Outtakes

Capsule reviews of recently released movies

UPCOMING RELEASES

FLYBOYS (PG-13) Intrepid young American James Franco and a handful of his fellow countrymen join the beleaguered French flying forces struggling to stave off the Germans during World War I. This is being billed as the first WWI aviation film in over 40 years. Also stars Jean Reno, Martin Henderson and David Ellison. Opens Sept. 22 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

JACKASS: NUMBER 2 (R) More painful, senseless self-mutilation, crude, public displays of base humiliation, spewing and splattering of bodily fluids and other signposts of the impending demise of Western Civilization. That's entertainment, and it's all in a day's work for our hosts, Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera and Steve-O. Opens Sept. 22 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

JET LI'S FEARLESS (PG-13) Directed by Ronny Yu (Bride with White Hair) and choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping (The Matrix, Kill Bill), this Jet Li martial arts vehicle (reportedly his last) arrives with some fairly serious credentials. The film, which has already set box office records in Asia, features Li as a legendary kung fu fighter in turn-of-the-century China. Also stars Masato Harada, Shido Nakamura and Anthony De Longis. Opens Sept. 22 at local theaters. (Not Reviewed)

RECENT RELEASES

ACCEPTED (PG-13) After being rejected by every college on the planet, a group of oddball high school graduates appease their parents by secretly creating a fake university, which conveniently accepts them all as students. Complications, as if you couldn't guess, arise. Stars Justin Long, Blake Lively, Mark Derwin and Columbus Short. (Not Reviewed)

BARNYARD (PG) Can't get enough of those computer-generated animated movies about cute, talking animals? Here's this week's — although the writer-director here is Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura, Kung Pow), which might indicate something's going on just a tad bit more subversive than the norm, if you squint hard enough. Featuring the voices of Courteney Cox, Kevin James and Danny Glover. (Not Reviewed)

THE BLACK DAHLIA (R) A lush homage to all things noir, De Palma's film takes as its springboard James Ellroy's fictionalized account of one of L.A.'s most famous unsolved crimes — the grisly 1947 murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth "Betty" Short — and then proceeds to pump up the darkness to nearly operatic proportions. The Black Dahlia unfolds in an opulently decadent, morally cracked L.A. At the center of the movie is a triangle consisting of the two investigating homicide detectives — a pair of former boxers nicknamed "Fire" and "Ice" (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart) — and the beautiful hooker-turned-homemaker (Scarlett Johansson) who is their mutual object of desire. The movie practically disappears in its own frantic convolutions by the end, but it hardly matters. De Palma is in top form here, with several brilliantly choreographed set pieces establishing the tone, and a monochromatic palette (by master cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond) that's about as close as a color film can get to black-and-white. Stars Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Hilary Swank and Mia Kirshner. 3.5 stars

CARS (G) As animated opuses go, this one doesn't quite scale the heights of the Toy Story movies, Monsters, Inc., The Incredibles or Nemo, but — and of course you knew this was coming — even the least of Pixar's efforts is better than 99 percent of the competition. The story here — of an ambitious, self-centered racecar who learns to slow down and smell the diesel — hits all the right emotional notes, but feels a bit scattered and long-winded in the telling, and there are lengthy stretches where not much of anything seems to be happening. The animation is up to Pixar's exalted standards and then some, but the film's style doesn't leap out at you like the company's other efforts, and the anthropomorphic autos, while readymade for marketing tie-ins, seem a touch or two less endearing and enduring than what we've come to expect from the guys who gave us Toy Story. Pound for pound, there's still some solid family entertainment to be had in Cars, but the movie's nearly two-hour running time may have you checking your watch more than once. Features the voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy and Cheech Marin. 3 stars

CLICK (PG-13) Another cosmic comedy from the creators of Bruce Almighty, that movie where Jim Carrey acquired divine power. Some similar magic is worked here with Adam Sandler, who gets his hands on a remote control that can manipulate the fabric of reality itself. Why wade through those arguments with your significant other, goes the movie's big joke, when you can fast forward straight to the make-up sex? A few major life lessons are certain to be in store at one point or another. Also stars Kate Beckinsale and Christopher Walken. (Not Reviewed)

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

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