisters doin' it for themselves, Sex and the City 2 manages to derail that mission (and anything resembling good taste along the way) in an excruciatingly long two hours and 26 minutes.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 26, 2010 |
  • comments
Chilly Winter's Bone Gives Glimpse into Desperate Lives

Depicting the lives of the rural poor facing dire circumstances, Winter's Bone is not a pretty picture. Yet it is an artful film with a harrowing ending that delivers a punch to the gut that, unlike the effect of mainstream summer movies, lingers long after the closing credits.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 26, 2010 |
  • comments
Please Give Offers Plenty to Think About

Anyone who has ever lived in a big city will have their heart touched and their funny bone tickled by this sober comedy, directed by Nicole Holofcener, who has become known not only for her thoughtful films, but also for her television directorial credits.

How to Train Your Dragon is a Fun, Feisty Ride

Considering its intricately crafted animation and heartwarming story, you'd think How to Train Your Dragon was Pixar's latest flick. But it is a DreamWorks project, and it's refreshing to see a movie that doesn't rely on a slew of pop culture references and lowbrow humor to entertain.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 15, 2010 |
  • comments
Jonah Hex Adaptation Sputters and Stalls

This film has all the ingredients of a strong summer movie—it features a rising star (Josh Brolin) in the title role and Transformers It-Girl Megan Fox. Add John Malkovich to give it some serious-actor cred, and the on-screen energy should be combustible. But Jonah Hex is far from it.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • October 12, 2010 |
  • comments
Graphic Leaves of Grass Not for the Faint of Heart

Despite boasting a sharp and consistent wit and laugh-out-loud moments, Leaves of Grass is not for the faint of heart. Ultimately, this is a graphic morality tale about the extreme lengths people will go to for money, the consequences of greed, and the fatal ends of trying to control situations within sinful pursuits that we never really could control to begin with.

Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan Give Karate Kid a Little Kick

The screenwriters charged with rebooting The Karate Kid, starring Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, stick with a faithful, almost scene-by-scene remake of the 1984 film that made Ralph Macchio and the expression "wax on, wax off" household names.

  • Christa Banister |
  • October 05, 2010 |
  • comments
VeggieTales' Meaningful Life Points to God's Perfect Plan

With several blatant allusions to the classic holiday movie on which it is based, It's a Meaningful Life may well be one of the most poignant VeggieTales productions ever. The story honors family, integrity, and living faithfully the quiet life God has called most of us to live.

Iron Man 2 Suffices as a Serviceable Sequel

There are no real high points in Iron Man 2—no standout scenes that will have audiences talking as they leave the theater—but the overall product is sufficient to satisfy audiences in search of another dose of the Iron Man franchise. If it's not a sharper Iron, neither is it a duller one.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 28, 2010 |
  • comments
Adorable Babies Offers Peek into Little Minds

With no narration, subtitles and little in the way of actual cultural subtext, Babies definitely isn't your ordinary documentary. In fact, French filmmaker Thomas Balmes is content to let the audience draw its own conclusions as he beautifully captures the first year of four very different babies' lives.

  • Christa Banister |
  • September 28, 2010 |
  • comments
Raunch Knows No Bounds in Get Him to the Greek

A little bawdy humor goes a long way, and Get Him to the Greek goes much further than the bounds of good taste allow. That's part of the movie's calculus, of course—it offers scenes designed to shock, and scenes that will lead to can-you-believe-that moments of laughter.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 28, 2010 |
  • comments
Action-Packed Robin Hood Runs Long

Despite its running time, it's hard to look away from the well-composed images and action spectacles, and from the compelling actors trying to make something interesting of characters that should have been better fleshed out.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 21, 2010 |
  • comments
Mysterious Ondine Takes a Surprising Turn

Ondine, writer/director Neil Jordan's tale of personal healing and recovery, is more art house than mainstream crowd-pleaser, although the film eventually develops a bit of an identity crisis. What appeared to be a sure-footed, imaginative tale becomes something harder and more of a genre exercise.

  • Christian Hamaker |
  • September 21, 2010 |
  • comments
Actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley Finds Inspiration in Amish Grace

How would you react if one of your children was murdered? How easily would forgiveness come? Kimberly Williams-Paisley, star of Lifetime Movie Network’s original film Amish Grace, faced those very questions as she inhabited the role of a grieving mother.

  • Kelley Mathews |
  • September 14, 2010 |
  • comments
Believability Makes This Romance Just Wright

The biggest mistake someone could make after watching previews for Just Wright would be to decide that it's not for them. Or that it's tailored strictly for a minority audience. Many films with all African-American casts are, but this one is different. And better.

  • Jeffrey Huston |
  • September 14, 2010 |
  • comments
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