Report Card Staff Critics' Takes On The Top Movies

November 06, 2008

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

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.

Rated: PG

The scoop : Lots of talking dogs, little of anything else.

Grade : * 1/2

Changeling

What it's about : Angelina Jolie (above) plays a single mother whose missing son is returned to her. Only it's not her son, and when she tries telling that to the Los Angeles police, she gets thrown into a psychiatric ward. Based on a true story from 1928.

Rated: R

The scoop : Jolie is simply too modern an actress to play a 1920s mother, no matter how much they dowdy her up or layer on the pancake makeup. And director Clint Eastwood is more interested in stoking his audience's sense of outrage than telling a nuanced story.

Grade **:

Happy-Go-Lucky

What it's about : Poppy, a London primary-school teacher (Sally Hawkins, above), puts together a jolly life with an existential do-it-yourself kit.

Rated: R

The scoop : Everything about this movie is primary in a good way, including the bold, bright colors and the values of imagination and creativity Poppy fosters in her primary school.

Grade ***: *

High School Musical 3

What it's about : Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens, above) is on a fast track to Stanford; Troy (Zac Efron) has yet to tell his hoops coach and dad that he may not attend the University of Albuquerque. And most of the seniors unite to put on the best darn spring gala ever.

Rated : G

The scoop : 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. But with almost everyone trying to out-nice each other, your mind may wander toward shadier questions.

Grade: **

Pride and Glory

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.

Rated: R

The scoop : Featuring superb performances by Norton, Colin Farrell, Noah Emmerich and Jon Voight, 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.

Grade : *** 1/2

Rachel Getting Married

What it's about: A recovering addict (Anne Hathaway, above) on a weekend pass from rehab for the marriage of her sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) operates like an irritant and a truth-detector on family and friends.

Rated: R

The scoop: Hathaway gives a performance unique in its perspective and profound in its volatility; she carries you on an emotional whirligig that can be horrifying and funny, hopeful and devastating.

Grade : ****

RocknRolla

What it's about : Gerard Butler and Idris Elba star as low-life pals who attempt to better themselves through London real estate, and wind up in debt to the self-described criminal headmaster of everything Old School (Tom Wilkinson). Chris Bridges (above) also stars.

Rated : R

The scoop : It's like being compelled to pay attention to a nonstop rock station you normally use as background noise while you're doing chores. The words are catchy and the beat keeps you awake, though all of it quickly fades.

Grade: ** 1/2

Zach and Miri Make a Porno

What it's about : During a dingy Pittsburgh winter, two childhood friends and current roommates, Zach (Seth Rogen, above) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), can't pay rent and utility bills; then Zach gets the big idea of creating a porn movie and selling it to members of their high school class.

Rated: R

The scoop : This movie is so amateurish and slovenly, there's no suspense to whether Zach and Miri will make their porno; the real excitement would come from lower-rung auteur Kevin Smith finally making a real live movie.

Grade: *

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