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May 23, 2008|By Michael Sragow or Chris Kaltenbach

Capsules by Michael Sragow or Chris Kaltenbach, unless noted. Full reviews are at baltimoresun.com/movies.

Baby Mama -- Tina Fey inhabits what should be her comfort zone as a career woman who decides to use a surrogate to have a baby and ends up with raucous, declasse Amy Poehler. As the movie makes its way toward a denouement that leaves everyone happy-ever-after, the film feels emptier than your typical successful high-concept comedy. Part of the problem is the center will not hold: The TV stars are outmatched by a strong supporting cast (Greg Kinnear, Maura Tierney, Holland Taylor, Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver and more). (M.S.) PG-13 96 minutes C

Chop Shop -- A young Latino street urchin carves out a niche in a Queens, N.Y., auto-body row known as the Iron Triangle, or Willet's Point. In Alejandro, a tough, resourceful 12-year-old, the movie boasts an anti-hero who inspires hope, even when he steals hubcaps and a handbag. (M.S.) Unrated 85 minutes B+

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian -- The four children from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe return to their beloved kingdom of Narnia and attempt to liberate it from evil humans with the help of a rebel prince, Caspian. It's a spectacle of marvels filled with terror, love and joy. (M.S.) PG 140 minutes A

The Forbidden Kingdom -- A South Boston kung-fu fan (Michael Angarano) stumbles on an antique staff that catapults him into a medieval Chinese-fantasy universe of soldier monks, witches and immortals. Jackie Chan and Jet Li make a splendid comedy-action team in a spectacle that showers affectionate irreverence on martial-arts classics as well as kitsch milestones like The Karate Kid. (M.S.) PG-13 113 minutes B+

Forgetting Sarah Marshall -- A slobby composer (Jason Segel) who gets dumped by his sleek TV-star girlfriend (Kristen Bell) heads for a Hawaiian resort and finds her there with her new lover. This movie is like a long night at a friendly saloon; it's erratic but replete with wayward charms. Mila Kunis is a knockout as the girl the anti-hero gets on the rebound. (M.S.) R 110 minutes B

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay -- In this sequel, roommates Harold and Kumar set off for Amsterdam, the Netherlands, so Harold can chase the woman of his dreams while the lads can smoke all the weed they desire. On the plane, Kumar hauls out a homemade bong, which is mistaken for a bomb. Off to Gitmo! You'll smile at some bits, wince through many others. (Chicago Tribune) R 102 minutes C-

Iron Man -- Robert Downey Jr. stars as Tony Stark, a self-absorbed munitions tycoon who gets kidnapped by enemy weapons dealers and creates new-millennial armor that turns him into a superhero. Director Jon Favreau and two teams of screenwriters root Iron Man's high-flying derring-do in a change of heart that clicks first emotionally, then comedically, and ultimately in both ways. Stark gains a novel slant on life that makes him see everyone from a fresh angle, including three close associates: his right-hand gal Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), his business partner and surrogate father, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), and the U.S. military's liaison with Stark Industries, James "Rhodey" Rhodes (Terrence Howard). What gives the movie its lift is that it plays these changes for humor as well as risk and pathos. Iron Man never falls into the trap of winking at the audience -- the only thing "arch" about it is its villain -- and it never seems overcalculated, either. So far this spring, as far as live-action would-be blockbusters go, all that glitters is iron. (M.S.) PG-13 120 minutes A-

Made of Honor -- Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Monaghan and Kevin McKidd star in what is the male version of My Best Friend's Wedding (1997). Tom (Dempsey) only realizes that his friend Hannah (Monaghan) is the one for him after she returns from a business trip and announces that she's engaged to be married to Colin (McKidd). Unaware of Tom's new interest in her, Hannah asks him to be her maid of honor, helping her prepare for her happy day. Tom agrees because he is determined to sabotage this wedding. (Los Angeles Times) PG-13 101-minutes C

Redbelt -- David Mamet's contemporary noir stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as the owner of a jujitsu academy in Hollywood who gets drawn into the movie biz. The film makes a good case for how hard learning life lessons can be when the fight is between what's morally correct and what's economically expedient. (M.S.) R 99 minutes B

Son of Rambow -- A schoolboy falls prey at age 11 to the visceral power of movies when he watches Rambo: First Blood. Even when the film loses its focus, it never entirely loses its wit -- and, at its best, it's a comic epic for half-pints. (M.S.) PG-13 96 minutes B

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