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Movie picks 

Films recommended by our reviewers are indicated by an *.

*50/50 (R)

As stridently as the comedy-drama 50/50 works to avoid sentimentality, it manages to be more than a collection of caustic anecdotes because of how committed Joseph Gordon-Levitt is to his character's humanity. Which makes it all the more frustrating that the movie is merely a good film instead of a great one. — Scott Renshaw

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Abduction (PG-13)

The film focuses on a youth who discovers the parents who raised him aren't his real folks, a revelation that triggers events and leaves him running for his life. — Not reviewed

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Cars 2 (G)

It felt like Pixar promised us that it would remain grounded in something more vital than the sparkle and speed of contemporary computer-generated movie-making. But with Cars 2, it feels as though that promise has been broken. — Scott Renshaw

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*Contagion (PG-13)

This is no mere disaster movie; it's a meticulous doomsday scenario imagined by someone with a clear need to visualize the worst as a salve to his anxiety. — Justin Strout

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Crazy, Stupid, Love. (PG-13)

For two hours, the film offers up a terrific cast and some genuinely funny moments, but its inability to find real greatness can be encapsulated by one scene — an attempt at sophistication that's too often undercut by sitcom simplicity. — Scott Renshaw

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*The Descendants (R)

The film is an almost dirge-like story about grief, but so much more than that. George Clooney plays Matt King, a Hawaiian real-estate baron; it's a triumph for all, especially the audience. — Justin Strout

Cinemark 16, Kimball's Peak Three, Tinseltown

Happy Feet Two (PG)

Weirdness, as Rango proved, isn't, of course, an automatic deal-breaker when it comes to animated features. But nothing here coheres in a meaningful way. It's all a big pile of crazy, with no one scooping up after it. — Scott Renshaw

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Cinemark 16 IMAX, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

*Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (PG-13)

It's fair to say that while Hallows 2.0 is far from a perfect piece of filmcraft, director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves know exactly how to guide us through this final chapter. — Scott Renshaw

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The Help (PG-13)

Set in Mississippi in the '60s, a Southern society girl returns from college determined to become a writer, but she turns her friends' lives upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their adult lives taking care of prominent Mississippi families. — Not reviewed

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*Immortals (R)

Immortals is pretty much completely bonkers — that is its secret and its glory. It's sort of about mad King Hyperion, but what's important here isn't what's going on, but how what is going on is presented. The style is substantial, the meat of the meal here. And it is hugely intriguing. — MaryAnn Johanson

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

J. Edgar (PG)

Director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have as a subject one of America's most enigmatic, polarizing figures in J. Edgar Hoover, and yet J. Edgar almost never offers the buzz of discovery. It's merely a 50-year kaleidoscope of American history, with the founder of the modern FBI serving as Forrest Gump. — Scott Renshaw

Chapel Hills 15, Hollywood Interquest, Kimball's Peak Three, Tinseltown

Jack and Jill (PG)

Family man Jack (Adam Sandler) must deal with his twin sister, Jill, when she visits for Thanksgiving and then will not leave. — Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

The Lion King (G)

A chance to catch Walt Disney Picture's 32nd animated film again, in theaters for two weeks only. — Not reviewed

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Puss in Boots (PG)

Puss in Boots takes arguably the best part of the last two Shrek movies, stretches it as thin as can be, and leaves us hating cats. Well, maybe not hating cats. But this movie plays like one of Puss' tired, well-worn boots — it feels used and recycled, with a few good kicks but really on its last leg. — Dan Hudak

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown*Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

Escapism isn't about what happens on the screen, but what happens to us: You want to lose yourself in a movie. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the essence of the summer flick, and this is how you do it. — MaryAnn Johanson

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Seven Days In Utopia (G)

The film follows the story of Luke Chisolm, a talented young golfer. When his first big shot turns out to be a very public disaster, Luke escapes the pressures of the game and finds himself unexpectedly stranded in Utopia, Texas, which is home to eccentric rancher Johnny Crawford. — Not reviewed

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The Smurfs (PG)

A hybrid live-action and animated family comedy. When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the Smurfs out of their village, they're forced through a portal and into our world. They must find a way home. — Not reviewed

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Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (PG)

Marissa Cortez Wilson's world turns upside down when the Timekeeper threatens to take over the planet and she is called back into action by the OSS. — Not reviewed

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The Three Musketeers (PG-13)

This should have been the next Pirates of the Caribbean: a funny, sexy, raucous adventure with neat-o dueling and a whole buncha goofy nonsense. Instead, it is leaden in places where it should be light. If Alexandre Dumas wrote a Resident Evil movie, this would be it. This is a terrible, terrible movie: It cheats; it's flat and empty; and it ends with the threat of a sequel. — MaryAnn Johanson

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*Tower Heist (PG-13)

When the typical working-class schmoes who keep a ritzy Manhattan residential building running efficiently discover they've been defrauded out of their pensions by one of the residents, a Wall Street sleaze whom they should never have trusted with their very hard-earned money, they decide to rob him of his millions as literal payback. It's really as simple as that. Yet, I'm truly stunned by how much I love Tower Heist. But delightedly so. Seriously, see this movie and ask yourself why more big, silly entertainments can't be this smart. — MaryAnn Johanson

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (PG-13)

In The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, Bella and Edward, plus those they love, must deal with the chain of consequences brought on by a marriage, honeymoon, and the tumultuous birth of a child which brings an unforeseen and shocking development for Jacob Black.— Not reviewed

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

*A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (R)

Of course, there are moments where the jokes don't work, and even though it clocks in at just 90 minutes, the buzz feels like it's wearing off in the movie's later stages. But the movie succeeds by remaining sweet as a sugarplum, and dank as best buds can be. — Anders Wright

Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Zookeeper (PG)

Kevin James stars as a lovelorn zookeeper who gets a little help from his animal buddies in order to find a mate. — Not reviewed

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