Report card

Staff critics give you the lowdown on the ten top movies, popcorn not included!

Movies

June 15, 2006

The Break-Up

What It's About: A couple (Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston) decide to break up, but neither wants to give up the condo they share.

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: This is half of a great movie: a biting look at exes taking off the gloves. But it fails to explain how these characters got together in the first place.

Grade: B

Cars

What It's About: Pixar's latest animation miracle envisions Al Gore's worst nightmare - a universe peopled entirely by cars.

Rated: G

The scoop: It's a vehicle for beguiling comedy and drama about a hot-shot racer (Owen Wilson) who slows down and discovers love, pain and the whole thing.

Grade: A

The Da Vinci Code

What It's About: Harvard symbologist Tom Hanks and Parisian cop cryptologist Audrey Tautou get framed for multiple murders and, while on the run, unlock the key to the Holy Grail.

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: The only pleasure comes from seeing Ian McKellen as a Holy Grail expert whip through the exposition as if it were Oscar Wilde or Shakespeare. Too bad it's not.

Grade: C

District B-13

What It's About: In 2010, an elite undercover cop on the trail of a neutron bomb infiltrates the most dangerous suburb of Paris with the help of a righteous native on the wrong side of the law.

Rated: R

The scoop: The story is basic, but the display of "parkour" prowess on the part of the two stars, Cyril Raffaelli and David Belle, is extraordinary.

Grade: B

Down in the Valley

What It's About: A mysterious cowboy (Edward Norton) ambles into California's San Fernando Valley with a couple of shirts and a duffel bag and wins the heart of a bored teenager (Evan Rachel Wood).

Rated: R

The scoop: Norton is as romantic as Montgomery Clift in Red River and as electric as James Dean in Giant, and Wood is a heartbreaker; they get you past a second half that becomes melodramatic and didactic.

Grade: B+

An Inconvenient Truth

What It's About: Al Gore delivers a pumped-for-the-big-screen version of his PowerPoint lecture on global warming.

Rated: PG

The scoop: It's compelling, scary and even a bit uplifting because Gore - yes, Gore - is such a humane, witty and lucid guide to the threats against our environment.

Grade: A

Keeping Up With the Steins

What It's About: A young boy wants a low-key bar mitzvah celebration, much to the dismay of his ultra-competitive dad (Jeremy Piven).

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: A movie that really can't decide what it wants; it's half a spoof of rampant one-upmanship, half tale of familial rapprochement.

Grade: C+

Over the Hedge

What It's About: Forest animals awaken from hibernation to find themselves surrounded by suburbia and debate whether to succumb to the temptations for easy food.

Rated: PG

The scoop: Young moviegoers will love the funny animals (voiced by Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, William Shatner, Wanda Sykes and others), while adolescents will enjoy the humor and adults the tongue-in-cheek sophistication.

Grade: A-

A Prairie Home Companion

What It's About: It's the last broadcast of a radio show very much like Garrison Keillor's beloved NPR standby of the same name.

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: Robert Altman and Keillor create a peerless funky fantasia with new characters including an irresistible sister act from Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin and an old-time singer played by the great L.Q. Jones.

Grade: A

X-Men: The Last Stand

What It's About: Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) line up on opposite sides, of course, after scientists find a "cure" for mutants.

Rated: PG-13

The scoop: It's always stimulating to return to the high-flying X-Men series. But this entry overdraws on the metaphor of mutants as minorities.

Grade: B-

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