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HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY (R) Everybody's favorite White Castle-loving stoners are back, and Guantanmo's got 'em. Stars John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Paula Garces and Rob Corddry. (Not Reviewed)

HORTON HEARS A WHO! (G) Dr. Seuss is in the house again, with a feature-length adaptation of his tale about a very large elephant who gets in trouble when he pledges himself to protect a very tiny group of fellow creatures. Don't look between the lines for political allegories, and you might have a swell time. Featuring the voices of Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Will Arnett, Carol Burnett, Isla Fisher, Amy Poehler, Jaime Pressly and Seth Rogen. (Not Reviewed)

IRON MAN (PG-13) Even if every aspiring blockbuster released over the next few months turns out to be a massive dud, the summer of '08 will be fondly remembered for Iron Man, a credit to popcorn movies everywhere. Marvel Comics' metal-suited superhero is shepherded to the big screen by director Jon Favreau (Elf, Made) and co-writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men), a talented team that supplies a surprisingly smart story that moves briskly while beautifully balancing humor and darker moments. There's also a super cast including Gwyneth Paltrow as pitch-perfect girl Friday Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges as a towering weapons magnate with Daddy Warbuck's cue-ball head — but this is ultimately Robert Downey Jr.'s show, who invests the role of Iron Man's alter ego, playboy wunderkind Tony Stark, with enough charm, pathos and irreverent edge to keep us glued to the screen. Although not as visually poetic as the superhero movies of Bryan Singer (X-Men, Superman Returns) or as existentially engrossing as the darker-than-dark Batman Begins, Iron Man is the real deal — a first-rate comic-book flick as suitable for grown-ups as it is for kids. Also stars Terrence Howard, Shaun Toub and Hilary Swank. 3.5 stars

MARRIED LIFE (PG-13) A curious blend of comedy, noir-mystery, overheated melodrama and one or two other genres that don't normally cozy up to each other, Married Life does a remarkable job of making its disparate elements feel welcome in the same movie. Chris Cooper stars as Harry, a quiet and decent man who plans to kill his loving wife Kay (Patricia Clarkson) because he can't bear the thought of her suffering when he leaves her for a younger woman (Rachel McAdams). Meanwhile, Harry's best friend (Pierce Brosnan) has own designs on his pal's pretty new girlfriend, and that's only the beginning of the twists and monkey wrenches that begin accumulating in this oddly understated little period piece. The movie's delirious romanticism recalls a more stripped-down take on Douglas Sirk, but the main influence here may well be none other than Alfred Hitchcock. Married Life displays oodles of the sort of slyly elegant humor in which Hitch reveled, never resorting to flashiness as it takes its perverse pleasures in the intricacies of its story's crimes. Inertia and a wave of red herrings threaten to take over by the end, but Married Life is still well worth your time. 3.5 stars

REDBELT (R) David Mamet's commercialization continues apace in Redbelt, a movie the writer-director insists is "not a martial arts movie," even though it's firmly entrenched in the immensely popular world of mixed martial arts and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. The movie's almost absurdly noble hero is Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a cash-strapped Jiu-jitsu teacher who ultimately finds himself forced to take part in a phony competition that flies in the face of everything he believes in. Fighter Mike's moment of decision in a fatally compromised world inevitably evokes such morally charged fight-classics as The Set-Up, Body and Soul or even On the Waterfront ­— but the boxing movie Redbelt most resembles, for better or worse, might just be Rocky. Mamet's writing is oddly lazy here, and the world he details atypically black-and-white in a way designed to get us rooting for its heroes and hissing at its villains. The movie's set-up is lean and elegant, but Redbelt gives way all too soon to a rather convoluted and, truth be told, borderline silly downward spiral in which too many overheated events pile up way too quickly and resolve themselves way too neatly. Mamet grounds the movie in a palpable sense of realism — non-actors from the martial arts world pepper the cast, and the messy, grappling style of the on-screen fights is more concerned with authenticity than looking good for the camera — but Redbelt never quite manages to convince. Pitched somewhere between art film and commercial entertainment, Redbelt doesn't really work as either, and there's something a little coy about how both ends get played here. Also stars Tim Allen, Alice Braga, Randy Couture, Ricky Jay, Joe Mantegna, Emily Mortimer, David Paymer, Rebecca Pidgeon and Rodrigo Santoro. 3 stars

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