now playing

June 23, 2006|By MICHAEL SRAGOW AND CHRIS KALTENBACH | MICHAEL SRAGOW AND CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN MOVIE CRITICS

Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach, except where noted. Full reviews at baltimoresun.com/movies.

Akeelah and the Bee -- follows a formula, one of the oldest in all of fiction: an underdog, struggling against the odds, seeks fame, fortune and - most importantly - self-respect. But this is one of the most winning movies of 2006 in its abundance of great intentions. (C.K.) PG 112 minutes B+

An Inconvenient Truth -- is more than a documentary of Al Gore's dynamic traveling slide show about global warming. It's a spiritual autobiography and a call to conscience that rests on Gore's credibility as a student of ecology and an individual engaged in the key conflicts of his time. (M.S.) PG 100 minutes A

The Break-Up -- is half a great movie: a biting, hard-hearted comedic look at what happens when former lovers take off the gloves and begin using each other as emotional punching bags. But The Break-Up doesn't offer insight into how the attraction between Vince Vaughn's Gary and Jennifer Aniston's Brooke arose. (C.K.) PG-13 105 minutes B

Cars, -- the latest computer-animated universe from director John Lasseter, contains only automobiles that have human features. But these cars overflow with heart, wit and new ideas. Lasseter turns a portrait of hot-shot Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) into a salute to slowing down and savoring life. (M.S.) G 116 minutes A

Clean -- is an eloquent, evanescent movie about the up-and-down attempt of a drug-addict mother (Maggie Cheung) to gain enough stability to reclaim custody of her son. Cheung is marvelous, and Nick Nolte acts with sandblasting purity as the boy's grandfather. (M.S.) R. 110 minutes B+

The Da Vinci Code -- issues a spray of perspiration - not from the hero (Tom Hanks) and heroine (Audrey Tautou) outrunning forces set on framing them for multiple murders, but from director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman as they try (and fail) to stay on top of Dan Brown's heavy, exposition-riddled plot. (M.S.) PG-13 149 minutes C

District B-13 -- boasts actor-athletes David Belle and Cyril Raffaelli, who turn kicking butt into jack-booted ballet. It's 2010, and the French government has disowned and walled off the most crime-ridden suburb of Paris. The plot clicks into gear when someone hijacks a neutron bomb and delivers it to the district's ruling drug lord. The entire film goes by like a theme-park cyclone ride. (M.S.) R 85 minutes B

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, -- the third and best entry in the series brings American bad-boy racer Lucas Black to Tokyo and introduces him to "drifting." The cars seem to move like high-speed hovercrafts, and the youthful crowds help give this spectacle a cavalcade of kicks. (M.S.) PG-13 105 minutes B+

Keeping Up With the Steins -- is equal parts a rumination on the rapacious silliness that comes from efforts to keep up with the Joneses and a tale of family rapprochement. Too bad the filmmakers couldn't settle on one plotline. The film tries to do too much, with too many changes of tone.(C.K.) PG-13 99 minutes C+

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties -- is tedious almost beyond endurance, an exercise in diminishing returns that takes the minor pleasures of the first film and makes believe the public is desperately clamoring for more. They aren't. The plot involves everyone journeying to London, where Garfield is mistaken for a cat of noble blood. (C.K.) PG 80 minutes D-

The Lake House -- features a mailbox that functions as a time portal and allows lonely doctor Sandra Bullock and lonely architect Keanu Reeves to correspond even though they live two years apart. It's so pitifully low on invention, it keeps reminding you of previous romantic retreads. (M.S.) PG 98 minutes C+

Mission: Impossible III -- will provide a satisfying ride for series fans. It hinges on Tom Cruise's abilities to race through city streets like the Flash or soar through the air and land safely thanks to super bungee cords and his virtuoso ways with a parachute. (M.S.) PG-13 125 minutes B-

Nacho Libre -- as a romantic comedy is cute. As an introduction to Mexican wrestling it promises more than it delivers. As a mix of the two, the film never seems to find its footing. Fans of star Jack Black are going to expect a gonzo romp. Fans of writer-director Jared Hess are going to expect a reprise of his Napoleon Dynamite. Neither side is going to be satisfied. (C.K.) PG 90 minutes C+

The Omen -- with Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles as the unwitting parents of the anti-Christ, is an almost scene-for-scene remake of the original 1976 film. Besides seeing Mia Farrow play a demonic nanny, there's not much to the film that a repeat viewing of its earlier incarnation couldn't provide. (C.K.) R 110 minutes C+

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.