Opening December 21:
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (PG) Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Hilary Duff, Tom Welling, Piper Perabo, Eugene Levy, Carmen Elektra. Sequel to the 2003 comedy hit. This time, Tom and Kate Baker (Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt) take their 12 kids (including Indianapolis native Forrest Landis) on vacation, where they end up competing with the overachieving large family of Jimmy Muraugh (Eugene Levy), Tom's longtime rival. 100 minutes.
Fun with Dick and Jane (PG-13) Jim Carrey, Téa Leoni, Angie Harmon, Jeff Garlin, Alec Baldwin. When upscale married couple Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni find themselves in financial ruin due to the collapse of an Enron-style company, they decide the best way to maintain their quality of life is to become armed robbers. A remake of the 1977 Jane Fonda/George Segal comedy, which was based on the novel by Gerald Gaiser. 85 minutes.
Opening December 23:
Memoirs of a Geisha (PG-13) Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Gong Li. Sumptuous tale of a peasant girl (Ziyi Zhang from House of Flying Daggers) who rises to the top of the geisha class, supported by Michelle Yeoh of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but treated with disdain by Gong Li from Raise the Red Lantern. Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) plays a man who just might be Mr. Right. Based on the popular novel by Arthur Golden and directed by Rob Marshall, whose last film was a little something called Chicago. 136 minutes.
Munich (R) Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Marie-Josee Croze, Geoffrey Rush, Mathieu Kassovitz. Steven Spielberg's examination of the 1972 massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes and its aftermath is a neatly woven political thriller, reminiscent of morally murky spy thrillers of the 1960s and 1970s, but never quite finds the heart Spielberg is looking for. Don't expect Schindler's List-level greatness from this, but do take heart in the fact that Spielberg is stripping himself of the cloying sentiment that weighs down even his best historical films. Just enjoy the tension as Eric Bana leads a hit squad out to kill a group of terrorist masterminds, and marvel at how Spielberg can still stage an incredibly intense, nail-biting scene when the situation calls for it. 164 minutes. - PFPP
The Ringer (PG-13) Johnny Knoxville, W. Earl Brown, Brian Cox, Katherine Heigl, Jed Rees. In order to raise some desperately needed money, Steve Barker (Johnny Knoxville) sets out to (get ready for this) fix the Special Olympics by pretending to be one of the mentally-challenged athletes. Holy shit, this must be a Farrelly brothers (There's Something About Mary) comedy! 100 minutes.
Ushpizin (PG) Shuli Rand, Michal Bat Sheva Rand, Shaul Mizrahi, Ilan Gannai, Avraham Abutbul. In the customarily closed world of ultra-Orthodox Jews, Moshe and Malli, a married couple, are suffering through a financial crisis. They pray for help, but instead of a miracle two suspect strangers with criminal pasts appear on their doorstep. The couple believes their guests were sent to them by God as a test of faith. The film is reportedly the first made by members of the Israeli ultra-Orthodox community. 90 minutes.
Opening christmas day:
The Producers (PG-13) Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman, Will Farrell, Roger Bart. The outrageous 1968 Mel Brooks comedy that became a smash Broadway musical now becomes a high-profile movie musical comedy. A shady Broadway producer (Lane) and his neurotic accountant (Broderick) concoct a scheme to over-finance a huge flop and pocket the excess budget, but matters do not go as expected. 134 minutes.
Rumor Has It (PG-13) Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Ruffalo. A mostly pleasant little romantic comedy with an intriguing premise that starts off fairly well, but quickly loses its way, only to sputter out at the end of its 96 minute run time. Advertisements for the film make it look like one of the juicier comedic offerings of the season, but the finished product is inconsequential. Jennifer Aniston plays an engaged woman who discovers that her grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) was the inspiration for the Mrs. Robinson character in The Graduate. Kevin Costner plays the man who was seduced by Mrs. Robinson. He also bedded her daughter. Uh-oh. The cast is good, especially MacLaine, but the movie is merely amusing. 96 minutes. - EJO
Wolf Creek (R) John Jarrett, Cassandra Magrath, Andy McPhee, Kestie Morassi, Guy Peterson. It was supposed to be the vacation of a lifetime in the Australian Outback for a trio of 20-something backpackers - until they took a wrenching detour into the depths of unrelenting terror. Based on true events. College-aged pals Liz, Kristy and Ben head out for a hike in stunning Wolf Creek National Park to see its mysterious meteor crater. When they return, their car won't start. Trapped in the vast emptiness of the wilderness, all they can do is wait for rescue. As night falls, along comes colorful local bushman Mick and his massive truck, offering a tow to safety. So everything must be fine, right? 98 minutes.
Hellbent (R) Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips. Gay horror movie. Capturing the essence of the Halloween Carnival, Hellbent follows four young men through a night where flamboyant costumes, beautiful people, drugs, music, dancing and sex are everywhere. Unfortunately, so is a slasher that collects human heads. Authentic footage from the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival lets filmgoers experience the most exciting night of the year. 85 minutes. At Key Cinemas Beech Grove for one week only.
Touch the Sound (NR) Fred Frith, Evelyn Glennie. A portrait of Evelyn Glennie, a solo orchestral percussionist who has achieved global acclaim as a virtuoso, despite her deafness. Through the rhythms of Glennie sound is touched - the beat of the universe is felt. Thomas Riedelsheimer takes viewers on an expedition with Scottish percussionist Glennie into the center of the sound world - a journey involving each of our senses. See, feel and embrace the sound. Evelyn's postcards from her journey across the world feed into the creation of music from the interior of one of the most unique perspectives of sound and image on the planet. Life is rhythm. 99 minutes. At Key Cinemas Beech Grove for two weeks only.
Aeon Flux (PG-13) Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Jonny Lee Miller, Pete Postlethwaite, Sophie Okonedo. Deciding if you like this film rendition of the stylish, highly-fetishized MTV animated series really comes down to genre. Do you like beautiful people kicking ass in slow motion and inexplicably skintight costumes in the midst of a utopian future where all is not as it seems? Then you'll probably like Aeon Flux. The very concept leaves you cold? Stay the hell home. The script does a good job at the unenviable task of making the intentionally incoherent series into a reasonable feature film, though it does that at a severe cost to the edgier elements. Aeon Flux was full of creepy relationships and unsettling, gunpoint romances, and that's been defanged here. However, fans of the show will find plenty of Easter eggs, particularly a pitch-perfect replay of the show's infamous fly-in-the-eye opening scene. Plus, Charlize Theron does as well as can be asked in giving life to the inscrutable heroine. - Paul F. P. Pogue
Aliens of the Deep (G) A follow up to James Cameron's IMAX Titanic documentary. Cameron is again ensconced in an underwater exploration vehicle. This time, he and his crew of marine biologists and NASA researchers are taking a look at the ocean floor in order to examine life that thrives without the benefit of the sun. Ploddingly slow at times, the pretty pictures are too few and too far between. - Lisa Gauthier
Bee Season (PG-13) Richard Gere, Juliette Binoche, Kate Bosworth, Max Minghella, Flora Cross. Haunting and lyrical, Bee Season is ostensibly about the route of young Eliza Naumann (Flora Cross) on her way to the national spelling bee, but that shell hides a complex, unsettling and thought-provoking exploration of mysticism and family dysfunction. Strong performances abound: an understated Richard Gere, a desperately unhinged Juliette Binoche and at the center of it all the memorable Cross, who succeeds at being preternaturally mature and 11 years old at the same time. In a frequently silent role, she is a constant and never passive observer of life around her, finally determined to repair the world around her through sheer willpower. Bee Season is about the search to commune with a higher force, and the bonds or lack thereof we share with those around us, the expression of perfection in a world that does not necessarily need to be perfect, and ultimately the sometimes heartbreaking burden of being extraordinary. 113 minutes. - PFPP
Capote (R) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Mark Pellegrino, Amy Ryan. Capote focuses on the years Truman Capote spent writing his greatest book, In Cold Blood, the story of a murdered family in Kansas. Here we get to see the minutiae that made the man Capote a real piece of work. Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote is as big a queen as Elizabeth II without any of the grace. As much of a character, even caricature, as Hoffman is in this movie, he somehow remains believable. Director Bennett Miller keeps scenes intense, slow and detailed, which balances out the large and sudden jumps in time. 98 minutes. - Lisa Gauthier
Chicken Little (G) Zach Braff, Garry Marshall, Joan Cusack, Steve Zahn, Amy Sedaris. Disney's first in-house all-CG animated feature since splitting with Pixar is a let-down. The cartoon about a young chick (Braff), a belief that the sky is falling and an alien invasion has some clever moments, but most of its 81 minutes are terribly, terribly ordinary. Chicken Little strains to appear bright, zippy and irreverent - parts of it are positively frantic - but the result feels more desperate than fun. This is strictly formula fare, with an anemic script filled with stereotypical characters and based on some very tired ideas. 81 minutes. - EJO
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (PG) Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton. Adaptation of the C.S. Lewis classic about four young siblings in World War II England that are magically transported to the land of Narnia, where they become key figures in a battle between good and evil, complete with a Christ figure. The film is surprisingly simple, but generally effective, though it takes forever to get rolling. Honestly, you could easily skip the first 30 minutes and still catch all the good stuff. My guess is that children will enjoy the movie once they squirm their way through that boring early stretch. As for the adults - the acting is fine (standouts include Swinton, Keynes and Henley) and the special effects range from serviceable to positively striking (check out the detail on the lion). Bottom line: Though entertaining, this is perhaps the thinnest spectacle I've ever seen. I wonder, is there such a thing as a minor epic? 140 minutes. - EJO
Derailed (R) Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Melissa George, Vincent Cassel, Robert "The RZA" Diggs. Suspense thriller about a successful ad exec and loyal family man (Owen) who meets an alluring and sexy woman (Aniston) on his morning commute. Flirtation quickly escalates into passion. But this casual fling quickly turns dangerous when a violent criminal pulls them into a dangerous plot. 110 minutes.
The Family Stone (PG-13) Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson. Sprawling holiday-with-the-family dramedy. Keaton and Nelson play the parents of a family of well-to-do New England bohemians. When their eldest son (Mulroney) brings his new straight-laced Manhattanite girlfriend (Parker) home for the holidays, it soon becomes clear that Miss New York Control Freak does not fit in. Clichés abound in this contrived outing, but those (like me) who miss big messy holidays with the family should find this vicarious visit worthwhile. 102 minutes. - EJO
Get Rich Or Die Tryin' (R) Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Joy Bryant, Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, Bill Duke. First there was director Curtis Hanson and Eminem in 8 Mile, now there's Irish director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name Of The Father, In America) with 50 Cent in a film that's more Scarface with a dash of 8 Mile and Hustle and Flow. Jackson's acting range is limited and everybody knows it. Fortunately, he's surrounded by superior talent like Howard and Duke and an excellent director. At least this wasn't directed by a fellow rapper and released straight to video and/or the record store. 134 minutes. - Matthew Socey
Good Night and Good Luck (PG) David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson. Good Night and Good Luck, the second film directed by George Clooney, is about facing up to a bully. The bully in this instance is Joe McCarthy, a political thug on a power trip. The person standing up to the bully is Edward R. Murrow, a highly-respected television reporter for CBS. Don't come to the theater expecting a sprawling, richly textured film like All the President's Men. At just 90 minutes, Good Night and Good Luck is a taut, focused look at one pivotal moment. The film is in black and white and it looks absolutely great. The cast is outstanding, particularly David Strathairn as Murrow. Joe McCarthy appears as himself in perfectly integrated film clips. 90 minutes. - EJO
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (PG-13) Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes. The fourth entry in the Harry Potter film series is an entertaining film on its own, but something of a failure as an adaptation of the fourth novel. The plot concerns Harry's unexpected entry into the Triwizard Tournament, with a face-to-face showdown at last with ultravillain Voldemort (played with slimy panache by Ralph Fiennes). Fans have long wondered how the film would handle cutting the thick, exposition-heavy book into a movie, and the answer is: awkwardly. This Cliff's Notes version of the tale is heavy on the atmosphere and action, but if you haven't read the book, you'll be missing out on at least another hour's worth of backstory that ties it all together. Most of the adult cast members are relegated to the sidelines here, though Michael Gambon's hardass-masquerading-as-hippie rendition of Dumbledore remains the heart of the series. Brendan Gleeson as paranoid professor Mad-Eye Moody runs away with the show and steals every scene he's in. 150 minutes. - Paul Pogue
Just Friends (PG-13) Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris, Christopher Marquette, Chris Klein. Comedy. When Chris, a likable, high school loser, finally gathers the courage to reveal his love to Jamie - the girl of his dreams - she rejects him, saying she just wants to be friends. So, he moves across the country and transforms himself into a selfish, womanizing and successful music executive. Ten years later, circumstances bring him back to his home town and fate reconnects him with Jamie. Can one escape the clutches of the "friend zone"? Is it possible to go from "just friend" to boyfriend? 88 minutes.
King Kong (PG-13) Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell. Peter Jackson's reimagining/homage to the classic tale of beauty and a beast is impressive as hell, to be sure. It's also quite possibly the most self-indulgent movie ever made. The new Kong is slightly over three hours long, with far too many embellishments to the original story. Too much backstory about Ann Darrow (Watts) and various crew members of the adventure-bound ship (the first hour needs serious trimming). Too much about the mutual affection between Ann and Kong (wait until you see them playfully slipping and sliding on a frozen lake). Universal Studios' contract with Jackson mandated that the finished film be no longer than two and a half hours. King Kong would have been a better movie if they had held him to it. That said, Jackson's homage to his childhood favorite is a real corker. I'd add more adjectives, but I don't want to be indulgent. 188 minutes. - EJO
Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon 3D (G) Narrated by Tom Hanks. Hanks' IMAX 3D love letter to the space program has a clear agenda. He aims to create the kind of enthusiasm that was shown for the Apollo program back in the '60s, especially with young people. To that end, Hanks and company have crafted an impressive 40-minute feature centered on a series of walks across the lunar surface. Special effects, the IMAX cameras and a very effective 3D process combine to work magic; the moon walks are strikingly realistic. Throughout the production, imaginatively presented 2D footage covers the history of the Apollo program. The film wraps up with a tantalizing look at the future of space expeditions, including a lunar outpost. 40 minutes. At the IMAX Theater in the State Museum. - EJO
The Passenger (PG) Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Jenny Runacre, Ian Hendry, Steven Berkoff, Charles Mulvehill. Michelangelo Antonio's highly celebrated, long-out-of-circulation 1975 existential drama. Jack Nicholson, at the height of his lean and mean period, plays David Locke, a reporter researching a story in the African desert. Back at his hotel, when he discovers the body of a fellow guest - a man whose general physical type is similar to his own - he impulsively decides to swap identities with the man. His decision leads to a beautiful woman (Schneider) and loads of intrigue as he struggles desperately to outrun himself. Great looking, well-acted production, though the existential posturing gets a bit precious at times. 118 minutes. - EJO
The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience (G) Tom Hanks, Michael Jeter, Chris Coppola, Josh Hutcherson, Peter Scolari. The computer-animated holiday film returns, digitally remastered into 3D. Of the tale of a young boy's magical trip to the North Pole, Entertainment Weekly's Ty Burr says, "The world, it turns out, is divided into two kinds of people: Those who think The Polar Express is an instant Yuletide classic that utilizes groundbreaking computer technologies to create enchanting and timeless visual marvels, and those who think the movie's just creepy as hell." 97 minutes. At the IMAX Theater in the Indiana State Museum.
Pride and Prejudice (PG) Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFayden, Brenda Blethyn, Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone. Delightful new adaptation of the Jane Austin novel geared towards the mall crowd who don't watch Masterpiece Theatre. Five sisters are used as bride bait by their mother and 18th century society. Will they all get married? Will they all be happy? Will their mother sit down and give it a rest? Knightley and MacFayden have nice chemistry together as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, aka The Couple Who Don't Like Each Other. Major kudos to Sutherland as the daughters' father, and he's not playing a villain. 127 minutes. - Matthew Socey
Rent (PG-13) Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel. Yes, they sing. In fact, they sing a lot. This will be the hardest thing to accept for many movie-goers. Rent, the 1996 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, remains intact here, with almost all of the music and dialogue untouched. The cast is amazing, and director Chris Columbus deserves high praise for taking a chance by allowing the musical to remain a musical. 135 minutes. - Lisa Gauthier
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (NR) Sarah Silverman, La'vin Kiyano, Bob Odenkirk, Brian Posehn, Laura Silverman. Comedian Sarah Silverman stars in a concert film intercut with musical numbers and vignettes. Silverman does shock humor, making outrageous statements about various racial and religious groups, as well as the Holocaust, Sept. 11 and rape. She has been compared to Lenny Bruce, which is just sad. Bruce dug deep for his humor, while Silverman sticks to the surface. Her bad-taste-meets-perkiness persona can be funny, sometimes very funny, but her formulaic approach gets tiresome. 72 minutes. - EJO
The Squid and the Whale (R) Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, Halley Feiffer. The Berkman family is coming apart. So what makes this film different from all the other ones about endangered families? The members of this particular Brooklyn family are distinct, colorful - but believable - individuals. Patriarch Bernard (Daniels) is an author, writing teacher and windbag obsessed with himself. Wife Joan (Linney) is just gaining recognition as an up-and-coming writer. She is also quite fond of her tennis instructor (Billy Baldwin). Sixteen-year-old Walt (Eisenberg) tries to pass off Pink Floyd's "Hey You" as his own hit in the school talent show, and 12-year-old Frank (Kline) has just discovered sex. Together, they are sometimes funny and consistently entertaining. 81 minutes. - EJO
Syriana (R) George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Mazhar Munir. Stephen Gagham, who wrote Traffic, is the screenplay writer and director of Syriana, a multilayered geopolitical thriller based on the book by Robert Baer. Critical response to the movie has been rapturous, which you may want to bear in mind when I tell you that I found the movie overcomplicated and emotionally distant. Oh, and glib. There are many interesting moments and a few of the major scenes play out well, but for most of the film, I was too busy trying to remember who was who and how they related with each other to fully experience the movie. Either Syriana is overly dense or I am. 127 minutes. - EJO
Yours, Mine and Ours (PG) Dennis Quaid, Rene Russo, James "Lil'JJ" Lewis, Linda Hunt, Rip Torn, George Lopez. Unfunny remake of the 1968 comedy, both of which were made because of both Cheaper By The Dozen films. Quaid and Russo are high school sweethearts. He's a widower, she's a widow and between them they have 18 kids. Alleged kid-friendly wackiness ensues. What would you expect from the director of both Scooby-Doo films? Kids who liked Cheaper and can't wait for Cheaper 2 will probably like this. Parents, you're on your own. Hopefully Quaid and Russo will appear in a film where they do Big Easy/Thomas Crown Affair things with each other. 90 minutes - Matthew Socey