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Box Office

December 26, 2008

Yes Man

** ( 2 STARS)

$18.3

million

$18.3 million

1 week

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 104 minutes

What it's about: All the grooviness that descends on a negative guy (Jim Carrey, above) when he makes a covenant with a self-help guru (Terence Stamp) to say "Yes!" to everything in life.

Our take: Most of the good vibrations come from Zooey Deschanel, who plays a free-spirited club singer; she's the rare performer who can bring verve and body to eccentricity.

Seven Pounds

* ( 1 STAR)

$14.9

million

$14.9 million

1 week

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 118 minutes

What it's about: Will Smith (above) plays some kind of renegade IRS agent struggling for spiritual redemption handing strangers financial breaks - and some bigger breaks, too.

Our take: Making a movie that's meant to be a stretch, Smith actually contracts; he can't express anything more extreme or unique here than anguished virtue.

The Tale of Despereaux

* ( 1 STAR)

$10.1

million

$10.1 million

1 week

Rated: G

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: A big-eared mouse, a rat and a servant girl endure various adventures in a kingdom where, until recently, nothing was more important than drinking soup.

Our take: The three separate stories, none of which are particularly engaging, have nothing to do with one another, making the film a disjointed mess that will leave both kids and adults squirming.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

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

$9.9

million

$48.4 million

2 weeks

Rated: PG-13

Running time: 103 minutes

What it's about: Klaatu (Keanu Reeves, above), an alien in human form, and Gort, his giant bioengineered protector, hope to avert ecological catastrophe when they land in New York's Central Park. They want to save Earth, because it's one of the few orbs capable of supporting complex life.

Our take: For a while, this movie also seems capable of supporting complex life. Then the energy runs out.

Four Christmases

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

$7.7

million

$101.1 million

4 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 boorish self, but Reese Witherspoon (above) explores her lighter side to great effect as the other half.

Twilight

** ( 2 STARS)

$5.2

million

$158.4 million

5 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 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.

Bolt

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

$4.1

million

$94.9 million

5 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: 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.

Slumdog Millionaire

**** ( 4 STARS)

$3.1

million

$12 million

6 weeks

Rated: R

Running time: 120 minutes

What it's about: The unlikeliest epic hero ever: a ragamuffin (Dev Patel, above) in Mumbai who becomes a contender on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Our take: Director Danny Boyle outdoes himself with a blend of hair-raising social melodrama, earthy humor and mystic adventure. The result is a Dickensian extravaganza.

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