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box office

December 05, 2008

Four Christmases

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

$31.1

million

$46.1 million

1 1/2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 82 minutes

What it's about: After years of leaving the country for Christmas, a couple are forced to spend the holiday with their families.

: Our take: Yet another "Holidays+Families=Hell" comedy, but this one's surprisingly funny. Vince Vaughn, as one-half of the trapped couple, is his usual boarish self, but Reese Witherspoon (above) explores her lighter side to great effect as the other half.

:

Bolt

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

$26.6

million

$66.8 million

2 weeks

Rated: PG

Running time: 121 minutes

What it's about: A dog who plays a superhero on TV thinks he is one in real life, which presents all sorts of problems when he finds himself in New York, a continent away from his beloved owner.

Our take: The script is smart, its conceit a heart-tugger, and it's the first Disney effort in way too long to be more concerned with being a movie than with being a breeding ground for product tie-ins.

Twilight

** ( 2 STARS)

$26.3

million

$119.7 million

2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 121 minutes

What it's about: Good-guy vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart, above with Cam Gigandet as James) fall into a love that's immediate and absolute and not to be consummated - unless Edward decides to drink her blood.

Our take: This flesh-biter of a movie never turns into a nail-biter. The emphasis is on swooning, and the amorous thrills fade.

Quantum of Solace

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

$18.8

million

$141.4 million

3 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 106 minutes

What it's about: 007 avenges the death of his true love while obliterating a crooked international green-industry syndicate.

Our take: Daniel Craig (above), the most Byronic of all James Bonds, manages the astonishing task of rooting an outlandish yet sober-sided movie in reality and bringing it an air of wicked amusement, too.

Australia

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$14.8

million

$20 million

1 1/2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 165 minutes

What it's about: With a can-do Aussie spirit, English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman, above) and her right-hand man and lover, the Drover, end up running the ranch her murdered husband left her.

Our take: This film is made up of bits and pieces of other movies, including The Wizard of Oz; and by the end it's just a more-than-you-can-eat buffet of colorful kitsch.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

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

$14.2

million

$159.1 million

4 weeks

Rated: G

Running time: 89 minutes

What it's about: Alex the dancing lion (Ben Stiller) and his fellow expatriates on the island of Madagascar head back to New York on Air Penguin but crash-land in another part of Africa.

Our take: This uproarious cartoon suggests what would happen if Comedy Central and Animal Planet co-produced Roots III. Menageries of characters trace loony curlicues in and around the narrative.

Transporter 3

*** ( 3 STARS)

$12.1

million

$18.2 million

1 1/2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: Frank Martin (Jason Statham, above), who offers super-swift automotive transport of goods or people for the right price, no questions asked, breaks his rules more flagrantly than ever for the sake of his latest package - a Ukrainian beauty named Valentina (Natalya Rudakova).

Our take: If you're addicted to action, the movie itself will put you in adrenaline-freak heaven.

Role Models

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

$5.3

million

$57.8 million

4 weeks

Rated: R

Running time: 99 minutes

What it's about: Paul Rudd (above) and Seann William Scott play energy-drink salesmen who become mentors in the Sturdy Wings program for maladjusted kids.

Our take: Rudd and Scott, Jane Lynch, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson give the movie plenty of pungent moments before it dissolves into a sea of goo.

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