Outtakes

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THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (PG) Although it gets off to a decidedly slow start, this big-screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis' beloved book turns out to be pretty smashing entertainment. Four heroic young siblings stumble into the film's magical realm of talking animals, evil queens, fauns, gryphons, centaurs, satyrs, Cyclopses and even a stripped-down Kris Kringle. The sheer profusion of fantastical beasties on display is worth the proverbial price of admission. It all culminates, as if you couldn't guess, in a massively proportioned Lord of the Rings-lite battle royale between the forces of good and evil, but hey, you could do a lot worse. Stars Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, James McAvoy and Jim Broadbent. 3.5 stars

THE FAMILY STONE (PG-13) The basic set-up here involves a yuletide reunion with the Stones, a mostly good-natured and open-minded bunch who nevertheless find themselves deeply offended when one of the adult siblings (Dermot Mulroney) brings his painfully uptight fiancée (Sarah Jessica Parker) home to meet the family. Also stars Diane Keaton, Claire Danes, Rachel McAdams and Luke Wilson. 2 stars

FUN WITH DICK AND JANE (PG-13) A sad and pointless remake of the 1977 George Segal/Jane Fonda comedy about nice middle-class folks reduced to robbery when the economy crashes. The original was no great shakes itself, but the 2005 version is a chore to sit through, as well as a terrible waste of two good performers, Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni, neither of whom has ever been less funny (at least in a movie that's nominally a comedy). The first half of the film joylessly details the couple's descent into fiscal hell (culminating in scenes of self-mutilation played for laughs), while the second half features a series of painfully unfunny slapstick robberies and brazenly unsubtle satires of corporate greed. Unpleasant and depressing stuff recast as comedy for America's New Dark Ages. Also stars Alec Baldwin and Jeff Garlin. 1.5 stars

GLORY ROAD (PG) Jerry Bruckheimer Films and Walt Disney Pictures produce a tale of athletic and social advancement about the struggle and triumph of black players breaking into a sport primarily dominated by whites. Glory Road is based on the true story of Coach Don Haskins (played by Josh Lucas of An Unfinished Life), who took the first all-black lineup to the NCAA basketball championship in 1966. Elaborating on the importance of camaraderie among teammates and of loving and respecting a man regardless of his skin color, Glory Road suggests that there are beautiful moments in and outside of discontent, and does so in a way that's far from disappointing. James Gartner directs; also stars Tatyana Ali, Emily Deschanel, Derek Luke and Jon Voight. 3 stars

Adam Capparelli

GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK (PG-13) Ostensibly, actor-turned-director George Clooney's remarkable new film is a more-or-less true account of that pivotal moment in American politics when CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow dared speak out against Joseph McCarthy, the Commie-hunting U.S. Senator who turned paranoia into a national pastime. David Strathairn is an effective presence as Murrow, a 1950's proto-liberal media star (Murrow might just be the Anti-O'Reilly) who spoke his mind and crusaded tirelessly for the truth, brow furrowed earnestly and a burning cigarette permanently wedged between his fingers. Clooney chose to shoot in black and white, a wise decision that lets us know that Good Night and Good Luck is art, too, while blending seamlessly with the extensive archival footage of McCarthy incorporated into the film. Also stars Robert Downey Jr, George Clooney, Ray Wise, Patricia Clarkson and Frank Langella. 3 stars

GRANDMA'S BOY (R) A 35-year-old slacker moves in with a trio of high-spirited female octogenarians in what sounds like it might just be a little too close for comfort to Golden Girls meets Three's Company meets American Pie. Cross your fingers. Stars Allen Covert, Shirley Knight, Shirley Jones and Kevin Nealon. (Not Reviewed)

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (PG-13) The new Potter adventure moves at a brisk clip, re-establishing old characters and introducing new ones while supplying an abundance of those purely fantastic flourishes that fans of the series have come to expect. Director Mike Newell pares away Rowling's gratuitous sub-plots and paces what's left beautifully, segueing from moments of light comedy and budding romance to sequences of unexpected intensity. Stars Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon. 4 stars

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