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September 01, 2006|By Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach | Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach,Sun Movie Critics

Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach. Full reviews at baltimoresun.com/movies.

Accepted, -- in which a bunch of chronic underachievers found their own college, create their own curriculum and enhance their self-worth, isn't content to make sloth and irresponsibility funny; the movie has to go and make them noble as well. And while I have no problem with slackers making me laugh, when they start preaching, that's when my eyes roll. (C.K.) 92 minutes C

Barnyard, -- in which a feckless cow learns about responsibility, includes a few moments kids might find funny. But, for the most part, it's uninspired, not much to look at and laugh-free. (C.K.) PG 90 minutes C-

The Boynton Beach Club, -- in which a group of Florida seniors struggles to overcome losses both physical and spiritual, pays its aged characters an unusual cinematic compliment: It doesn't dwell on the idea that their days are numbered, or that they've outlived their usefulness, or that they should be pitied. Instead, this delightful, if perhaps too calculatedly winsome, comedy presents seniors who are coping with losses and challenges them to act like the young people they are at heart. (C.K.) Unrated 105 minutes B

The Descent, -- the story of six thrill-seeking women who get lost while spelunking, is the most exhilaratingly horrifying movie to come out in years, a squirm-inducing exercise in terror that relentlessly preys on one of the most basic human fears: being trapped. (C.K.) R 99 minutes B+

Idlewild -- Andre Benjamin and Antwan A. Patton, better known as Andre 3000 and Big Boi of the hip-hop duo OutKast, star respectively as Percival and Rooster, boyhood friends whose musical dreams play out in a Prohibition-era Georgia. In many ways, the film is an old-fashioned musical, the plot existing mainly as a framework for all the song-and-dance numbers. The style at first seems incongruous for a film set in the 1930s; rap and hip-hop, after all, are about five decades away. But choreographer Hinton Battle shows the two eras' styles aren't as dissimilar as one might think. (C.K.) R 115 minutes B

The Illusionist -- mixes the white and black magic of political subterfuge and hocus-pocus in a time and a place draped in elegant and risky mysteries -- turn-of-last-century Vienna -- and with characters exuding intrigue, including a low-born magician named Eisenheim (Edward Norton). This flight of fancy stays aloft on the power of its acting. (M.S.) PG-13 110 minutes B

Invincible -- is the story of Vince Papale (played by Mark Wahlberg), an out-of-work teacher who became a walk-on player for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1970s. Invincible is a formula film that works, yet another in a series of against-the-odds, inspired-by-true-life sports stories that Disney has made a regular part of its release schedule in recent years. Invincible gets its emotional power not so much from Papale himself, as from what he stands for: the possibility that, with a lucky break or two, good times are just around the corner. (C.K.) PG 100 minutes B

Little Miss Sunshine -- features the madcap Hoover clan from Albuquerque, N.M. (Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin), which unites to get the youngest Hoover (Abigail Breslin) to the Little Miss Sunshine contest in Redondo Beach, Calif. The action, the direction and the writing bring it the warmth as well as the madness of a crazy quilt. (M.S.) R 110 minutes A

Miami Vice, -- the new-millennium movie version of the seminal '80s TV hit, packs hard-grained texture and tingling moods into a bullet-riddled scenario. It sheds the series' famous and influential pastel look and plunges its cast of warriors (Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx) and woman of mystery (the incredible Gong Li) into the 21st century. It doesn't just make you want to rumble. It makes you want to rumba. (M.S.) R 130 minutes A-

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest -- is everything you feared the first would be: a theme-park spectacle lasting 2 1/2 hours. It doesn't just make you seasick -- the action on land is equally overblown, repetitive and clumsy. (M.S.) PG-13 151 minutes D+

Snakes On a Plane -- is pretty much a remake of The Poseidon Adventure, but with venomous reptiles instead of water. The formula remains the same: Put a bunch of people (most played by attractive, or at least familiar, actors) in inexorable peril and start knocking them off one by one, all the while amping up the desperation factor. Samuel L. Jackson hams it up to great effect as an FBI agent, but the snakes are the stars here, and they're a hoot and a half. (C.K.) 105 minutes B

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