Recent releases

The Break-Up, Cars, The Devil Wears Prada

RECENT RELEASES

THE BREAK-UP (PG-13) A must for pop culture fetishists, if only because its romantic leads, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan, reportedly turned into a real-life couple while on the set. The Break-Up also features a premise with promise — modern world economics necessitate Aniston and Vaughan living together in their jointly owned condo even after their relationship implodes. Rumors of some partial nudity from Aniston probably won't hurt ticket sales either. Also stars Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Bateman. (Not Reviewed)

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 Carey 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 DA VINCI CODE (PG-13) For all the controversy and high-profile protests, the worst sin of The Da Vinci Code turns out to be that it's just not worth all the fuss. The real story here is that there's not much of a story. In a nutshell, the movie is boring. The Da Vinci Code is Ron Howard's hugely hyped big screen adaptation of Dan Brown's bestseller about an ancient conspiracy to keep the world from discovering that Jesus was married and had a child whose descendants walk among us today. The movie is ostensibly a thriller, with various characters engaged in a life-or-death struggle to either expose or sustain the cover-up. But there's not much here that's particularly thrilling. Howard's drab and relentlessly talky adaptation moves in fits and starts, bombarding us with exposition when it should be developing characters or manufacturing a bit of suspense. The film never really achieves any significant forward momentum because it's constantly stopping in its tracks to explain itself (often in conjunction with some very clumsy flashbacks). There's just not much to sink your teeth into here, and even a few grisly murders, a self-flagellating monk/assassin, and an engaging performance by Ian McKellen (who turns up at the mid-point of this long, two-and-a-half hour affair) can't turn things around. Stars Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen and Jean Reno. 2 stars

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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