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THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT (PG-13) If the sequel is typically worse than the original, what hope is there for the third film in a series? In the case of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, none. Though set in a new location, the plot is as predictable as you'd expect. Lucas Black stars as Sean, an American teenager sent to live with his father in Tokyo after participating in one too many illegal street races. There, he crosses paths with the notorious Drift King, or D.K. (played by Brian Tee), and eventually learns the rules of Japanese street racing, aka drifting. The entire picture comes off as little more than an extended hip-hop video, complete with scantily-clad schoolgirls and continuous bursts of rap music. The only high point is a surprise cameo by a cast member from the original Fast and the Furious. Also stars Bow Wow, Sung Kang and Nathalie Kelley. 1.5 stars —Amy Moczynski

GARFIELD: A TAIL OF TWO KITTIES (PG) Although not as annoyingly frenetic as the first Garfield movie, this inevitable sequel is bland, boring kiddie fare that seems churned out by a machine, revolving around a case of mistaken identity loosely based on The Prince and the Pauper. The action this time is set in London, where pampered housecat Garfield (a computer-generated ball of fur voiced by Bill Murray) finds himself caught up in a squabble over a family fortune when it turns out he's a dead ringer for the aristocratic feline who's inherited the estate. Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt are along for the ride again, managing to be both insipid and irritating as the fat feline's human companions, and Billy Connolly turns up as the piece's supercilious villain, doing his best to elevate the role by channeling John Cleese. The movie also features more talking animals than Babe but there's not even a fraction of the wit. Also stars Ian Abercrombie. 1.5 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

KEEPING UP WITH THE STEINS (PG-13) A film that's unlikely to win over even the older, Jewish audience that is its obvious target demographic, Keeping Up With the Steins is a barely palatable mix of sitcom humor and ethnic kitsch. Jeremy Piven and Jamie Gertz star as a couple whose lives are thrown into predictable chaos when Piven's estranged father (Garry Marshall) shows up for his grandson's big bar mitzvah. Some of the film's satiric nudges have potential in a vaguely mean-spirited, early Philip Roth-ish sort of way (cruise ships and Dodger Stadium are among the spots rented out for the ultra-ostentatious bar mitzvahs on display here), but the movie's maudlin tendencies get the best of it early on, and most of what we see here is as bland as it is unfunny. Also stars Daryl Hannah, Daryl Sabara and Richard Benjamin. 2 stars

THE LAKE HOUSE (PG-13) The Lake House is a love-story-with-a-mystic-hook featuring dubious chemistry between its romantic leads, and a writer-director team (Proof scripter David Auburn and Valentin's Alejandro Agresti) who gussy up conventional melodrama with high-minded, vaguely artsy flourishes. With its tale of two people trying to forge a love connection across parallel planes of reality, The Lake House comes off a little like Ghost, albeit a paler shade of that movie, and without even the redeeming kitsch. Keanu Reeves plays a sensitive architect whose destiny appears linked with a woman he's never met (Sandra Bullock) who apparently lives two years ahead of him, in 2006. It seems that the two have, at separate times, rented the same, titular dwelling, and they soon become enthusiastic pen pals courtesy of the house's apparently magical mailbox. The movie slogs along towards its inevitable romantic collision, with director Agresti employing all sorts of corny and/or contrived techniques to show us Reeves and Bullock communicating across time. Movies like this often hinge on some sort of "surprise" ending, and you'll probably have the one featured in The Lake House figured out within the first 20 minutes. Stars Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Dylan Walsh, Shohreh Aghdashhloo and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. 2 stars

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