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'Because I Said So'

Everything about this movie screams out generic chick flick _ and we mean scream, literally _ from the forgettable title to the excruciatingly corny ending. In between, director Michael Lehmann runs through a veritable checklist of cliches. (Is it possible this man made the deliciously vicious "Heathers" nearly 20 years ago?) There are the unbelievable characters who say and do contrived, sitcommy things. The montages of shopping and furniture rearranging. The caffeinated score to punctuate all those wacky moments (Diane Keaton discovering online porn). The gaggle of women graphically discussing their sexual hijinks. And of course, the repeated cutaways to a cute dog reacting to all this shrill nonsense. Keaton plays the overly meddlesome, highly emotional mother of three daughters who worries that her youngest (Mandy Moore) will stay single the rest of her life. Naturally she crafts an Internet ad and secretly arranges the girl's dates. Gabriel Macht and Tom Everett Scott play the would-be suitors who are so vastly opposite, it's obvious whom we're meant to root for from the start. PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, some mature thematic material and partial nudity. 111 min. One star out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

'Smokin' Aces'

So obviously derivative of Guy Ritchie's bloody, hyperkinetic style of ensemble crime flick, this could have been called "Lock, Stock and Two Smokin' Aces." Writer-director Joe Carnahan (whose previous films include the vastly superior, intelligent "Narc") also channels Quentin Tarantino and Tony Scott with his hip dialogue and high body count. Which is a shame, because Carnahan clearly has the capability of establishing a voice of his own. But amid all the freakish and sadistic hit men (and women) converging on Lake Tahoe for the $1 million prize to assassinate magician Buddy "Aces" Israel, it's impossible to care about or root for a single one of them. They're all such self-consciously two-dimensional villains _ and that especially includes Israel himself, played by Jeremy Piven with an obnoxious mix of coked-up bravado and bleary-eyed paranoia. Carnahan veers wildly between dark comedy and over-the-top violence but never quite gets the tone right. (He does get a couple of good scenes out of Alicia Keys and Jason Bateman, though.) Ray Liotta, Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck, Taraji P. Henson and Andy Garcia are among the overly large cast. R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use. 109 min. One and a half stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

"The Pursuit of Happyness"

There is never any doubt that Will Smith's Chris Gardner will muddle though, that he'll find a job, make some money, secure a home and achieve the elusive, intentionally misspelled state of the film's title. After all, this is "inspired by a true story," and after all, this is Will Smith. They don't make movies about homeless guys who remain homeless by the time the closing credits roll _ and if they do, they certainly don't release them at Christmas. It's all predictable stuff. Yet Smith does make you root for him, because beneath that bad mustache and cheap suit he's actually acting and not just playing the clown, something he hasn't done in truly convincing fashion since 1993's "Six Degrees of Separation." The scenes in which he runs around San Francisco, seeking comfort and shelter for himself and his young son, have a convincing familiarity _ probably because that really is Smith's son, 7-year-old Jaden Christopher Syre Smith, playing the part. And at its core "The Pursuit of Happyness" is a good story _ one that's literally rags to riches, and didn't need the many tweaks and embellishments that have been added. PG-13 for some language. 116 min. Two stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

"Catch and Release"

Writer Susannah Grant, directing here for the first time, seems to be aiming for the same kind of meaty chick flick she's come up with before in "28 Days," "Erin Brockovich" and "In Her Shoes." Instead this fish-themed romance flops wildly all over the place _ from heavy poignant moments to slapsticky comedy, with a healthy dose of soapy melodrama in between. What's worse is that her characters sound like people saying things that were written for them, not real people behaving organically, believably. Jennifer Garner stars as a young woman whose fiance dies in a boating accident on the eve of their wedding. She's forced to move in to his house with his roommates, played by Kevin Smith and Sam Jaeger, where she learns all kinds of horrible things about the man she loved that she never knew before _ which makes her realize she never really knew him, or herself. Garner's character also falls in love with one of the dead fiance's buddies, played by Timothy Olyphant, which seems implausible and kind of crass. And, if you'll pardon the pun, a little fishy. PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use. 111 min. One and a half stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

"Epic Movie"

Attempting to compensate for its own lack of originality and humor, it spoofs several dozen films, a few MTV shows and, of course, Paris Hilton. With the flimsiest of story lines, the movie is more spliced-together mimicry. It was directed and written by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who were among the "brains" behind the similar "Scary Movie" franchise and 2006's "Date Movie." Here, they mostly satirize summer blockbusters, framing the film in a spoof of "The Chronicles of Narnia," an odd choice. "Narnia" may have been a big hit, but action films and comic book adaptations are far more representative blockbuster fare. "Epic Movie" should have been a "Superman" or "Hulk" parody. Instead, it merely jumps from spoof to spoof. One rapidly begins to miss the truly inspired slapstick of "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun," which knew to leave their source material in the dust. PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and some comic violence. Running time: 86 minutes. Half a star out of four.

- Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

"The Messengers"

This wasn't screened for critics before opening day, not because it's bad but because it's a horror movie, and horror movie fans don't read reviews anyway. What it is, however, is derivative _ a cross between "The Birds" and "The Amityville Horror," with some third-act sprinklings of "The Shining." If you're going to steal, you may as well choose quality source material, and Hong Kong brothers Danny and Oxide Pang ("The Eye") have done just that with their first English-language feature. Working from a screenplay by Mark Wheaton, based on a story by Todd Farmer, the Pangs also have added their own Asian-terror touches. The ghosts who inhabit the creepy, creaky farm house in North Dakota crawl about with that familiar staccato scamper, their faces and bodies ashen, their hair black and stringy. While "The Messengers" is very au courant stylistically, it's pure old-school horror thematically: a haunted house in the middle of nowhere, a small town with weird locals, menacing crows that swoop and peck, and lots of sharp farm equipment lying around. Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller and Kristen Stewart play the unsuspecting family members who move in. PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing violence and terror. 90 min. Two stars out of four.

- Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

Comments

Scott Stanford 7 years, 8 months ago

Magpie:

Fair criticism. We are having a feed problem with our Web site that we are working to resolve. And if we can;t fix it ASAP, we're going to kil the link.

I apologize for this. It is unacceptable and will be resolved.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221/(970) 291-9278

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Scott Stanford 7 years, 8 months ago

The movie showtimes link now works. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Scott Stanford Editor, Steamboat Pilot & Today (970) 871-4221/(970) 291-9278

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