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At the Movies

The Associated Press


The comedy troupe Broken Lizard’s tale of extreme beer drinking plays out like a college kegger that gets off to a bad start but picks up steam as the suds flow. The movie’s dreadful at the outset, without a laugh in sight, but slowly improves as the troupe manages some genuinely funny jokes and sight gags. The five-man team behind the cop spoof “Super Troopers” again writes and stars: Jay Chandrasekhar (who also directs), Erik Stolhanske, Paul Soter, Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme. The thin plot centers on two brothers (Stolhanske and Soter) who stumble on a secret beer-consumption competition in Munich and enlist three pals (Chandrasekhar, Heffernan and Lemme) for a team to challenge their hated German cousins. Cloris Leachman, Juergen Prochnow and Mo’Nique co-star. R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse. 112 min. Two stars out of four.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer

“How to Eat Fried Worms”

An engaging, lighthearted family film that’s a lot tastier than its title implies. The movie has victims taking on bullies, something we all can relate to. It’s got a parent-approved message of tolerance and understanding that’s not too sappy for children to appreciate. It’s got a passel of goofy kids with weird names and distinctive faces whose idiosyncrasies would make them fit right in on any grade-school playground. It’s got a good dose of humor that’s cute without being overly sentimental. And for the kid in all of us clamoring to be yucked out, it’s got worms: gross ones, icky ones, pan-fried ones, microwaved ones. Writer-director Bob Dolman’s adaptation of Thomas Rockwell’s novel stars Luke Benward as the new kid at school, whose encounter with a bully (Adam Hicks) lands him in a bet over whether he can eat 10 worms in a single day. PG for mild bullying and some crude humor. 84 min. Three stars out of four.

– David German, AP Movie Writer


Let us now praise the men of OutKast for their ambition, if not their aim. The duo has tried to do something unique with this musical drama set in the 1930s. It wildly blends genres and eras and features a high-class cast and heavy visual tricks. The film is extraordinarily imaginative, often stylish and fun – what else would you expect from co-stars and co-producers Andre Benjamin and Antwan A. Patton? – and at times it can even be magical. Ultimately, though, the pervading anachronism is just too jarring. The rich, deep visual texture becomes too overbearing. And the movie feels like it will just never end. The songs in “Idlewild” (and the recently released accompanying soundtrack disc, which makes you wonder, which came first?) include a mystifying mix of rap, swing, jazz and R&B. Maybe they work when you’re listening to them on your headphones, but on stage, in film form, they come off as strangely inert. And that’s the last word you’d ordinarily use for such a vibrant, dynamic group. Terrence Howard, Ving Rhames, Ben Vereen, Macy Gray and Paula Patton co-star. R for violence, sexuality, nudity and language. 120 min. Two stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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It’s a great story. And it has the added benefit of being (mostly) true. In 1976, at the start of his first year as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach, Dick Vermeil issued an open call to anyone who wanted to try out for the team. Hundreds showed up. One guy made it: Vince Papale, a lifelong Eagles fan who happened to be at a crossroads at age 30, but who also happened to possess explosive athletic abilities and even greater heart. The aptly titled “Invincible” is his story – or rather, it’s “inspired by” his story. (The filmmakers took a few liberties, but they’re acceptable.) And, like its predecessors “The Rookie” and “Miracle,” it’s remarkably un-Disneyfied for a Disney movie. Longtime cinematographer Ericson Core (“The Fast and the Furious”), who directs for the first time and shot the film, and screenwriter Brad Gann take a stripped-down look at Papale’s unlikely pro football career and at the economic hardships Papale and his friends endured in working-class South Philly in the 1970s. And in Mark Wahlberg, himself a product of a poor upbringing in South Boston, Core has the ideal star. Greg Kinnear plays the young Vermeil, with the increasingly versatile Elizabeth Banks costarring as Papale’s future wife. PG for sports action and some mild language. 108 min. Three stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic


So maybe this isn’t the most original movie in the world. It’s a little like “Animal House,” a little like “Revenge of the Nerds” and a lot like “Old School.” It calls to mind elements of “Real Genius,” “National Lampoon’s Van Wilder” and “PCU,” which starred a then-unknown Jeremy Piven and seems to be playing somewhere on cable television 24 hours a day – even though it came out in 1994. And maybe its premise isn’t the most plausible: A bunch of slackers and weirdoes form their own college, where “liberal” doesn’t even begin to describe the liberal arts education. Doesn’t matter. “Accepted” is a lot more fun than you’d expect from a comedy coming out in the dead of summer. Directed by Steve Pink from a script by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Mark Perez, and featuring a performance from the infinitely likable up-and-comer Justin Long, the film has a certain subversive elan that keeps it light on its feet – until the very end, that is, when it turns self-righteous and takes itself way too seriously. Blake Lively, Jonah Hill and Lewis Black co-star. PG-13 for language, sexual material and drug content. 92 min. Two and a half stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“Snakes on a Plane”

Famously, this wasn’t shown to critics before opening day. Something to do with letting the fans see it first, allowing them to enjoy a purer moviegoing experience. And truly, the hype from the title alone has built to such a frenzied din – or a deafening hiss, if you will – why bother screening it? Ordinarily this makes critics very cranky, but in this case it was the perfect choice. Because this is the kind of movie that’s ideally suited for the rowdy, crowded communal experience, the likes of which we haven’t seen since “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” It’s a rare example of a film not just living up to the hype, but surpassing it. And it’s the best time you’ll have at the movies all summer, if not all year. Granted, it’s difficult to separate the two – the sensation of watching the film en masse and the film itself. Having said that, “Snakes on a Plane” does stand up on its own two, er, feet as a thrilling action flick. It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do, and it does so in brilliant fashion. It’s intense and suspenseful, scary and gory, darkly funny and sometimes giddily hysterical. Samuel L. Jackson is the guy you want at the controls, starring as an FBI agent escorting a murder witness on a redeye flight across the Pacific Ocean. Also on board are hundreds of deadly snakes, which a crime lord has arranged to take the witness out. R for language, a scene of sexuality and drug use, and intense sequences of terror and violence. 90 min. Three and a half stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“Step Up”

Take “Fame” and suck out all the sex and nudity, take “Romeo and Juliet” and drain it of the preteen suicide and iambic pentameter, and you have this thoroughly formulaic but mildly enjoyable dance movie. Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan star as a tough kid from a Baltimore foster home and a privileged ballerina who are unexpectedly drawn to each other through their shared love of dance. The two end up fusing styles and falling for each other while working together on a routine at a prestigious arts school. It’s totally mindless summer eye candy: Everyone’s great-looking, everyone’s preternaturally talented. This is the first feature from choreographer-turned-director Anne Fletcher, so at least the dance sequences are refreshing and high-energy. That’s more than we can say for the script, which was co-written by Duane Adler – who also wrote “Save the Last Dance,” yet another film that “Step Up” so obviously resembles. PG-13 for thematic elements, brief violence and innuendo. 98 min. Two stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“World Trade Center”

There isn’t a single gratuitous minute in Oliver Stone’s film, which recreates the endless hours in which two Port Authority police officers (Nicolas Cage and Michael Pena) were trapped beneath the rubble of the twin towers on Sept. 11 and tracks the panic of their family and friends who waited anxiously for news of their rescue. But it’s also the safest film Stone has ever made. This is a director you expect to grab hold of an historical event – as he has with the Vietnam War in “Platoon” and the Kennedy assassination in “JFK” – and shake it tirelessly until some meaning falls out, some perspective that perhaps we hadn’t cared or dared to consider. What Stone has come up with here is an exceptionally crafted, strongly acted, high-end made-for-TV movie. It’s visceral and intense, exceedingly faithful in its depiction of the fear and chaos, the ash and smoke, that enveloped New York that day. And yet it provides no insight, offers no political statement, doesn’t even begin to broach the subject of terrorism. Maria Bello and Maggie Gyllenhaal give beautiful, moving performances as the officers’ wives. PG-13 for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images and language. 129 min. Three stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“Material Girls”

At least the clothes are fun. Then again, with a title like that, they’d better be. This shrill comedy, which shockingly wasn’t screened for critics before opening day, stars real-life sisters Hilary and Haylie Duff as heiresses Tanzie and Ava Marchetta, who take over the family’s cosmetics empire after their father dies (a development that’s played for weird, uncomfortable laughs). Paris and Nicky Hilton exhibit more character nuance, and they’re vaguely more entertaining to watch. Both Marchetta sisters consistently look fantastic and fashionable in their layered necklaces, Louis Vuitton bags and $200 jeans – even after they find out they’re broke and a scandal puts them in danger of losing the company to rival Fabiella (Anjelica Huston, slumming elegantly). Ava staggers around making whiny remarks like, “I feel bloated” and “I am a federal emergency.” Tanzie insists she needs to buy new shoes because her Jimmy Choos are killing her, and wonders why she can’t use unemployment money to go shopping. No one in this movie is likable. No one merits our affection or our sympathy. PG for language and rude humor. 99 min. One star out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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