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Reviews of new and recent releases

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WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (R) John O'Reilly makes the leap from second banana to top fruit in this appealingly ridiculous comedy from director Jake Kasdan and co-writer Judd Apatow. The movie is basically framed as a spoof of Ray (which was itself an unintentional spoof of the whole musical bio-pic genre), but it's also a Forrest Gump-like trip through time, with O'Reilly's title character morphing from '50s crooner to Dylanesque poet to Brian Wilson-esque acid casualty and recluse. Some gags tend to go on too long and repeat themselves too often, but most of what happens here is unabashedly outrageous and very funny. The cameos alone are worth the price of admission, with Jack White showing up as Elvis, Frankie (Malcolm in the Middle) Muniz turning up as Buddy Holly, Jack Black and Paul Rudd as squabbling Beatles, a whole bunch of faces from Tina Fey's SNL/30 Rock inner circle and Eddie Vedder as himself. Also stars Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wiig and Raymond J. Barry. 3.5 stars

THE WATER HORSE (PG) A charming coming-of-age fantasy filled with local color, The Water Horse is the legend of the Loch Ness monster recast as E.T. in the Scottish countryside during World War II. Wee Angus (Alex Etel), an overly serious lad pining for his departed dad, brings home a magical egg that promptly hatches a mythical beastie resembling a slightly cuter version of the mutant baby from Eraserhead. The creature soon evolves into a playful puppy-like thing with flippers, and boy and beastie bond as battalions of soldiers station themselves around the area, and chaos ensues within the household. The adults with guns predictably freak out as the titular creature eventually grows to terrifying proportions, momentarily transforming the movie into a dark Iron Giant-esque allegory about death and war, but The Water Horse just misses the mark for that sort of substance. Also stars Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin and David Morrissey. 3 stars

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