Movies: In theaters now

Join the fun this holiday season with the IMAX (3D) animated film, Steve Oedekerk’s 'Santa vs. the Snowman. '

O Entertainment

Join the fun this holiday season with the IMAX (3D) animated film, Steve Oedekerk’s "Santa vs. the Snowman. "

movies

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING TODAY

Bolt (PG, 96 min.)

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Join the fun this holiday season with the IMAX (3D) animated film, Steve Oedekerk’s 'Santa vs. the Snowman. '

O Entertainment

Join the fun this holiday season with the IMAX (3D) animated film, Steve Oedekerk’s "Santa vs. the Snowman. "

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13) See review on Page 19.

Ridgeway Four.

Happy-Go-Lucky (R, 118 min.) See review on Page 18.

Ridgeway Four.

Synecdoche, New York (R, 124 min.) See review on Page 20.

Ridgeway Four.

Twilight (PG-13, 122 min.) See review on Page 16.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema 12, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

OPENING WEDNESDAY

Australia (PG-13, 163 min.) Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Down Under.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Four Christmases (PG-13, 82 min.) Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, on holiday.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Transporter 3 (PG-13, 100 min.) Jason Statham, on the run.

Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Santa vs. The Snowman: This IMAX animated holiday feature tells the story of a snowman with issues who becomes Santa's friend; begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 31. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure: Narrated by Liev Schreiber, National Geographic's film takes audiences on a journey into the relatively unexplored world of the "other dinosaurs," those reptiles that lived beneath the water. The film plays through March 6, 2009. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs: Follow researchers and explorers as they piece together the archaeological and genetic clues of Egyptian mummies. The IMAX film plays through Nov. 13, 2009. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 763-IMAX for general information or 320-6362 for reservations.

NOW SHOWING

Appaloosa (R, 116 min.) Ed Harris' second directorial effort (after "Pollock") might be described as a routine Western, except that in the film-going culture of 2008, there's nothing routine about the pleasures of a well-made and entertaining movie about gunfighters, an evil rancher, a piano-playing saloon girl and hostile Apaches in the Old West. Harris (who also co-scripted, from a novel by Robert B. Parker) stars as honorable gunman Virgil Cole, whose longtime, semi-comic "bromance" with faithful sidekick Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) is this character-driven movie's central relationship.

Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (PG, 97 min.) If celebrity purebred Tinkerbell sees this live-action Disney release, there could be a putsch in Paris Hilton's purse: This isn't the heel-biting reboot of "Clueless" one might expect but an almost epic canine consciousness-raising comedy-adventure in which a pampered pooch sheds her designer doggiewear and recovers her ethnic identity -- and her ancient bark -- after a dognapping plot leaves her stranded in Mexico. .

Stage Cinema 12, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Body of Lies (R, 128 min.) Leonardo DiCaprio bleeds and curses and emotes all over the hot Middle Eastern desert, but the movie he inhabits is a cold, clockwork mechanism, constructed with typical efficiency and confidence by director Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Gladiator") and screenwriter William Monahan. DiCaprio is a tough C.I.A. agent; Russell Crowe is his Washington handler, a plump hardliner who issues lethal War on Terror orders over a cell phone while dropping his kids at soccer practice.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Changeling (R, 142 min.) A 1920s Los Angeles true-crime story worthy of James Ellroy is staged with somber exactitude by director Clint Eastwood, with a muted Angelina Jolie -- iconically presented as a red-lipped saint in a cloche hat -- in a role that Joan Crawford would have swallowed whole: Jolie plays a mother who transforms into a protofeminist symbol of righteousness after being branded a typically "emotional" woman by the police, the psychiatric establishment and even the mayor, who all conspire to cover up the disappearance of her young son.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

The Dark Knight (PG-13, 152 min.) A lavishly produced drama about hard moral choices, "The Dark Knight" is "The Godfather" of superhero movies -- or, at least, "The Departed." Director Christopher Nolan's ambitious, superior follow-up to "Batman Begins" makes a grim joke out of the idea that it was inspired by a series of so-called "comic" books. The only laughter in the film is the halting, psychopathic chuckle of the Joker, and our pleasurable reaction to his histrionic, terroristic glee is tempered by our awareness that we are watching the last complete screen performance of the late Heath Ledger.

Bartlett 10.

The Duchess (PG-13, 110 min.) Keira Knightley is Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire and great-great-great-great aunt of Princess Diana, in this tale of Whigs and especially wigs set in the stately manor homes of 18th-century England. Viewers are expected to note the parallels between the Duchess and the late Diana: Like her future niece, the frequently miserable Georgiana apparently was a renowned beauty, an "empress of fashion" and an independent thinker trapped in a loveless marriage of convenience to an ultraimportant and ultrarich stick in the mud (Ralph Fiennes) who preferred another woman (Hayley Atwell).

Ridgeway Four.

Eagle Eye (PG-13, 118 min.) Programming the Star-Spangled Banner to be a trigger for violent "regime change" in the U.S. is a diabolically intriguing notion. Unfortunately, by the time "Eagle Eye" and Francis Scott Key's anthem reach their climax, viewers will have lost interest in this paranoid, Steven Spielberg-produced action-drama, which smothers its promising Big Brother-Is-Watching-You premise beneath blankets of narrative implausibility and incoherent shaky-camera action. .

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

The Express (PG, 130 min.) Rob Brown is Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Family That Preys (PG-13, 111 min.) The fourth feature from writer-director Tyler Perry.

Majestic.

Fireproof (PG, 122 min.) Kirk Cameron is a troubled firefighter in this Christian-themed film.

Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Ghost Town (PG-13, 103 min.) British comic actor Ricky Gervais (the original BBC version of "The Office") stars as a misanthropic dentist whose near-death experience makes him the reluctant ally of a tuxedoed ghost (Greg Kinnear) who doesn't want his Egyptologist widow (Téa Leoni) to become involved with another man.

Bartlett 10.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley (PG-13, 86 min.) A new kid in school (Haley Bennett) must cope with the supernatural.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year (G, 112 min.) Zac Efron and his fellow Wildcats stage a musical.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema 12, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

The House Bunny (PG-13, 98 min.) Anna Faris is a fired Playboy bunny who helps a group of misfit sorority girls find their inner Wonder Woman, or at least their outer Wonderbra.

Bartlett 10.

Kung Fu Panda (PG, 88 min.) From its stylized opening dream sequence to its beautifully rendered if more familiar-looking CGI animal characters, this parable about a dream-chasing panda named Po (voiced by Jack Black) is the most visually stunning cartoon yet from DreamWorks Animation (home of the "Shrek" franchise).

Bartlett 10.

Lakeview Terrace (PG-13, 111 min.) Former "art film" specialist Neil LaBute apparently wanted to get back on the commercial horse after his disastrous remake of "The Wicker Man"; the result is this efficient, button-pushing thriller in which disturbed cop Samuel L. Jackson rolls out the unwelcome wagon for his new neighbors, a mixed-marriage couple played by Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The Longshots (PG, 86 min.) Keke Palmer is an 11-year-old girl on a peewee football team.

Bartlett 10.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG, 89 min.) More computer-animated fun with Alex the lion, Marty the zebra and the rest of the zoo's who.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Max Payne (PG-13, 100 min.) Mark Wahlberg in a video game adaptation.

Majestic, Southaven Cinema.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (PG-13, 112 min.) Like its predecessors (1999's "The Mummy" and 2001's "The Mummy Returns"), this noisy Brendan Fraser fantasy adventure owes more to Indiana Jones than to Boris Karloff, while failing to be a credit to either inspiration. Rob Cohen ("Dragonheart," "The Fast and the Furious") replaces Stephen Sommers as director and Maria Bello replaces Rachel Weisz as Fraser's wife, but the crazy-quilt comic-book formula remains the same, as explorer Rick O'Connell (Fraser) -- now saddled with a grown son who appears to be as old as he is (in fact, actor Luke Ford is barely 12 years younger than Fraser) -- finds himself battling a 2,000-year-old shape-shifting emperor (Jet Li) and his army of living terracotta warriors. Kids should love it.

Bartlett 10.

Nights in Rodanthe (PG-13, 97 min.) Richard Gere and Diane Lane in a romantic drama.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Pride and Glory (R, 125 min.) This efficient if overwrought addition to the evergreen movie tradition of boys in blue behaving very, very badly casts Edward Norton as a brainy detective who discovers his brother-in-law (Colin Farrell) is the head of a rogue corps of corrupt cops. The violence is often brutal, and the F-bombs fall like snowflakes.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Quantum of Solace (PG-13, 107 min.) Opening immediately after the events of 2006's OO7 reboot, "Casino Royale," director Marc Franklin's film reintroduces James Bond (Daniel Craig) as "a cold bastard," driven by "inconsolable rage" as he tries to destroy the multinational crime cartel that caused the death of his girlfriend. The action and globetrotting are almost nonstop; an early rooftop chase is influenced more by the legacy of Bourne than Bond, but a later murder offers a witty if gruesome nod to "Goldfinger" -- and a clever visual metaphor for the idea that dependence on oil could mean the death of the free world. The villain (Mathieu Almaric) is a faux environmentalist seeking to exploit the planet's most precious resources; considering the real-life government and corporate responses to the control of oil and water, the script isn't just pandering to cynics when it broaches the by-now clichéd notion that the good guys and bad guys are two sides of the same distressed coin.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Quarantine (R, 90 min.) The latest faux-documentary "trembly-cam" (thanks, New York Times) horror movie chronicles the increasingly desperate fight for survival of a TV reporter (Jennifer Carpenter) trapped in an apartment building where the rabies-infected residents are turning into homicidal maniacs. Despite the Cronenbergian themes, director John Erick Dowdle's film (a remake of a 2007 Spanish thriller called "[Rec]") is relentless and singleminded: It just wants to scare you, and it succeeds.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Rachel Getting Married (R, 114 min.) It's no coincidence that Anne Hathaway's character, a former junkie and fashion model, arrives at her pregnant sister's wedding "nine months clean," a gestation period that has given birth to -- what? "I'm Shiva the Destroyer, and your harbinger of doom for this evening," she announces, before launching into an awkward and self-centered buzzkill of an alleged "toast" at the wedding rehearsal dinner. For director Jonathan Demme , this ensemble effort, set over a single weekend in a large family home in dysfunction junction, Connecticut, is a return to the serious drama, dark comedy and emotional chaos of his earlier films ("Something Wild," "Married to the Mob").

Studio on the Square.

Righteous Kill (R, 101 min.) It took 40 years, but Robert De Niro finally has made a movie that enables him to utter this line: "Rambo the skateboard pimp was my tenth kill." That snippet of dialogue suggests that this serial-killer thriller with De Niro and Al Pacino as police detectives might be campy fun, but it's not: It's tedious and just plain ugly to look at.

Bartlett 10.

Role Models (R, 99 min.) Reprobate salesmen Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are sentenced to mentor kids in a sort of "Big Brother" program. Directed by David Wain ("Wet Hot American Summer").

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema.

Saw V (R, 95 min.) Despite numerous flashbacks that rewrite the elaborate series backstory, this sequel from debuting director David Hackl is a cut above its distasteful and pretentious predecessors. The storytelling is less muddled than usual, and the graphic set-pieces -- including an opening inspired by Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" -- deliver the gory goods.

Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Southaven Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

The Secret Life of Bees (PG-13, 110 min.) Director Gina Prince-Bythewood's 1960s tale of forgiveness, sisterly solidarity and a child's need for love is set in the South. Boy, is it ever: When widower Paul Bettany wants to punish his 14-year-old daughter (Dakota Fanning), he makes her kneel on a pile of hard, uncooked grits, poured straight from the box. No wonder the girl and her housekeeper (Jennifer Hudson) seek refuge in the almost magically life-affirming household of three cultured and eccentric sisters, played by Sophie Okonedo, Alicia Keys and symbolic queen bee Queen Latifah, who dispenses honeyed words along with the apian nectar produced in her hives.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Sex Drive (R, 109 min.) Director Sean Anders returns raunchy teen comedy to the no-expectations pre-Apatow era, as a virgin (Josh Zuckerman), an unlikely stud (Clark Duke, who resembles a half man-half baby) and the hero's pretty "best friend" (Amanda Crew) experience a series of bizarre and often gross adventures during a road trip from Chicago to Knoxville.

Bartlett 10.

Soul Men (R, 103 min.) A dream cast and a wonderful premise are squandered in this conflicted road comedy, a flawed salute to the legacy of Stax that now, sadly, also represents a tribute to the memory of two of the film's stars, Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes (the movie is dedicated to "Two Real Soul Men"). Mac and Samuel L. Jackson are perfectly cast as a pair of forgotten old soul singers who head to Harlem for a memorial concert honoring their late frontman (John Legend). Unfortunately, the inspirational, PG-13-style themes about reconciliation and forgiveness don't jibe with the film's crude sexual humor, proctology jokes and nonstop profanity; the misbegotten result is a "family film" that's unfit for kids.

Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Southaven Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Traitor (PG-13, 110 min.) Is Don Cheadle a terrorist?

Bartlett 10.

WALL-E (G, 103 min.) WALL-E the robot may be battered and obsolete, but "WALL-E" the movie is a marvel of state-of-the-art technology -- perhaps the most brilliantly designed, beautifully executed and technically accomplished feature yet from Pixar Animation Studios.

Bartlett 10.

The Women (PG-13, 114 min.) In director George Cukor's 1939 adaptation of the Clare Boothe Luce play, gold digger Joan Crawford luxuriates in a tub that appears to have been designed by Aphrodite and Poseidon during ancient Greece's Art Deco phase; in this remake, Eva Mendes bathes in a rectangle that might have been installed by Home Depot. Writer-director Diane English's update lacks wit as well as style; you'll think "TV" rather than "MGM."

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (R, 102 min.) Longtime platonic friends Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks find more than financial salvation when they embark on the title enterprise in this characteristically sweet and crappy (literally, unfortunately) romantic comedy from writer-director Kevin Smith, who probably made this movies just so he could riff on the idea of "Star Whores," a porn spoof of his beloved "Star Wars" franchise. The likable lead actors somehow make the unconvincing premise and occasionally gruesome "frankness" work.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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