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What's in movie theaters this week

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THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP (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

YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH (R) Tim Roth stars as a 70-year-old Romanian professor who is struck by lightning and awakens to discover himself mysteriously young and with various strange powers that might just help him complete that magnum opus he's been struggling with for decades. As if the parallels between Roth's character and Coppola weren't already painfully obvious, the director lets his story play out with crushing solemnity and at a glacial pace, draining every ounce of fun inherent in the vaguely sci-fi-ish premise. The movie becomes even more problematic during its second half, when the dialogue becomes even more leaden and the focus shifts to Roth's lover, a woman who seems to be the transmigrated soul of a 14th-century Indian. The director seems blissfully unaware of how silly and pompous he's being here, and his unintentionally absurd "think piece" winds up feeling like Mel Brooks' big-screen adaptation of a first-year philosophy student's rambling attempt at a thesis. Definitely one of the most ridiculous films ever made by a great filmmaker. Also stars Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz and Andre Hennicke. 1.5 stars

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