Movie Capsules: Now showing

Rob Lowe and Tina Fey, right, are shown in a scene from, 'The Invention of Lying.'

Photo by AP Photo/Warner Bros., Sam Urdank

Rob Lowe and Tina Fey, right, are shown in a scene from, "The Invention of Lying."

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

Capitalism: A Love Story (R, 127 min.) Michael Moore vs. the almighty dollar.

Ridgeway Four.

Rob Lowe and Tina Fey, right, are shown in a scene from, 'The Invention of Lying.'

Photo by AP Photo/Warner Bros., Sam Urdank

Rob Lowe and Tina Fey, right, are shown in a scene from, "The Invention of Lying."

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (R, 105 min.) An adaptation of Tucker Max's best-selling collection of politically incorrect sex-and-drinking stories.

Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

The Invention of Lying (PG-13, 105 min.) Star Ricky Gervais co-wrote and co-directed this comedy about the only man who knows how to fib in a world of truth-tellers.

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

Lorna's Silence (R, 105 min.) See review on Page 23.

Ridgeway Four.

Toy Story 1 & 2: 3-D (G, 183 min.) The Pixar classics are back in a special double feature, remastered in 3-D.

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

Whip It (PG-13, 111 min.) See review on Page 18.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Zombieland (R, 88 min.) See review on Page 23.

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


Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk: The latest IMAX documentary follows two environmentalists on a daring rafting ride down the Colorado River. Narrated by Robert Redford; music by Dave Matthews Band. Runs through Nov. 13. 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 320-6362 for tickets and reservations.

Indie Memphis Film Festival: Thursday through Oct. 15. See stories on Page 14 and 17.

Studio on the Square. Visit

Intruder in the Dust (Not rated, 87 min.) Director Clarence Brown's controversial adaptation of William Faulkner's novel of racial injustice returns for a special "60th Anniversary Screening" at the Lyric theater in Oxford, Miss. Star Claude Jarman Jr., now 75, will participate in a question-and- answer session after the film. The screening benefits the Oxford Film Festival.

8 p.m. today; reception at 7 p.m.; screening of short documentary about the making of the film, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $35. Visit or

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

Crew Training International IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 320-6362 for reservations and tickets.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (R, 83 min.) The CinePlanet 16 begins a weekly series of October horror movies with a revival of Tobe Hooper's grisly 1974 masterpiece, which demonstrates that the family that slays together, stays together.

10 p.m. and midnight today and Saturday, CinePlanet 16, U.S. 51 at Tenn. 206, Atoka. Tickets: $9.50, or $25 for a "season pass" to all five horror movies. Visit or call 876-FILM.

Under the Sea: This new IMAX adventure transports you to some of the most exotic and isolated undersea locations on Earth, including South Australia, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Triangle islands of Papua, New Guinea, and Indonesia. Runs through March 5, 2010. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times.

Crew Training International IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 320-6362 for reservations and tickets.


Aliens in the Attic (PG, 86 min.) Kids protect their home from funny-looking outer-space invaders.

Bartlett 10, CinePlanet 16.

All About Steve (PG-13, 99 min.) Sandra Bullock plays an eccentric crossword-puzzler (really) who stalks a CNN cameraman (Bradley Cooper).

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

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (PG, 90 min.) Part Jerry Bruckheimer, part Betty Crocker, this Sony Pictures Animation feature begins as a jokey, slapstick, computer-generated cartoon for kids and expands into a clever and even thrilling disaster-movie spoof that should delight fans of all ages -- it's "Apocalypse Chow," with super-sized extra toppings of everything. Borrowing the title and premise and little else from a 1978 children's picture book by Judi and Ron Barrett, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have a field day imagining the blizzards of ice cream, the tornados of spaghetti and the Vesuvial fountains of nacho cheese cooked up a nerdy young inventor (voiced by Bill Hader) who seeds the clouds with foodstuff; "What if we've bitten off more than we can chew?" someone asks, in a foodie update of the famous warning against meddling in things man was not meant to know that was heard in "The Invisible Man" and almost every other vintage science-fiction film. "Cloudy" could be interpreted as a commentary on the potential perils of genetically engineered "Frankenfood," but it doesn't sweat the message. If it lacks the grandeur of "Wall-E," it's also utterly unpretentious; unlike the Pixar films, it's an unheralded surprise.

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

District 9 (R, 113 min.) This gory, galvanizing science-fiction thriller from producer Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings") and South African novice feature director Neil Blomkamp delivers an unfortunate mixed message through the "alien apartheid" metaphor of its clever but confused premise, as human-sized outer-space crustaceans (disparaged as "prawns") are segregated into crime-ridden slums after their spaceship breaks down over Johannesburg. Presented "documentary" style, like some sort of monster mash-up of "The Office" and "Alien Nation," the movie is technically impressive; also admirable is newcomer Sharlto Copley's tour-de-force performance as a bureaucrat who comes to sympathize with the aliens. But it's troubling that almost all the black African characters in this parable of racism are thugs, gangsters and even cannibals, with none of the dignity of the "prawns"; a young white suburbanite might emerge from a screening thinking that aliens are cool, but, y'know, black folks are really scary.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Fame (PG, 107 min.) An update of the 1980 musical about a New York performing arts high school.

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, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Final Destination (R, 81 min.) Forget such fusty sources as Poe, Stoker and Shelley: this fourth "Final Destination" film demonstrates that the only inspiration needed for a hit horror franchise is one of those cornball "Today Is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life" posters, as yet another clique of attractive teenagers learns that life is just a short circuit, a spilled hair gel or a cracked swimming pool drain cover away from extinguishment. James Cameron and the folks at Pixar may disagree, but this is what 3D was made for: To make audiences scream and duck as Death hurls lethal objects from the screen.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

(500) Days of Summer (PG-13, 95 min.) Hopping about as if at random through the improvised calendar of its title, director Marc Webb's film frequently rings true as it depicts the nice-while-it-lasted relationship between a romantic greeting-card copywriter (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a free spirit named Summer (Zooey Deschanel) who says she doesn't believe in love. As in many recent youth-oriented, self-consciously "indie" movie romances, the nonstop hipper-than-thou pop-culture references become annoying (are there really karaoke bars where you can sing to the Pixies and Lee Hazlewood?); but in this Age of Apatow, a shy and even gentlemanly lead male character is not just a novelty but a relief.

Forest Hill 8.

G-Force (PG, 88 min.) Have you ever wondered what a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced talking-animal movie would be like? Me, neither. But here's the answer: The Disney/Bruckheimer collaboration "G-Force," in which the car chases, explosions, transforming robot battles and "Mission: Impossible" suspense sequences are as intense as in an "adult" movie, except instead of Tom Cruise and Will Smith, the heroes are members of an elite squad of commando guinea pigs and insects, plus one star-nosed mole (nerdily voiced by Nicolas Cage). I would have been happier if the "black" guinea pig (Tracy Morgan) didn't get all the stereotypical comic-relief lines ("Pimp my ride," "That was off the huh-zook"), and if the female guinea pig (Penélope Cruz) wasn't obsessed with romantic mind games. Even so, longtime special effects supervisor-turned-debuting director Hoyt Yeatman has delivered a fairly amusing spoof of James Bond/comic-book superteam conventions. With Memphis' Chris Ellis as "the director of the FBI."

Palace Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (PG-13, 120 min.) The cartoon inspired by the Hasbro "action figures" inspired this chuckleheaded but coherently staged action movie that overcomes the burden of its reported $170-million budget to be surprisingly fun. With its massive sets, lack of "Transformers"-style bathroom humor, comic-book heroes ("Heavy Duty" and "Snake-Eyes," to name two), male and female eye candy (when Rachel Nichols suits up for action, you notice that large breasts have been premolded onto her body armor), ninja duels and scenery-chewing villains (the juiciest is a mad doctor with a horribly burned face), the film harks back to the pulpy spirit of "Doc Savage" adventures and Roger Moore-era James Bond movies. The result is director Stephen Sommers' first likable film since "The Mummy" in 1999.

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

Gamer (R, 95 min.) The latest example of grand mal seizure cinema (thanks, New York Times) from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor mashes "Rollerball," "Death Race" and "The Condemned" into a "futuristic vomitorium" (no thanks, New York Times) of a neoexploitation film in which humans control other humans in mass-scale, multiplayer online gaming environments, with real weapons, real blood and real killing. Like "Crank" and "Crank: High Voltage," the previous Neveldine/Taylor spazz-outs, "Gamer" is an absurdly exaggerated, outlandishly crass and alternately inventive and appalling depiction of a man (Eric Bana) violently fighting to liberate himself from the forces that seek to control him; the theme is intriguing, but the filmmakers -- who began "Crank" with a tape labeled "(Forget) You" and ended the sequel by having Jason Statham give the audience the finger -- again show weird contempt for their fan base, equating it with the leering masturbators and smart-aleck adolescents who are the new film's game players.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic.

Halloween II (R, 101 min.) Brutal and redundant but not without a certain ugly integrity, this gruesome sequel allows director Rob Zombie to continue to explore his idea that murderous maniac Michael Myers is not the near-supernatural bogeyman of the original John Carpenter film but a pathetic and tragically irredeemable product of childhood abuse who suffers from multiple personality disorder: In the film's only interesting twist, Myers is accompanied on his rampages by his childhood self and his dead mother, an angel in white played by Sheri Moon Zombie.

Majestic, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

The Hangover (R, 100 min.) Or: Dude, Where's My Bachelor? Sometimes tasteless, frequently hilarious, this "Superbad" with grown-ups (the dentist played by Ed Helms even resembles an adult "McLovin") chronicles several hours of irresponsible, occasionally criminal male conduct, as three best buds (Helms, Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha) and a tagalong demented future brother-in-law (Zach Galifianakis) road-trip to Vegas for an overnight bachelor party; director Todd Phillips ("Old School") cuts from the pals' Jägermeister toast to the painful morning after in a destroyed hotel suite, where the evidence of debauchery includes a live chicken, a missing tooth, loss of memory, an Elvis jumpsuit, Mike Tyson's Bengal tiger, an unidentified baby and the absence of the bachelor himself. The talented cast and the mystery structure of the plot keep the film fresh and funny; but as the title suggests, you might regret your good time the next day, as you contemplate the at best ambivalent, at worst hostile relationship to women that motivates the narrative.

Bartlett 10.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (PG, 153 min.) As the apparently physically mature "boy wizard" (Daniel Radcliffe) begins his sixth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, there's not a house elf nor comical ghost in sight, and the most impressive magical creature onscreen, a giant spider, is dead. Voldemort's at the gates, so the palette is grim and the mood is somber; but Harry and his best friends, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), remain stalwart and true -- to each other, to the vision of author J.K. Rowling, and to fans' expectations for what has been a truly remarkable movie series. Director David Yates (returning from "The Order of the Phoenix") fumbles what should be the emotionally devastating death of a major character, but he does wonderful work with the cast, including the teenagers (now as interested in "snogging" as Quidditch); Jim Broadbent, as the new potions professor, Horace Slughorn; and the many other British character actors, who intone their lines with the sincere and intense glee of cats sucking a songbird's bones.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

I Can Do Bad All By Myself (PG-13, 113 min. ) Taraji P. Henson ("Hustle & Flow") meets Madea in the fifth film with Tyler Perry as his drag alter ego in four years.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (PG, 94 min.) Sid the Sloth (slurringly voiced by John Leguizamo) and the fanged rat-squirrel known as Scrat (the unluckiest cartoon character since Wile E. Coyote) are as amusing as ever, but this third computer-generated "Ice Age" forsakes action for ancient sitcom-style platitudes about the importance of "the herd" (family) until the characters finally break into a lost world of prehistoric reptiles.

Bartlett 10.

In the Loop (Not rated, 106 min.) This BBC Films production is a relentlessly foul-mouthed political satire about an obscene process: the fabrication of a phony case for war to justify U.S. and British plans to invade the Middle East. Expanded by director Armando Iannucci from his BBC TV series, "The Thick of It," the movie is set almost entirely within maze-like corridors of power on both sides of the Atlantic, where anti-war Theseuses and pro-war Minotaurs in tailored suits and military uniforms use words as weapons. The superbly cast battlers include a fact-averse neocon (David Rasche), a progressive general (James Gandolfini), an ineffectual British minister (Tom Hollander) and a scene-stealing verbal sadist of a communications officer (Peter Capaldi); unfortunately, their vibrant interpretation of the witty, Strangelovian script is let down by the whiskery faux-documentary camerawork.

Forest Hill 8.

The Informant! (R, 108 min.) Matt Damon chubs up to play a heartland company executive-turned-undercover whistleblower in this distinctively odd not-quite-comedy from director Steven Soderbergh, based on the nonfiction book by Kurt Eichenwald about a 1990s investigation into agribusiness price-fixing. The title exclamation mark and the jazzy Marvin Hamlisch score promise a comic lark, but the jaundiced color scheme -- evocative of the corn starch that is the company's prime product -- and Damon's increasingly disturbing calmness and seemingly irrelevant voiceover narration suggest this is a movie about societal as well as personal sickness.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Inglourious Basterds (R, 151 min.) The cameo by Rod Taylor and the references to Yvette Mimieux (the stars of 1960's "The Time Machine") are the tip-offs: This is Quentin Tarantino's celebration of cinema as time machine -- a device that not only can erase the years (where can you see the young and beautiful Marilyn Monroe walk and talk but in a movie?) but, on an imaginative level, can change the past, as in this World War II fantasy in which the tragic flammability of old nitrate film stock provides the spark for what is presented as a righteous, Nazi-exterminating holocaust. (Says supreme cinephile Tarantino: If our film heritage must perish in flames, as has happened so often through the decades, at least yet the fires serve a purpose -- let the movies mean as much to the world as they have meant to me.) Talky and gory, outrageous and exhilarating, and awash in movie references, this "kosher porn" revenge film (to use co-star Eli Roth's term) stars Brad Pitt as the leader of the bloodthirsty title commandos, who adopt "Apache" tactics to not just kill but terrorize Nazis: They use monstrous violence against a Reich that rules with monstrous violence. Is this approach -- by Tarantino and by the "Basterds" -- defensible or merely grotesque? Perhaps anticipating the reaction of some critics, Tarantino has himself (or at least a dummy cast in his likeness) scalped in an early scene; among those with more memorable roles are Diane Kruger as a glamorous German actress; Christoph Waltz as an urbane SS officer and Mélanie Laurent as a cinema owner with a secret.

Studio on the Square.

It Might Get Loud (PG, 97 min.) Director Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth") brings together Led Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page, U2's The Edge and relative young gun Jack White of the White Stripes for an extremely relaxed and unfailingly entertaining "guitar summit" documentary that provides an informal history of rock and roll through the perspectives of its participants. (The vintage clips -- including black-and-white TV footage of the teenaged Page in a skiffle band -- are priceless.) The film's hidden track, so to speak, is the broader history lesson that accompanies its musical timeline, as Page discusses growing up in working-class Epsom, England, and The Edge (real name: David Howell Evans) bemoans the terroristic violence that inspired the 1983 U2 album, War.

Ridgeway Four.

Jennifer's Body (R, 102 min.) Oscar-winning "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody penned this smartypants chiller with Megan Fox as a high-school hottie possessed by a boy-slaying demon after an encounter with a satanic indie-rock band; Amanda Seyfried is the long-suffering and somewhat nerdy best friend who suspects the truth. Tonally inconsistent and perverse, with a forced glibness and pop-culture references that often fall flat (Jennifer's assailants break into a chorus of Tommy Tutone's "Jenny" as they stab her), the movie -- unlike most of its horror peers -- at least errs on the side of ambition and cleverness; its box-office failure suggests that male genre fans don't want to be asked to identify with the victims instead of the menace. Directed by Karyn Kusama ("Girlfight").

Forest Hill 8, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Love Happens (PG-13, 109 min.) Can Seattle florist Jennifer Aniston and self-help guru Aaron Eckhart find love? Probably.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso.

My One and Only (PG-13, 108 min.) The teen memories of famously tan Memphis-born actor George Hamilton provide the unlikely inspiration for this episodic love letter to Hamilton's elegant and apparently indomitable self-styled Southern belle of a mother, played here by Renée Zellweger, whose aging Kewpie doll persona is perfectly suited to the role. The movie focuses on a real-life 1953 experience in which mom packed her two sons (Logan Lerman is 15-year-old George, Mark Rendall is "sensitive" -- i.e., gay -- Robbie) into a baby-blue Cadillac Eldorado convertible for a cross-country husband hunt that failed to turn up a mate but brought young George to Hollywood, validating mother's upbeat motto: "Everything works out for the best -- always." The film will most appeal to those who find solace in such uplift and are cheered by the pretty period detail and the nostalgia-colored view of the past painted by the script by Charlie Peters and the direction of Richard Loncraine (better known for such darker visions as his 1995 Nazi-influenced "Richard III").

Ridgeway Four.

My Sister's Keeper (PG-13, 109 min.) Abigail Breslin stars as a young girl who sues her parents (Cameron Diaz and Jason Patric) for "medical emancipation" so they will stop using her blood, marrow and other body parts as donor material for her older sister (beautifully played by Oscar-worthy Sofia Vassilieva), an angelic, even wise teenager whose life has been a constant struggle with leukemia.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (PG, 105 min.) As Amelia Earhart, Amy Adams adds plenty of welcome "moxie" (and a tight pair of aviator's britches) to an extraordinarily busy but simple-minded scenario that finds security guard-turned- infomercial magnate Ben Stiller traveling to Washington when his New York living-exhibit pals (Owen Wilson as a cowboy, Steve Coogan as a centurion, etc.) are relocated to the Smithsonian, where an evil pharaoh (Hank Azaria) with a Karloffian lisp plans to take over the world .

Bartlett 10.

9 (PG-13, 79 min.) Yet another nightmare postapocalyptic world is imagined with a wealth of technical brilliance and a dearth of thematic originality in this dark, computer-animated man-vs.-machine fable, which will seem redundant to fans of "Matrix" and "Terminator" movies and uninspired to those familiar with director Shane Acker's chief influences, the surreal stop-motion shorts of the Czech Republic's Jan Svankmajer and England's the Quay Brothers. The story follows several "stitchpunks"-- weirdly stylized sentient rag dolls (voiced by Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly and others) -- as they struggle to preserve the last vestiges of humanity: pieces of their inventor's soul, preserved within their cloth-and-copper bodies.

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Orphan (R, 116 min.) Didn't Vera Farmiga learn her lesson in her previous kid-from-hell horror flick, "Joshua"? This time, the woman who may be the world's finest actress plays a melancholic classical pianist who introduces a 9-year-old adopted Russian orphan into her privileged household; the results are alternately predictable and outrageous, as the preternaturally possessed but spooky Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman, in a tour-de-force performance) demonstrates a need for a straitjacket as well as for eyebrow tweezers. Stylishly directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (the weird 2005 "House of Wax"), the film is distinguished by a loony plot twist and by its sympathetic treatment of characters, especially children.

Bartlett 10.

Pandorum (R, 108 min.) Dennis Quaid and crew battle spaceship mutants.

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

A Perfect Getaway (R, 97 min.) A couple (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) on a remote jungle trek in Hawaii learn there's trouble in paradise: a maniac who murders honeymooners is on the loose. David Twohy's modest but twisty B-thriller is elevated by nice character touches, witty writing and its tropical setting. (It's refreshing to see people menaced in the sunshine, for a change.)

Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Proposal (PG-13, 108 min.) A romantic comedy with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

Bartlett 10, Stage Cinema.

Public Enemies (R, 143 min.) More a reverie of romantic banditry and paean to movie love than rat-a-tat-tat gangster yarn, director Michael Mann's dreamlike crime film -- condensed from Bryan Burrough's definitive nonfiction history -- imagines the Depression-era "Golden Age of Bank Robbers" as the final, sputtering flame of American lone-wolf integrity and contrariness, extinguished by a lethal squall of FBI bullets and the windstorm profit margins of modern organized crime. Shot in crisp but sometimes jarring hi-def (images seem captured rather than composed), the violence is intermittent and -- to Mann's credit -- far from cathartic: During the opening jailbreak, when "Public Enemy No. 1" John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) lets a bullet-riddled comrade slip from his grasp, we sense he's still attached to the dead man by some psychic cord that will continue to unravel until the life force of this killer, media darling and folk hero is spent at the end of the movie, beneath the ironic and appropriate glow of a cinema marquee; it's then that we realize Mann's true theme is the inevitability and finality of death.

Bartlett 10.

Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (PG, 96 min.) A Christian-themed film with a TV Land cast: Would you believe Capt. Stubing (Gavin MacLeod) and Benson (Robert Guillaume) are on the big screen?

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Collierville Towne 16.

Sorority Row (R, 101 min.) Coed cutups get cut up in this bloody party-hearty slasher throwback (marred by pretentious faux artsy photography), in which a prank gone wrong summons a vengeful killer in a hooded graduation gown who dispatches the hot but insufferable "crazy bitches" of Theta Pi with a "pimped-out" tire iron. The cast list tells the story: It includes such characters as "Bra-Clad Sister," "Slutty Sister" "Stoned Dude," "Wasted Guy" and (for fans of "The Man Show"?) "Trampoline Sister."

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Surrogates (PG-13, 89 min.) Science-fiction chillers of the past that warned about dehumanization -- "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," for example, or "I Married a Monster from Outer Space" -- posited an outside threat; now, in a 21st-century world of plastic surgery and online avatars, the danger comes from within: the dehumanization is voluntary, as seen in "Gamers" and this graphic-novel adaptation from efficient director Jonathan Mostow ("Terminator 3"). Bruce Willis stars as a police detective in the near future, when most people "live" through attractive robotic "surrogates" that enable them to experience virtual sex and violence from the safety of their homes; the premise is utterly implausible, but the movie is surprisingly sober.

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

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (PG-13, 151 min.) Director Michael Bay's instant megahit sequel to 2007's "Transformers" is tinnitus with pictures. It's like sticking your face inside an electric can opener and your finger in a wall socket -- and those are the good parts. The state-of-the-art rock-'em, sock-'em giant robot mayhem is, as expected, impressive; what's not impressive is the racial stereotyping ("Skids" and "Mudflap" are illiterate Autobots with gold teeth who speak in African-American slang) and the warmongering (with its desert climax, this apologia for the Iraq War -- one evil Decepticon shouts "Jihad!" -- suggests Barack Obama is an appeaser and a coward). The disconnect between the scary hyper-realism of the in-your-face effects and the juvenile, even infantile and cartoonish content of the story and gags (a robot farts out a parachute) is unnerving.

Bartlett 10.

The Ugly Truth (R, 96 min.) If romantic comedies -- or "chick flicks," as they're now rather revealingly labeled -- are aimed at women, why do they always seem to let men off the hook? Director Robert Luketic's predictable if potty-mouthed opposites-attract sitcom of a romcom is yet another film that exploits the particularly heinous fantasy that a woman who puts her faith in a rotten man will be rewarded when she exhumes the heart of gold beneath the lumpen clay of his golem exterior, while the happy-go-lucky male is under no obligation to alter his crude and insulting behavior. Without even trying, he's sure to attract a beautiful and smart professional woman like "control freak" TV producer Katherine Heigl to be his rescuer, especially if he's as ruggedly charming as "über-moron misogynist" talk-show host Gerard Butler.

Bartlett 10.

Up (PG, 102 min.) "Up," up and away -- Pixar, with its 10th feature film in 14 years, again demonstrates it has no intention of losing ground to the competition, which at this point includes not just other animation studios but all of Hollywood. If "Up" (in 3-D at some theaters) doesn't quite soar to the heights of some previous Pixar releases, it nonetheless is unfailingly charming, exciting, inventive and moving. It's kind of weird, too -- a vibrantly colored, highly stylized and literally uplifting tale of house-hoisting helium balloons, talking dogs and prehistoric goony birds that owes as much to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, L. Frank Baum, Frank Capra and even Richard Connell (author of "The Most Dangerous Game") as to Walt Disney. Having already turned a rat and a robot into movie stars, Pixar's artists have no trouble making a surly septuagenarian into an admirable cartoon hero: Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner) is a widower and would-be explorer who's as blocky as the old house he refuses to abandon. When he and a chubby boy scout land on a lost plateau in South America, director Pete Docter's story takes on something of the craziness of the classic Donald Duck adventures created by comic-book artist Carl Barks in the 1940s and '50s.

Bartlett 10.

Whiteout (R, 101 min.) The misleading trailer suggests "Nancy Drew vs. the Thing," but this graphic-novel adaptation is more "CSI: Antarctica" -- a straight if occasionally gruesome murder mystery, boosted by the novelty of its subzero South Pole setting. At least director Dominic Sena has sense enough to include an early scene of Kate Beckinsale in her underwear before smothering his star -- cast as a tough U.S. marshal! -- in parkas and snow pants.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Palace Cinema.

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