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June 2009
Imagine That ... Murphy Makes an Enjoyable Family Film

Eddie Murphy’s previous efforts in family films have left a lot to be desired: stories really worth telling and a heartbeat beyond those gimmicky attempted laughs. Fortunately for Murphy, Imagine That has both in spades.

 
Sub-Par Sub Car Drama in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The Taking of Pelham 123, a remake of a 1974 film that starred Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, has two solid lead performances from Denzel Washington and John Travolta but suffers from certain excesses common to modern-day action films.

 
Food, Inc. Gives New Meaning to Watching What We Eat

Many squeamish moments aside, Food, Inc. is still a great example of informative, compelling filmmaking, aside from those occasional diversions into boring pie chart territory à la An Inconvenient Truth.

 
Land of the Lost Should've Stayed Lost

Unlike the smart writing and savvy direction of Star Trek, Land of the Lost only has Will Ferrell's over-the-top attempts to deliver the funny. And when some of the movie’s biggest laughs involve Matt Lauer, you know you're in trouble. Deep trouble.

 
The Hangover Hits Bottom for Laughs

The Hangover continues the trend toward outrageous, raunchy R-rated comedies. That domain, dominated by writer/director Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin), can make room for director Todd Phillips among its list of big names.

 
Slapstick and Stereotypes Leave My Life in Ruins Flat

In My Life in Ruins, characters are the most broad versions of themselves—well suited for a short sketch but insultingly flat for a feature-length film. It's comedy-as-cliché, sticking solely to slapstick and stereotypes and lacking any hint of dimension.

May 2009
Pixar's Up Soars with Emotional Depth

Much like the trailer for Marley & Me, which was all doggie cuteness without any indication of the sadness waiting in the wings, there’s so much more to Up than balloons and barbs traded between an over-eager boy scout and a grumpy old man.

 
Actresses Help "Brothers" Bloom

If you're weary of capers that make you root for lovable criminals, then The Brothers Bloom isn't for you. But, I have to admit that this film is somewhat enjoyable, thanks to outstanding performances from Rachel Weisz and Rinko Kikuchi.

 
More Zany Adventures on Display in Museum Sequel

Can lightning strike twice in the same place? It can if you switch locations and seriously revamp the storyline, which is exactly what the filmmakers smartly did this time around in the sequel, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

 
No Salvation for Fourth Terminator Installment

This latest Terminator is full of action-movie clichés—acceptable by action-movie sequel standards—but it's a hollow, mechanical film that advances a story without expanding the underlying themes in any significant way.

May 2009
Stars Give Special Quality to Management

Management is a great example of the power of casting. By giving Steve Zahn the starring role alongside Jennifer Aniston, we become witness to an unexpected, winning chemistry, thanks in part to impressive performances from lead actors and stellar supporting work.

 
Angels & Demons Is Not the Movie You Think

On film, Angels & Demons is rewritten to follow the events of The Da Vinci Code. And so Christians are perhaps not unjustified in expecting this prequel/sequel to deal with our faith in a heavy-handed fashion. But it does not.

 
Star Trek Goes Back to the Future

A favorite sci-fi franchise is reborn with Star Trek, director J.J. Abrams' take on the early days of James T. Kirk, Spock and the other well-known crew members aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. The film’s fresh approach to the well-worn franchise takes viewers back to the origins of the crew's beloved characters.

 
The Sharpest Thing About Wolverine Are the Claws

Unlike last year's Iron Man, a perfect blend of larger-than-life popcorn movie with a coherent, intriguing storyline, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is nothing more than a series of special effects eventually wasted on a predictable script.

 
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Lifts the Spirit a Bit

The jokes and discussion about the main character’s sexual escapades push Ghosts of Girlfriends Past well into “PG-13” territory. But the central character’s transformation, while predictable, gives the film a bit more depth than might be expected.

 
3-D Gives Battle for Terra Its Fighting Spirit

While low-budget, Battle for Terra is still an engaging tale that provides an intriguing change of pace for sci-fi fans. And in 3-D, Terra positively sparkles, thanks to eye-popping visuals and imaginative set-ups.

April 2009
"Jesus People" Proves Even Christians Can Be Funny

From beginning to end, Jesus People, pokes some fun at the idiosyncrasies of mixing faith and art in the Christian music industry. But unlike, say, 2004’s Saved, those providing the tongue-in-cheek commentary don’t mock God in the process.

 
The Soloist Is a Pitch Perfect Portrayal of Grace

The Soloist entertains and inspires with its pitch-perfect portrayal of redemption between an unlikely duo. And for Christians and otherwise, it’s also a powerful reminder that authenticity and not bailing when the going gets tough is always the best way to live.

 
Sex, Guns and Blood Charge Crank: High Voltage

Like its predecessor, Crank: High Voltage is the twenty-first century equivalent of ‘70s exploitation B-movie cinema—but taken to a whole other graphic level. It’s utterly pointless, intentionally ridiculous and very explicit as it revels in sex, guns and blood.

 
"17 Again" Doesn't Exactly Rewrite History

With a recycled premise (Freaky Friday, Big, 13 Going on 30) and lukewarm life lessons, 17 Again is really nothing more than a good excuse to capitalize on leading man Zac Efron’s charm and hard work at the gym.

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