Outtakes

Capsule reviews of recently released movies

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THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (PG-13) Much like the HBO sit-coms for which its director, David Frankel, is best known (Entourage and Sex and the City), The Devil Wears Prada zips along at a bright, busy clip, is competently crafted, mildly amusing and ultimately disposable. It's surprisingly easy to overlook the lack of substance and originality, however, when you've got Meryl Streep, in one of her most fully realized and thoroughly entertaining performances, holding court at the center of your movie. Technically speaking, our main character is a schlumpy, aspiring journalist named Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) who lucks into a job as assistant to the notorious Miranda Priestly (Streep), the powerful and ultra-sophisticated editor of a fictitious, Vogue-like fashion magazine called Runway. Tastemaker, queen bitch and snob extraordinaire, Streep's Priestly is an icy dragon lady who speaks softly and carries a big thermonuclear device, and every moment she's on screen is something to see. Just about everything else in The Devil Wears Prada, however, is negligible. Doe-eyed Andy transforms from fashion victim to couture-conscious swan and, as her career takes off, her personal life predictably disintegrates. Several bland romantic interests hover at the edges of the story, various minor characters deliver periodic speeches moralizing about Andy's impending loss of integrity, and Stanley Tucci pops up as the obligatory gay co-worker with whom our heroine bonds. Stars Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt and Adrian Grenier. 2.5 stars

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (PG-13) This is the Al Gore Movie in much the same way that Brokeback Mountain was for the longest time the Gay Cowboy Movie. The movie is gussied up with lots of slick visual aids, but it is essentially a filmed lecture delivered by Gore to a polite, well-groomed audience. Gore comes off as authoritative (in his crisp blue blazer) but friendly and approachable (note the lack of tie) — but although the messenger is friendly, the message is anything but. An Inconvenient Truth is designed to scare the hell out of us, and that's just what it does. Gore provides ample but concise evidence of global warming, debunks the phenomenon's would-be debunkers, then gets down-and-dirty with an extended cataloging of the effects of unrestricted fossil fuel burning. Unfortunately, the movie is flawed by periodic interludes that look a lot like campaign ads for Gore's 2008 Presidential run (complete with endless shots of Al as government's last honest man, staring pensively out of doorways and windows, the weight of the world on his broad shoulders). Even more troubling, however, is that after nearly an hour and a half of ecological doom and gloom, we get barely a few minutes of suggestions as to how global warming might be fixed. The "solutions" scroll simultaneously with the closing credits almost as an afterthought, as if the filmmakers hope we won't notice how pathetic it is to believe recycling a few cans is going to stave off the next tsunami. That might just be the scariest thing of all in the scariest disaster film of the summer. 3.5 stars

JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE (PG-13) Hell hath no fury like — well, you know the rest — in this anti-romantic comedy about three high school girls taking revenge on the guy who cheated on all of them. Stars Jesse Metcalfe, Brittany Snow, Ashanti and Jenny McCarthy. (Not Reviewed)

MIAMI VICE (R) About the only thing this movie supposedly has in common with the popular '80s TV show is the name and director Michael Mann. Forget the '80s and those dopey blazers with the rolled-up sleeves — this big screen, R-rated Miami Vice takes place in a gritty, decidedly contemporary Miami with nary a pastel color or stubbly Don Johnston in sight. Bolstering the movie's box office potential are Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in the lead roles. Also stars Gong Li.

MONSTER HOUSE (PG) The night before Halloween, sleuthing middle-schoolers DJ (Mitchell Musso), Chowder (Sam Lerner) and Jenny (Spencer Locke) suspect that the spooky house across the street possesses supernatural powers and a ravenous appetite for trick-or-treaters. Though way too loud and intense for small kids, Monster House at least proves less nightmarish than The Polar Express' attempts at holiday cheer. It also feels like a deliberate throwback to the 1980s' shrill, silly suburban adventures like The Goonies, so take that either as an endorsement or a warning. 2 stars —Curt Holman

OVER THE HEDGE (PG-13) Bruce Willis has his most convincing action hero role in some time, supplying the voice for a wily raccoon on a mission. The raccoon hooks up with a community of woodland creatures, leads them to the promised land of suburbia, introduces them to the glories of junk food, and shows them how to snatch the stuff in a series of daring heists. The catch here is that the raccoon has a hidden agenda — to eventually snag all the food for himself (specifically, for a intimidating bear he owes big time) — but, this being DreamWorks' latest PG-rated animation, the proper life lessons kick in just in time to ensure happy endings all around. Over the Hedge won't change anyone's life — the movie lacks the rafters-raising wit of a Shrek or the emotional richness of Pixar's best stuff — but this is solid, second-tier kiddie fare, and an awful lot of fun. Features the voices of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell and Nick Nolte. 3.5 stars

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