Box Office

November 20, 2009

2012

*** ( 3 STARS)

$65.2

million

$65.2 million

1 week

Rated : PG-13

Running time : 2:38

What it's about : Director Roland Emmerich wipes out an entire planet via tsunami, earthquake, volcano and risible dialogue, and John Cusack (above), Amanda Peet and Chiwetel Ejiofor fight, valiantly, for their lives.

Our take : The over-the-top effects are quite enjoyable. At least the first five or six hours of them.

.

A Christmas Carol

* ( 1 STAR)

$22.3

million

$63.2 million

2 weeks

Rated : PG

Running time : 1:36

What it's about : Director Robert Zemeckis reimagines the Dickens classic as a 3-D action-thriller zooming through Victorian London.

Our take : By the time the film finishes piling its many shiny presents with their many bells and whistles under the tree, there's no room left for tears for Tiny Tim. Bah humbug, indeed.

Precious

**** ( 4 STARS)

$5.8

million

$8.6 million

2 weeks

Rated : R

Running time : 1:50

What it's about : An illiterate, abused and obese teenage girl finds just enough hope at an alternative school to begin changing her life.

Our take : With a troika of phenomenal performances from newcomer Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe as Precious (above), Mo'Nique as her vicious mother, and Mariah Carey as a social worker, this is an affecting movie, not "poverty porn."

The Men Who Stare at Goats

*** ( 3 STARS)

$5.8

million

$23 million

2 weeks

Rated : R

Running time : 1:33

What it's about : In the midst of the Iraq War, a veteran of a U.S. military counterculture known as the New Earth Army (George Clooney, above) introduces a reporter (Ewan McGregor) to the exotic tactics of psychic spying and paranormal combat.

Our take : It's a refreshingly unpredictable and fizzy comic fantasy that tickles the fancy even when it strains credibility.

Michael Jackson's This Is It

*** ( 3 STARS)

$5

million

$67.1 million

3 weeks

Rated : PG

Running time : 1:52

What it's about : Produced with the full, watchful approval of the Jackson estate, this flattering assemblage of concert rehearsal footage shows what the King of Pop was working on in the month preceding his death at age 50.

Our take : It's worth seeing for Jackson's riveting, idiosyncratic dance chops.

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