Short reviews of movies playing throughout the Tampa Bay area

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SHARK TALE (PG) Shark Tale takes the familiar fable of the brave little tailor and sets it in an underwater realm, with Will Smith giving voice to a poor little fish who becomes a celebrity when he's mistaken as a fearless shark slayer. There's also a big, scary-looking shark who just wants to cuddle, and a typical array of uplifting messages about the value of family, tolerance and being true to yourself. The computer-generated animation is as dazzling as we've come to expect in these big-budget CGI projects, but the movie's humor and incessant pop culture references seem to consist largely of leftovers from Shrek. Featuring the voices of Jack Black, James Gandolfini, Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger and Martin Scorsese. 1/2

SHAUN OF THE DEAD (R) Poor Shaun. He's 29, stuck in a dead-end job, has an obnoxious slob for a roommate, his girlfriend's just dumped him, he's hung-over, and everyone around him is turning into rampaging, flesh-munching zombies. Don't be fooled by the buckets of blood and unrepentant gore in Shaun of the Dead; a wittier, funnier horror spoof you're unlikely to find, at least for the film's first 45 minutes or so. The movie loses some steam in its second half, struggling a bit to sustain the energy and the joke, but the cumulative effect might just be the most monstrously funny and splendiferously gross homage to genre flicks since Peter Jackson's Brain-Dead. Stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Dylan Moran and Bill Nighy. 1/2

SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (PG) A large-scale achievement that manages to simultaneously seem retro and futuristic, Sky Captain features cutting-edge technology in the service of a storyline that harkens back to the days of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. While the actors are flesh-and-blood — or, in the case of Angelina Jolie, fleshy-and-bloody-hot — practically everything around them was created on computers by debuting writer-director Kerry Conran and his team. Conran's script is serviceable enough, with heroic aviator Sky Captain (Jude Law) and spunky reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) trying to unravel a mystery whose ingredients include the disappearance of prominent scientists, the destruction of New York City by gigantic robots, and the emergence of a mysterious figure known as Dr. Totenkopf.

—Matt Brunson

TAXI (PG-13) Speed demon cabbie Queen Latifah teams up with bumbling undercover cop Jimmy Fallon in pursuit of sexy female bank robbers in this astonishingly lame remake of Luc Besson's 1999 action comedy. Fallon, who has done some very funny things on Saturday Night Live, seems noticeably uncomfortable in this very badly written role, and barely warrants a single laugh throughout the movie's entire running time. The film lacks the high style and crisp editing associated with a Besson project, the performances are phoned-in, and there's really no story here to speak of, hence very little reason at all to see Taxi. Also stars Jennifer Esposito

TEAM AMERICA:WORLD POLICE (R) South Park bad boys Trey Parker and Matt Stone dish up an all-puppet raunch-fest that more than lives up to its claim of being "the most outrageous movie of the year," complete with copious amounts of puppet gore, puppet sex and virtually non-stop, gleefully foul puppet profanity. Team America also happens to be one of the funniest movies of the year (if you can suspend your more sensitive, politically correct instincts), at least until the energy level begins to flag when some of the jokes start repeating themselves after the first hour or so. Still, the crude, Thunderbirds-style marionette animation (with no attempt to even hide the strings) is a perfect vehicle for Parker and Stone's spoof of big, dumb action movies, the musical numbers are as clever as they are hummable, and the movie has the dubious distinction of featuring what has to be the funniest vomiting scene ever (Monty Python included). 1/2

A TOUCH OF PINK (R) Tired retread of a coming-out tale filtered through a blandly inoffensive romantic comedy stocked with gay and ethnic stereotypes who wear their quirkiness on their sleeves. Alim (Jimi Mistry) is a nice South Asian Muslim boy living in London with his cute English boyfriend. Things go predictably haywire when Alim's mother comes calling with dreams of finding him a proper Muslim girlfriend, prompting an elaborate ruse where pretty much everyone winds up pretending to be something they're not. The script tries hard to charm but mostly succeeds in being cloying or formulaic, with the only real saving grace being an appearance by Kyle MacLachlan as the spirit of Cary Grant. Also stars Kristen Holden-Ried and Suleka Mathew.

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