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June 30, 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

Art School Confidential -- is intermittently exhilarating. Director Terry Zwigoff (Bad Santa) skewers not just the jocks who taunt the artist hero (Max Minghella) in high school, but the clueless members of his family and, most of all, the pseuds who surround him at the Strathmore Institute, a fashionably decrepit art school. When the hero falls for a smart, gorgeous art model (Sophia Myles), it becomes an unwieldy combination - bitter and semisweet. But robust, intelligent contempt is so rare that we should treasure the caustic pieces of it here. (M.S.) R 102 minutes B

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+

Click -- continues the fascinating process of watching Adam Sandler mature onscreen. The frat-boy humor remains, but as in 2004's 50 First Dates, it's leavened by honest heart, compelling inventiveness and the acknowledgment that not everything in life exists to be snickered at. Sand- ler plays Michael Newman, a too-successful architect whose drive and ambition leave no time for his family. Things seem to get better when he gets hold of a universal remote that really does control his universe, but as one might suspect, unforeseen problems soon arise. Click, with its nods to It's a Wonderful Life, suggests a much more harmonious marriage between the comedic and the heartfelt than many of Sandler's critics may have ever thought possible. (C.K.) PG-13 98 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-

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