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box office

December 12, 2008

Four Christmases

*** 1/2 ( 3 1/2 Stars)

$16.8

million

$69.4 million

2 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: 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.

Twilight

** ( 2 STARS)

$13

million

$138.4 million

3 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 121 minutes

What it's about: Good-guy vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, above) and human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) fall into a love that's 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.

Bolt

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

$9.8

million

$79.4 million

3 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.

Our take: 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.

Australia

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 STARS)

$7.1

million

$30.9 million

2 1/2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 165 minutes

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

Our take: This film is made up of bits of other movies, including The Wizard of Oz. It's just a more-than-you-can-eat buffet of colorful kitsch.

Quantum of Solace

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

$6.8

million

$151.6 million

4 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) manages the astonishing task of rooting an outlandish yet sober-sided movie in reality and bringing it an air of wicked amusement, too.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

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

$5.1

million

$165.7 million

5 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.

Transporter 3

*** ( 3 STARS)

$4.7

million

$25.5 million

2 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, breaks his rules for the sake of his latest package - a Ukrainian beauty.

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

Punisher: War Zone

No stars

$4.3

million

$4.3 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 107 minutes

What it's about: Ray Stevenson (above) stars as Frank Castle, aka the Punisher, a U.S. commando who turns himself into a vigilante killing machine.

Our take: The director, Lexi Anderson, a karate and kickboxing champion, simply uses spiked skulls, speared throats and torsos as exclamation points.

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