Movie Picks 

click to enlarge Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate in Anchorman.
  • Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate in Anchorman.

50 First Dates (PG-13)
As much as I enjoyed this romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, I want to scold the director for succumbing to gross-out jokes to attract Sandler's core audience. Henry (Sandler), a veterinarian at Sea Life Park, Hawaii, meets Lucy (Barrymore) unaware that she suffers from a brain trauma that causes her short-term memory to erase each night. Henry falls for her and decides that the best thing for Lucy is to face her memory problem. Barrymore holds the film together and has rarely been so captivating. -- Kathryn Eastburn

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The Alamo (PG-13)
The Texas revolution is retold before, during and after the epic siege of the Alamo where 183 Texans, including Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) and James Bowie (Jason Patric), took on a Mexican army of nearly 2,000. Also stars Dennis Quaid. -- Not reviewed

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America's Heart and Soul (PG)
Documentary filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg traverses from sea to shining sea, camera in hand, capturing the beauty of the American landscape and the spirit of ordinary American people. -- Not reviewed


Around the World in 80 Days (PG)
Phileas Fogg (Steve Coogan) makes a bet with his gentlemen's club that he can make it around the world in a mere 80 days. With Passepartout, a Chinese thief played by Jackie Chan as his companion, the pair uses a variety of means of transportation, including boats, trains, balloons and elephants to elude the many dangers they face. The adventure is set in the year 1872 and is based on the book by Jules Verne. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Chronicles of Riddick (PG-13)
Five-hundred years from the present, we find anti-hero Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) as a fugitive with a price on his head who is caught in the middle of the "10th crusade" -- a battle waged by warrior priest Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) for the future of all beings in the galaxy. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Day After Tomorrow (PG-13)
You can enjoy Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, but you'll have to suspend your disbelief so hard you might acquire several hernias. The film, while providing an excuse to rehash debates over global warming, will likely do nothing for environmentalism. Dennis Quaid does an admirable job as the scientist possessed of the truth but not an audience, and Jake Gyllenhaal is his soft-spoken son who inherits his dad's intellectual traits but has trouble with girls. The film's plot is lost to its showcasing of CGI effects, making the entire movie too familiar -- think ice and snow instead of reptilian extraterrestrials. -- John Dicker

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (PG-13)
To save a local gym from extinction, a group of misfits enters the ultimate dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas. The cast of this comedy includes Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor and Ben Stiller. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Ella Enchanted (PG)
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Envy (PG-13)
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*Fahrenheit 9/11 (R)
You can like director Michael Moore or not, admire or dislike his previous films, but you'd be hard pressed to deny the power of Fahrenheit 9/11. Little is revealed that hasn't already been reported in the mainstream press at least once over the past four years. But in Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore has meticulously pieced together all the disturbing tidbits, and the cumulative effect is startling. Moore's research is deeper, his editing stricter and the reach of documentary footage richer in this film than in his others. More importantly, he keeps himself out of the frame more often than not. If many neutral moviegoers who might not otherwise be motivated to vote are galvanized by Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore, the guy who right-wing pundits love to accuse of hating America, will have served his country well.

Kimball's Twin Peaks, Tinseltown

Garfield: The Movie (PG)
Jon Arbuckle (Breckin Meyer) gets a new dog Odie, who is then kidnapped by a mean dog trainer. Everyone's favorite fat cat Garfield (voiced by Bill Murray) comes to the rescue. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Grand Canyon (NR)
Cinemark IMAX

*Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (PG)
From the first moments of the film I was entranced -- despite being (up until then) Harry Potter illiterate. We find Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his two best friends, prickly Hermione (Emma Watson) and nave Ron (Rupert Grint), in their third year at Hogwarts, the school for young wizards in training. The school's labyrinthine stairways, talking paintings, goofy student body and eccentric faculty are all captivating. Adding to the excitement of daily course instruction, the presumed murderer of Harry's wizard parents, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), has just escaped Azkaban Prison and is reportedly out to get Harry. The acting sings, including that of the adolescent actors, and director Alfonso Cuaron's version of J. K. Rowling's vision is swirling, rich, terrifyingly beautiful, as it captures the dark magic and moodiness of the Harry Potter oeuvre. -- Kathryn Eastburn

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Cinemark IMAX, Tinseltown

*Hidalgo (PG-13)
Frank T. Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) is a cowboy who enters "The Ocean of Fire," a 3,000-mile race across the Arabian Desert. Presiding over the race is a sheik played by Omar Sharif, and watching from the sidelines is Lady Davenport, who sizes up Hopkins' cute cowboy butt like so much horseflesh. Hidalgo is an old-fashioned horse tale/ screen romp that falls somewhere between Seabiscuit and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Mortensen and the mustang enjoy an easy rapport, and their journey over mountains of dunes, through sandstorms and across centuries is a pleasure to watch. -- Kathryn Eastburn

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Home on the Range (PG)
When an eviction notice shows up at the gates of the Patch of Heaven dairy farm, three cows take it upon themselves to prevent their home from being taken away. An animated feature with the voices of Roseanne Barr, Judi Dench, Jennifer Tilley and Cuba Gooding Jr. -- Not reviewed

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*Kill Bill Vol. II (R)
The second installment of Kill Bill is as much of a delight as the first and easily the director's best work since Pulp Fiction. Unlike Vol. I, which was marked by acrobatic kung fu orgies and preposterous body counts, the final installment doles out more psychological drama than straight up killing. Tarantino has previously taught us that even the most murderous gangsters can be redeemed. Kill Bill's lesson is similar and sillier: being a ruthless killer and a good mom are not mutually exclusive. Handy stuff to know, strangely enjoyable to watch, and probably a good idea to forget. -- John Dicker

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*Mean Girls (PG-13)
Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is a 16-year-old raised in Africa by her anthropologist parents. When her mom is relocated, Cady is inaugurated into the social viper pit of American high school and finds herself caught between two polarized cliques: semi-intellectual Lizzy Caplan (goth chick) and Daniel Franzese (queen extraordinaire) and "The Plastics," a group of popular girls led by Regina (Rachel McAdams). Mean Girls is a smart comedy splattered with ingenious writing from Tina Fey although its attempt to skewer the image-obsession of teen girls while making a sexy spectacle of their bodies suffers from its own contradictions. -- John Dicker

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By now, you probably know that NASCAR is the most popular spectator sport in America and Middle America's unofficial pastime. The film is a 47-minute "NASCAR For Dummies" primer that includes a brief history of the sport, short profiles of its legends and a brief exegesis of its technical underpinnings. Of course, there's no shortage of vroom and boom -- with plenty of point-of-view shots taken inside the speeding cars and sprawling shots of surging racetrack crowds to rival Triumph of the Will. This sport is HUGE. -- John Dicker

Cinemark IMAX

The Notebook (PG-13)
When a young woman (Rachel McAdams) meets a local mill worker (Ryan Gosling) in the summer of 1940, they fall deeply in love. But WWII soon pulls their worlds apart. They are united again seven years later, but does their love endure? Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Passion of the Christ (R)
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Sacred Planet (NR)
Cinemark IMAX

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (PG)
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Shrek 2 (PG)
In Shrek, the first installment of this computer-animated series, the lovable ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) vanquished the evil Lord Farquaad to win Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) as his bride. In Shrek 2, he faces a more daunting challenge: meeting the in-laws. With the voices of Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous), Antonio Banderas as famed ogre-killer Puss In Boots and, of course, Eddie Murphy as the mischievous Donkey. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Spider-Man 2 (PG-13)
See full review on page 28.

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Stepford Wives (PG-13)
Stepford, Connecticut, is a modern, upper-class, planned community where everything is perfect. Wives are totally complacent and submissive to their husbands. When a new couple arrives in town (Nicole Kidman and Matthew Broderick), a strange inquiry into the truth begins. The housewives may be blissful, but also doomed. Frank Oz directs this remake of a 1975 horror classic. Based on the book by Ira Levin. -- Not reviewed

Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

The Terminal (PG-13)
An immigrant (Tom Hanks) fleeing a war-torn Eastern European country arrives in an airport terminal in New York City at the exact moment the war causes his nation to no longer exist. Without valid paperwork for entry into the United States, he takes up residence in the terminal itself, befriending the staff and falling in love with a flight attendant (Catherine Zeta-Jones). -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Two Brothers (PG)
Twin tiger cubs are separated during their youth. Yet years later, an adventurer (Guy Pearce) reunites the brothers -- pitting them against each other in a fighting match. -- Not reviewed

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Van Helsing (PG-13)
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White Chicks (PG-13)
Two African-American men (Marlon and Shawn Wayans) go undercover for the FBI as white Hampton socialites Tiffany and Brittany Wilson. -- Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown


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