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box office

November 07, 2008

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

** ( 2 STARS)

$15.3

million

$62 million

2 weeks

Rated: G

Running time: 113 minutes

What it's about: High school sweethearts Troy (Zac Efron, above) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) 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.

Zach and Miri Make a Porno

* ( 1 STAR)

$10.1

million

$10.1 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 101 minutes

What it's about: Two childhood friends, Zach (Seth Rogen, above) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks), can't pay bills; then Zach gets the big idea of creating a porn movie.

Our take: This movie is so amateurish, there's no suspense to whether Zach and Miri will make their porno; the real excitement would come from Kevin Smith finally making a real live movie.

Saw V

No stars

$9.7

million

$45.5 million

2 weeks

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. Its stars include Julie Benz (above).

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

Changeling

** ( 2 STARS)

$9.4

million

$10 million

2 weeks (1 week here)

Rated: R

Running time: 141 minutes

What it's about: Angelina Jolie (above) plays a mother whose missing son is returned to her. But it's not her son, and when she tries telling that to the police, she gets thrown into a psychiatric ward.

Our take: Director Clint Eastwood is more interested in stoking his audience's sense of outrage than telling a nuanced story.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley

* ( 1 STAR)

$5.4

million

$5.4 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 101 minutes

What it's about: On the eve of her 18th birthday, a girl (Haley Bennett, above) discovers the evil lurking beneath the lush surfaces of her private girls school.

Our take: A first-time director delivers aural jolts but little real suspense in this lifeless thriller.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$4.9

million

$84.2 million

5 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.

The Secret Life of Bees

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

$4

million

$25.3 million

3 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 111 minutes

What it's about: A motherless white girl (Dakota Fanning) seeks 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. The performances of Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo as the Boatwrights give it substance.

Max Payne

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$3.7

million

$35.5 million

3 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.

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