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Box Office

October 31, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

** ( 2 STARS)

$42

million

$42 million

1 week

Rated: G

Running time: 113 minutes

What it's about: High school sweethearts Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens, above) struggle with the idea of being separated as college approaches.

Our take: It contains high-energy singing and dancing, and it's refreshing to see a high school movie that eschews gross-out gags and elevates romantic courtship rites.

Saw V

No stars

$30.1

million

$30.1 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 88 minutes

What it's about: The gory horror franchise continues as the latest Jigsaw killer works to keep his identity a secret.

Our take: Saw V is a particularly dull and discombobulated affair, shot and acted with all the flair of a basic-cable procedural.

Max Payne

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$7.8

million

$29.9 million

2 weeks

Rated: R

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg, above), a former New York lawman, now the chief librarian of his precinct's cold-case files, chases the most frigid case of all: the murder of his wife and infant child.

Our take: You can forgive the slow-mo bullet effects since they're endemic to the genre. What kills Max Payne is that the characters think in slow motion.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$6.9

million

$78.1 million

4 weeks

Rated: PG

Running time: 91 minutes

What it's about: A spoiled Chihuahua named Chloe (voice of Drew Barrymore) gets dognapped and taken to Mexico City, where some newfound friends (including a German shepherd named Delgado) try to help her and her million-dollar Harry Winston collar get home.

Our take: Lots of talking dogs, little of anything else.

Pride and Glory

*** 1/2 ( 3 1/2 STARS)

$6.3

million

$6.3 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 130 minutes

What it's about: Edward Norton (above) plays Ray Tierney, a New York cop pulled into a task force investigating a shootout that took down four fellow officers.

Our take: Featuring superb performances by Norton and Colin Farrell, this tale of a bred-to-the-blue policeman captures the richness and the insularity of police work - and its horrifying potential for corruption - when it's done as a family business.

The Secret Life of Bees

*** 1/2 ( 3 1/2 STARS)

$6

million

$19.3 million

2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 111 minutes

What it's about: A motherless white girl (Dakota Fanning) seeks a refuge from her abusive father with her surrogate mother (Jennifer Hudson, above) in the home of the black Boatwright sisters.

Our take: The film's honest emotions keep it from getting too sappy, and the performances of Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo as the Boatwright sisters give it substance.

W.

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$5.1

million

$18.5 million

2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 131 minutes

What it's about: The film portrays the greatest flops of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin, above), a washout as a student and a president but brilliant as a frat boy.

Our take: The movie plays like a dunk-the-clown game at a carnival. Through intent or ineptitude, director Oliver Stone sets up the Bush family and administrations as caricatures.

Eagle Eye

** 1/2 ( 2 1/2 STARS)

$5.1

million

$87.9 million

5 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 118 minutes

What it's about: A mysterious woman who seems able to control any electronic device coerces an aimless slacker (Shia LaBeouf) and a single mother (Michelle Monaghan, above) into implementing a plot that may bring down the U.S. as we know it.

Our take: It's moderately gripping, but, too often, watching this movie is like seeing someone else crack a jigsaw puzzle.

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