Movie Capsules: Now showing

Robert Downey Jr. stars as narcissistic billionaire Tony Stark in 'Iron Man 2.'

Paramount Pictures

Robert Downey Jr. stars as narcissistic billionaire Tony Stark in "Iron Man 2."

Robert Downey Jr. stars as narcissistic billionaire Tony Stark in 'Iron Man 2.'

Paramount Pictures

Robert Downey Jr. stars as narcissistic billionaire Tony Stark in "Iron Man 2."

OPENING TODAY

Harry Brown (R, 103 min) See review.

Studio on the Square.

Kites (Not rated, 130 min.) Hrithik Roshan stars as a rascally Las Vegas dance teacher in this romantic Bollywood musical action-thriller.

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

MacGruber (R, 90 min.) Will Forte's "MacGyver"-esque "Saturday Night Live" hero comes to the screen, supported by Kristen Wiig.

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

Racing Dreams (PG, 96 min.) See review.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Shrek Forever After (PG, 93 min.) See review.

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

Opening Thursday

Sex and the City 2 (R, 146 min.) Carrie & Co. are back.

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

SPECIAL MOVIES

The Alps: Runs through Nov. 12. Tickets $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 are free. Call for show times. alpsfilm.com.

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

Bicycle Film Festival: International bicycle culture and the "urban bike movement" are celebrated in a series of film programs. At 7 p.m. today, shorts from Europe and Cuba will be followed by "Birth of Big Air," an ESPN-sponsored documentary about BMX legend Matt Hoffman, produced by Johnny Knoxville and Spike Jonze. A program of 10 "urban bike shorts" from around the world follows at 9 p.m. At 1 p.m. Saturday, the movie is "Where Are You Go," a feature documentary about the Tour d'Afrique, a 7,000-mile bicycle race from Cairo to Cape Town that passes through the Nubian Desert and alongside Victoria Falls.

Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $8 per program, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org or bicyclefilmfestival.com for a full schedule and information about each film.

Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West: IMAX film follows Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they lead the Corps of Discovery on the first overland expedition into the newly expanded territory of the United States. Through Nov. 12. Tickets: $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3, free. Call for show times.

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

Ordinary People (Not rated, 80 min.) The "Global Lens" series continues with a 2009 Serbian drama about the psychological toll of war in the Balkans, as a young soldier finds himself ordered to execute a group of civilians.

7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $6, or free for Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org or indiememphis.com.

Shirley Adams (Not rated, 94 min.) This 2009 South African drama about a Cape Town mother caring for a son who was paralyzed by a bullet during a gang fight gets its second and final "Global Lens" series screening.

2 p.m. today, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $6, or free for Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org or indiememphis.com.

NOW SHOWING

Alice in Wonderland (PG, 109 min.) Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp.

Bartlett 10.

Avatar (PG-13, 162 min.) Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver.

Bartlett 10.

Babies (PG, 79 min.) French documentarian Thomas Balmes follows four babies in Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco over the course of their first year, from the moment of birth to the hard-won triumph of standing on two feet -- and from generic cuteness to individuality. Beautifully photographed with the fly-on-the-wall perspective of a nature documentary (for most of the film, the four babies are young enough to be indifferent to the camera), the movie contains no narration, very few captions, a few moments of random dialogue, and lots of crying and gurgling; eschewing words, it delivers its message through the images, which tell us that the basic human experience and the emotions that accompany it are much the same around the world, however extreme the environmental and cultural differences.

Ridgeway Four.

The Back-up Plan (PG-13, 98 min.) "I miss my old (butt)," large-with-child Jennifer Lopez comments wistfully in her new movie, calling attention to her most famous asset. "It was kind of like this (butt), but way hotter." Is "(butt)" a metaphor for "career"? J.Lo's recent CD tanked, and her most successful romantic comedies pre-date the Iraq War. This failed bid to put Jenny back on the box-office block (the movie also contemplates the actress' toes and, yes, her cervix) casts Lopez as an artificially inseminated New York pet store owner who becomes pregnant just as she meets the potential man of her dreams, a stylishly unshaven designer of gourmet goat cheeses, played by Alex O'Loughlin. Lopez's on-camera charm compensates for the formula courtship comedy; surprisingly, the film improves once director Alan Poul shifts the emphasis from flirtation to the more dramatic issues of parenthood and commitment. The scene-stealing MVP: Fired "Saturday Night Live" cast member Michaela Wakins, a foul-mouthed Eve Arden for the new millennium.

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

The Book of Eli (R, 118 min.) Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman.

Bartlett 10.

The Bounty Hunter (PG-13, 111 min.) Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Brooklyn's Finest (R, 133 min.) RIchard Gere, Don Cheadle.

Bartlett 10.

City Island (PG-13, 100 min.) An underdog indie crowd-pleaser that aspires to be a word-of-mouth hit in the manner of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," writer-director Raymond De Felitta's nicely observed, old-fashioned comedy-drama chronicles several hectic days in the loud-but-loving life of the Rizzos, an Italian family in one of New York's most underpublicized communities, a small "fishing village" located at the end of Long Island Sound, in the Bronx. Andy Garcia stars as Vince Rizzo, who nurtures secret dreams of being an actor; the other characters all have secrets of their own, including Vince's wife (Julianna Margulies); his college-student stripper daughter (Dominik Garcia-Lorido); and a hunky parolee (Steven Strait). The ethnic screwball atmosphere suggests a Norman Lear television comedy: The movie's "realistic," but not exactly naturalistic.

Ridgeway Four

Clash of the Titans (PG-13, 110 min.) This unremarkable remake of special-effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen's 1981 swan song lacks the campy charm of the original, even if brawny Sam Worthington (surprisingly dull here) is a more convincing slayer of giant scorpions than the earlier movie's Jim Morrison-tressed Harry Hamlin. This time, Perseus (Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), is a sort of musclebound Jesus figure who restores ancient Greece to the good grace of the gods while saving the Greeks from a lethal underwater behemoth, the Kraken (actually a monster from Scandinavian folklore, but remember -- this is "Clash of the Titans," not "Bulfinch's Mythology"). Directed by Louis Leterrier, the movie was shot "flat" but converted to 3D in postproduction, so it lacks the eye-popping effects and immersive feeling of a true "dimensional" film, such as "Avatar"; see it in the standard format rather than paying extra for the fake 3D.

Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D).

The Crazies (R, 101 min.) Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell.

Bartlett 10, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Date Night (PG-13, 88 min.) Tina Fey married to Steve Carell: That's a dream union for moviegoers, who should enjoy watching this onscreen couple's rare romantic evening in the big city turn into a comic nightmare when they are mistaken for blackmailers. Director Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum") tries to smash the fun with an unnecessary over-the-top car chase, but the stars are so likable they keep our interest on track, aided immeasurably by a pricelessly shirtless Mark Wahlberg.

Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, CinePlanet 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Death at a Funeral (R, 93 min.) Provocateur Neil LaBute is the unlikely director of this remake of a British comedy that's less than three years old. The cast includes Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and (returning from the original) Peter Dinklage.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (PG, 93 min.) Jeff Kinney's popular book series becomes a live-action comedy.

Palace Cinema.

Furry Vengeance (PG, 90 min.) Even before well-meaning real-estate developer Brendan Fraser is blasted in the puss with skunk spray, this slapstick environmental fable funded in part by Arab oil money (Imagenation Abu Dhabi is one of the production companies) stinks. Director Roger Kumble's woeful family film sets the bar for computer-generated animal hijinks lower than an otter's belly, yet it somehow manages to be dull as well as dumb, even when a choreographed roomful of woodland creatures "freak out!" to the sound of Chic. Unfortunately, the boogie beavers of this dream sequence arrive too late to rouse an audience already lulled into indifference by slack execution, formula storytelling and unconvincing effects.

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

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Not rated, 152 min.) Eagerly anticipated by fans of the posthumously published "Millennium Trilogy" of murder mysteries by the late Stieg Larsson, this epic-length Swedish whodunit doesn't quite keep its balance as it walks the line between prestige puzzler-with-a-purpose and exploitation thriller. Directed by Niels Arden Oplev, whose handsome visuals split the difference between indie naturalism and Hollywood-style slickness, the film stars Michael Nyqvist as a middle-aged investigative journalist who teams with a punk-rockerish computer hacker with "mental problems" (the title "girl," played by Noomi Rapace) to solve the decades-old disappearance of a blond teenager; as usual in such stories, the family closet disgorges not just skeletons but dead bodies. A lurid, painstakingly rendered episode involving the hacker's sexually abusive probation officer is redundant and suspect, and taints the film; the subplot establishes the heroine as a goth girl not to be messed with, but not before offering audiences a chance to identify with her leering tormenter even as it encourages a lust for revenge.

Ridgeway Four.

How to Train Your Dragon (PG, 98 min.) Directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (who previously collaborated on "Lilo & Stitch") deliver DreamWorks Animation's best feature film yet, a charming and sincere revamp of "Androcles and the Lion" in which a hapless teen Viking named Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) befriends an injured "Night Fury" dragon and helps his village end its ruinous, age-old battle with the flying, fire-breathing and misunderstood monsters that share the Norse seacoast. The dragon designs are wonderful, the action is exciting and the anti-warmongering message is timely and persuasive.

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, CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Iron Man 2 (PG-13, 125 min.) Even in a summer blockbuster in which metal-mouthed Mickey Rourke slices race cars in half with crackling lightning-bolt bullwhips and backflipping Scarlett Johansson dons skintight black leather to smack security guards into submission, wry Robert Downey Jr. remains returning director Jon Favreau's most sure-fire "special effect." As narcissistic billionaire Tony Stark, the alter ego of the title Marvel Comics hero, Downey -- mouthing the multiple bon mots supplied by screenwriter Justin Theroux ("Tropic Thunder") -- is a delight, as is Gwyneth Paltrow as unacknowledged love interest Pepper Potts and scenery-chomping Sam Rockwell as a smarmy rival arms manufacturer. Enjoyable if overstuffed (the fanboy in me enjoys the presence of Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, but he's unnecessary), the movie lacks the focus of its predecessor; more objectionably, it fails to resolve the fascist implications of Stark's claim to have "privatized world peace," which is greeted with understandable apprehension by a supposed fool of a U.S. senator (Gary Shandling). The politician has a point: As presented here, the human and machine sides of Iron Man essentially correlate to Klaatu and Gort in 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," the alien duo that demanded the world accept the presence of a robotic peacekeeping force, or else.

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.

Just Wright (PG, 101 min.) This efficient starring vehicle for Queen Latifah should provide a great deal of temporary comfort and vicarious pleasure to moviegoers eager to embrace the idea that a 35-year-old, plus-sized, physical-therapist "homegirl" can capture the heart of a millionaire NBA All-Star. It helps the plot as well as the romantic fantasy that the two-time MVP (played by the actor/rapper known as Common) is a "perfect gentleman" who plays jazz piano, listens to Joni Mitchell and refuses to lend his name to a children's charity unless he gets to spend time with the kids. Director Sanaa Hamri deserves credit for making us care about the entirely predictable proceedings, and for bringing a pair of rare specimens to the screen: The characters played by Latifah and Common are entirely likable, honorable and decent.

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.

Kick-Ass (R, 118 min.) An adorable moppet in a makeshift crimefighter's costume, "Hit Girl" (11-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz) flips like an Olympic superstar, curses like a sailor, kills like a maniac and ignites yet another useful if irresolvable debate on the limits of screen violence, the desensitization of the culture and the wisdom of exploiting children for entertainment. Yet there's no doubt about it: Hit Girl is a kick, and Moretz is an instant child star -- Shirley Temple for the Grand Theft Auto generation. Adapted from the self-conscious comic-book series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. about "normal" people who long to be Marvel-ous, director Matthew Vaughn's jokey film is marred by its sub-Tarantino flourishes (Hit Girl's first rampage is accompanied by the "Banana Splits" theme song); but the story is gripping, as a skinny teen dork (Aaron Johnson) who dons a wet suit to become a hero named "Kick-Ass" finds himself part of a suddenly comic-booky world where even McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) can become a supervillain named Red Mist.

Palace Cinema.

The Last Song (PG, 107 min.) Miley Cyrus stars as a rebellious teen in a romantic drama, adapted from a best-seller by Nicholas Sparks.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, CinePlanet 16.

Letters to God (PG, 114 min.) This made-in-Florida debut release from "faith-based" Possibility Pictures is a sometimes awkward blend of sentimental family drama, cancer education and Christian proselytizing, targeted at the audience that turned 2008's "Fireproof" with Kirk Cameron into a surprise $33 million box-office hit. Tanner Maguire stars as an 8-year-old boy with cancer whose prayer letters to God ("It's like texting your best friend," he declares) are intercepted by an alcoholic postman (Jeffrey S.S. Johnson) in need of redemption. Inspired by a true story, director David Nixon's movie is most successful in the instructive moments when it deals with the day-to-day challenges facing the boy, at home and at school. ("He has cancer, not cooties!" a friend asserts, when classmates shun the boy.) Less useful for some viewers will be the scene in which the boy faces down a school bully with this instruction: "Pray and open your heart to Jesus."

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Letters to Juliet (PG, 93 min.) Will Amanda Seyfried find romance in Italy?

Ridgeway Four, 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.

The Losers (PG-13, 98 min.) A violent DC/Vertigo comic-book series inspired this tongue-in-cheek "Dirty Half-Dozen" about a double-crossed gang of covert Special Forces soldiers who seek vengeance on their betrayer (a scenery-chomping Jason Patric). Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the team leader; Zoe Saldana is a mysterious operative with a hidden agenda. The agreeably loose vibe is sabotaged by the hackneyed action direction (whip pans, freeze frames, shock cuts, yawn), the indigestible tonal shifts (a helicopter-load of children is blown up in the opening minutes), and the clichéd ironic/hip pop-culture references (Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," yet again). Directed by Sylvain White ("Stomp the Yard").

Majestic, Palace Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (R, 96 min.) The idea that repressed or concealed knowledge of child abuse can emerge years later to traumatize victims and family members has never had more currency (just ask the Catholic Church), but director Samuel Bayer's slack remake of Wes Craven's influential 1984 horror movie about a supernatural, scar-faced molester named Freddy Krueger fails to be either persuasive or scary. Jackie Earle Haley seems an ideal choice to inherit the ratty striped sweater and knife-fingered gloves of Robert Englund, but the witless script gives Freddy nothing interesting to do, and his teenage victims seem all too aware that the "nightmares" they inhabit will soon be in the DVD cut-out bin at Wal-Mart. Not worth waking up for.

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

One Came Home (Not rated, 90 min.) A young New Yorker (Corey Parker) claiming friendship with a dead soldier visits a Mississippi household of grieving women ("widow" Hailey Giles, "sister" Savannah Bearden and "mom" Julia "Cookie" Ewing) in this debut feature film from director Willy Bearden, known for his "Memphis Memoirs" series of documentaries. Scripted by Bearden and David Tankersley, and shot mainly at the 19th-century Davies Manor Plantation in Bartlett, this postwar period piece is more ambitious in the professionalism of its production and performances than the typical locally produced independent feature, and it's buoyed by a sensibility as authentically Southern as the buzz of cicadas on the soundtrack. Unfortunately, the politeness of the staging ("The people down here -- are they always so nice?" asks the befuddled New York) telegraphs that the sexual tension and criminal scheming of the story's set-up will lead to an inspirational, Hallmark Channel resolution. Photographed by Ryan Parker.

Studio on the Square.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (PG, 120 min.) Logan Lerman.

Bartlett 10.

Repo Men (R, 111 min.) Jude Law, Forest Whitaker.

Bartlett 10.

Robin Hood (PG-13, 131 min.) If the twinkle-eyed heroic archer played by Errol Flynn in 1938 was a New Deal advocate of wealth redistribution, Russell Crowe's dour AWOL soldier is a Robin of the Hood that Tea Partiers can embrace: a rebel against the heavyhanded taxation and centralized-government tyranny of a callow young ruler who is the successor to a once-respected older man who squandered his reputation and the nation's fortune on a protracted Crusade in the Holy Land. Reteaming with Crowe 10 years after "Gladiator," director Ridley Scott delivers an impressive, grittily "realistic" action spectacle that is part 13th-century war epic, part palace conspiracy thriller, part origin story: The film ends just as Robin and his men begin their life as outlaws in Sherwood Forest. Judging from what's here, a sequel is more likely to evoke the paranoia of the modern militia movement than the prankish lawlessness of the traditional "Merry Men." With Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian, who illustrates the point that the proud owner of 5,000 acres can be oppressed, too.

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

Shutter Island (R, 138 min.) Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Spy Next Door (PG, 92 min.) Stunt doubles and special effects provide much support for the 55-year-old Jackie Chan in this lame family action-comedy, summed up by its tagline: "Spying is easy, babysitting is hard." Director Brian Levant ("The Flintstones,' "Beethoven") conjures an utterly generic scenario, set in a sitcom suburbia where the undercover Chan is neighbor to the expected single MILF with three kids (sulky teen girl, computer-proficient wiseacre young boy, cutie-pie moppet). You can smell the demographic-chasing desperation: Chan's CIA colleagues are played by George Lopez and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Bartlett 10.

Tooth Fairy (PG, 102 min.) Director Michael Lembeck's self-consciously "cute" high-concept kids' comedy casts The Rock as a conceited, musclebound pro hockey player sentenced to serve time as a winged tooth fairy as punishment for telling kids not to believe in magic. The presence of such hip guest stars as Billy Crystal and gangly Ricky Gervais foil Stephen Merchant can't camouflage the film's formula insipidness, its avaricious product placement or the cynicism of its rote, lip-service tributes to the wonders of "imagination."

Bartlett 10.

Why Did I Get Married Too? (PG-13, 121 min.) Janet Jackson in Tyler Perry's latest.

Majestic, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20.

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