Box Office

December 18, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

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

$24.2

million

$27 million 27,088,786

1 week

Rated : G

Running time : 1:37

What it's about : A hard-working girl (the voice of Anika Noni Rose) with dreams of running a restaurant gets caught up in a voodoo curse.

Our take : It lacks for nothing in setting and atmosphere (New Orleans, mostly in the 1920s, with side trips to bayou country) but comes up short where it counts: the characters.

The Blind Side

*** ( 3 STARS)

$15

million

$149.8 million

4 weeks

Rated : PG-13

Running time : 2:08

What it's about : A well-to-do white family champions - and loves - an inarticulate black student at an evangelical school: Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron, above).

Our take : Without subtlety but with a lot of heart, the movie tells a real-life tall tale and fleshes out the inspiring idea that a young man from a destructive environment can bloom in a caring one.

Invictus

*** ( 3 STARS)

$8.6

million

$8.6 million

1 week

Rated : PG-13

Running time : 2:14

What it's about : In 1995, South African President Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman, above) exhorts his country's rugby team to victory in the World Cup Final.

Our take : With minimal corn and some very good performances, director Clint Eastwood ducks most of the dicey political nuances to concentrate on an efficient, cleverly balanced story of leadership by example.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

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

$15.4

million

$255.3 million

4 weeks

Rated : PG-13

Running time : 2:10

What it's about : Bella (Kristen Stewart, above) is drawn into the world of werewolves after the departure of her vampire love.

Our take : Constrained by the plot of the novel, the film keeps the two lovers apart for quite a spell, robbing the project of the crazy-in-love energy that made "Twilight," the first entry in the series, such a guilty pleasure.

A Christmas Carol

* ( 1 STAR)

$7.7

million

$115.2 million

5 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.

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