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THE LAKE HOUSE (PG-13) The Lake House is a love-story-with-a-mystic-hook featuring dubious chemistry between its romantic leads, and a writer-director team (Proof scripter David Auburn and Valentin's Alejandro Agresti) who gussy up conventional melodrama with high-minded, vaguely artsy flourishes. With its tale of two people trying to forge a love connection across parallel planes of reality, The Lake House comes off a little like Ghost, albeit a paler shade of that movie, and without even the redeeming kitsch. Keanu Reeves plays a sensitive architect whose destiny appears linked with a woman he's never met (Sandra Bullock) who apparently lives two years ahead of him, in 2006. It seems that the two have, at separate times, rented the same, titular dwelling, and they soon become enthusiastic pen pals courtesy of the house's apparently magical mailbox. The movie slogs along towards its inevitable romantic collision, with director Agresti employing all sorts of corny and/or contrived techniques to show us Reeves and Bullock communicating across time. Movies like this often hinge on some sort of "surprise" ending, and you'll probably have the one featured in The Lake House figured out within the first 20 minutes. Stars Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Dylan Walsh, Shohreh Aghdashhloo and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. 2 stars

NACHO LIBRE (PG) There are 15, maybe 20 minutes of certifiable solid gold scattered throughout Nacho Libre, a comedy about a masked Mexican wrestler, and the second outing by Napoleon Dynamite director Jared Hess. The rest of the movie is a pretty big disappointment, though, and you can't quite chalk it up to your typical sophomore slump syndrome (although that's part of the problem). Even though putting a bankable star or two in your new movie is a logical next step for a formerly low-budget indie director, the much-anticipated collaboration between Hess and fat 'n' sassy Jack Black is anything but a dream team-up. Napoleon Dynamite worked precisely because of its sprawling, no-name cast and droll, deadpan attitude — an attitude in direct contrast to Black's outsized and aggressively skewed screen persona. Black is more restrained here than usual, but he's still much too much for Hess' oddly inert, minimalist universe. Screenwriter Mike White, who worked wonders with Black and director Richard Linklater by wedding their indie sensibilities to the mainstream in School of Rock, is at a loss to achieve a similar alchemy here; the movie is just too slight to sustain Black's mass, and there's just not enough else going on in Nacho Libre to hold our interest. Stars Jack Black, Hector Jimenez, Ana de la Reguera, Peter Stormare and Lauro Chartrand. 2.5 stars

THE OMEN (R) A numbingly literal remake of the fair-to-middling 1976 horror flick, The Omen is almost as big an embalming job as Gus Van Sant's utterly unnecessary Psycho. Van Sant's slavishness was at least in the service of something worth genuflection, though; this new version of The Omen is like a cult devoted to drywall. The plot here, a hodgepodge of supernatural elements cobbled together to cash in on the momentum generated back in the day by genuinely good films like Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, involves a couple raising a small child they suspect of being the Antichrist. People who get too close to the truth die grisly deaths; there are very few surprises and nothing remotely resembling a character to sink your teeth into (so to speak); and the whole thing is shot through with a pungent whiff of the apocalypse — a scent that never really goes out of fashion but that is more than ever on audience's minds these days (hence the remake). The juiciest bit of casting of all is Rosemary herself, Mia Farrow, who steals the show as the devil-boy's gloriously creepy nanny. If only the movie had the wit to capitalize on Farrow's presence or any of the other elements ripe for play here, The Omen could have been something worth talking about. Stars Liev Schrieber, Julia Stiles, Pete Postlethwaite, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon and Mia Farrow. 2.5 stars

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