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Box Office

January 23, 2009

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

** ( 2 Stars)

$39.2

million

$39.2 million

1 week

Rated: PG

Running time: 87 minutes

What it's about: Kevin James (above) stars as a fat and clueless security guard who takes on goons that have overrun his New Jersey mall.

Our take: Sure, you'll laugh at times. But you'll feel guilty about it later.

Gran Torino

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 Stars)

$25.6

million

$76.6 million

6 weeks

(2 weeks here)

Rated: R

Running time: 116 minutes

What it's about: An emotionally scarred and bitter Korean War veteran (Clint Eastwood, above) becomes the unlikely defender of the Hmong brother and sister (Bee Vang, Abney Her) who live next door.

Our take: Even for those who've been yearning to see Dirty Harry clean his hands, or have been waiting for another big action hero to play Messiah ever since Paul Newman stretched his arms out crucifix-style in Cool Hand Luke, this movie delivers only the second- and third-hand goods.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

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

$24.1

million

$24.1 million

1 week

Rated: R

Running time: 101 minutes

What it's about: An isolated community becomes the target of a killer. He chops his way through young and old while local law enforcement officials show up just in time to crack bad jokes about the victims. The film stars Jensen Ackles (above).

Our take: With first-rate 3-D effect, the gory slasher film not only pays a proper homage to the 1981 original but kicks it up about 1,000 notches.

Notorious

*** ( 3 STARS)

$23.4

million

$23.4 million

1 week

Rated: PG

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: The meteoric career and reckless life of the straight-out-of-Brooklyn rap giant Christopher Wallace - known as Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, the Notorious B.I.G. or just plain Biggie - who was fatally shot at age 24 in 1997.

Our take: scoop : Jamal Woolard (above), who plays Biggie, can make the rapper's evasiveness, as well as his brutal honesty, seem charismatic. He presents a fascinating, deliberately obscure mixture of inventiveness, ambition, hedonism and emotion.

Hotel for Dogs

* 1/2 ( 1 1/2 )

$22.9

million

$22.9 million

1 week

Rated: PG

Running time: 100 minutes

What it's about: Thanks to some fairy dust or something, two kids turn an abandoned hotel into a home for every stray dog in town. Of course, the mean old adults want to close it down.

Our take: Save your money by not seeing Hotel for Dogs and buy a cute-dog calendar; it'll prove a lot more endearing, certainly a lot less cloying.

Bride Wars

* ( 1 STAR)

$13.9

million

$39.7 million

2 weeks

Rated: PG

Running time: 90 minutes

What it's about: The worst comedy idea since Springtime for Hitler, with no room for redeeming camp: Kate Hudson (above) and Anne Hathaway play inseparable friends who declare war when they wind up with the same June wedding day.

Our take: The destructive strokes and counterstrokes are numbingly stupid and demeaning; the whole thing sets off noxious fumes, like a smoky, damp sparkler.

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