Movie Capsules: Now showing

Big-screen family holiday fare, 'Santa vs. The Snowman,' at the Pink Palace IMAX Theater through Dec. 31.

Big-screen family holiday fare, "Santa vs. The Snowman," at the Pink Palace IMAX Theater through Dec. 31.

Capsule descriptions by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING TODAY

Fair Game (PG-13, 108 min.) See review on Page 16.

Ridgeway Four.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (R, 147 min.) See review on Page 15.

Ridgeway Four.

Guzaarish (Not rated, 135 min.) A Hindi-language Bollywood film about a paraplegic modern-day magician (Hrithik Rosan) who falls for his nurse (former Miss World Aishwarya Rai).

Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (PG-13, 146 min.) Review appeared in Thursday's M section; find it at GoMemphis.com.

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 Next Three Days (PG-13, 122 min.) Russell Crowe's life turns upside-down when wife Elizabeth Banks is convicted of murder. Directed by Oscar-winner Paul Haggis ("Crash").

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

OPENING WEDNESDAY

Burlesque (PG-13, 100 min.) Cher and Christina Aguilera sparkle and sing.

Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Faster (R, 98 min.) The Rock returns to action.

Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Love & Other Drugs (R, 112 min.) Can self-centered pharmaceutical salesman Jake Gyllenhaal find happiness with willful Anne Hathaway?

Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Tangled (PG, 101 min.) A Disney computer-animated take on the story of Rapunzel.

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

SPECIAL MOVIES

Dolphins and Whales: Tribes of the Ocean: A new adventure from Jean-Michel Cousteau, narrated by Daryl Hannah. IMAX film runs through March 4. Tickets $8, $7.25 senior citizens, $6.25 children ages 3-12; children under 3 free.

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

I Am Not a War Photographer: A Film Series by Lynne Sachs: The Memphis-born filmmaker introduces, screens and discusses two of her works, "Which Way Is East: Notebooks from Vietnam," an impressionistic travel diary of Ho Chi Minh City, and "The Last Happy Day," an experimental documentary portrait of Sachs' cousin, a Hungarian Jew who fled the Nazis and later authored "Winnie Ille Pu," the best-selling Latin translation of "Winnie-the-Pooh."

4:30 p.m. Saturday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $8, or $6 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.

Santa vs. The Snowman: This heart-warming, animated holiday IMAX film is a family favorite. Runs through Dec. 31.

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

NOW SHOWING

Devil (PG-13, 80 min.)

Majestic.

Due Date (R, 95 min.) Todd Phillips, the director of "The Hangover," sets Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis loose on a wacky road trip.

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

For Colored Girls (R, 134 min.) Tyler Perry leaves Madea behind but continues to costume his characters in the drag of histrionic melodrama and hysteric cliché in this earnest but muddled attempt at fashioning a film to be both a popular success and an important work of art. The truncated title sounds a warning: The movie is adapted from Ntozake Shange's acclaimed 1975 stage play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," a key text of black feminist identity in which nameless women enact folk-poetic monologues about rape, abortion, domestic violence and other issues. To meet the challenge of this material, Perry adds multiple no-account male characters and constructs elaborate soap-operatic connecting stories; the movie ends with an empowering group hug, but it takes date rape, STD's, a "down-low" husband, teen pregnancy, girlfriend-beating, exorcism and even baby defenestration to get there. The ensemble cast elevates the new material, and the actresses -- including Janet Jackson as a fashion editor, Thandie Newton as a sexually promiscuous bartender, Kerry Washington as a social worker and an Oscar-worthy Kimberly Elise, to name a few -- mostly nail Shange's monologues, many of which are delivered in single-take close-ups. Almost in spite of itself, the movie accumulates a certain power and dignity; Perry doesn't disprove the notion that the original play is essentially unfilmable, but he does remind us that almost nobody else is making quality movies that speak directly to African-American women.

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

Grown Ups (PG-13, 102 min.) Back-in-the-day school buddies Adam Sandler (a successful Hollywood agent), Kevin James (unemployed family man), Chris Rock (house husband), David Spade (carefree bachelor) and Rob Schneider (weirdo) reunite for a weekend at a lake and rediscover the simple joys of rope-swinging, stone-skipping and friendship, or something like that. The expected middle-aged-boys-will-be-boys antics are amusing, but the shameless sentiment (a cute little girl wants to use the car GPS to locate heaven so she can visit her grieving dad's recently deceased friend, awww) and writer-producer-star Sandler's ego-tripping (not only is Adam married to Salma Hayek, he's a sure shot on the basketball court) interfere with the laughs. Directed by Dennis Dugan ("Happy Gilmore").

Bartlett 10.

Inception (PG-13, 148 min.) Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page.

Bartlett 10.

Jackass 3D (R, 94 min.) Now, THIS is what 3D was made for...

Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D).

Life as We Know It (PG-13, 115 min.) This peculiarly ruthless romantic comedy kills off a perfectly nice set of parents and orphans an adorable infant so that the dead couple's best friends -- a respectable, somewhat uptight baker (Katherine Heigl) and a sloppy, irresponsible womanizer (Josh Duhamel) -- can realize their mutual loathing is just a cover-up for true love after they accept responsibility for the baby, as requested in the couple's unlikely will. The triplets who play the baby are cute, and the film may score some points with new parents, who will recognize the dangers of loaded diapers and the Wiggles; but the blood sacrifice demanded by director Greg Berlanti and the screenwriters seems like a pretty extreme set-up for a couple of hours of sitcom cuteness. And what to make of the terrible title, which is meaningless except that it's arrogantly predicated on the assumption that "we" are attractive white people who live in huge houses and have few economic worries?

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

Lottery Ticket (PG-13, 99 min.) Bow Wow, Ice Cube.

Bartlett 10.

Megamind (PG, 96 min.) It's supervillain Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell) vs. superhero Metro Man (Brad Pitt) in the latest from DreamWorks Animation.

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

Morning Glory (PG-13, 107 min.) Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton are feuding anchors on a morning news show; Rachel McAdams is the program's producer. Opened Wednesday.

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

N-Secure (R, 108 min.) If Tyler Perry had created an erotic thriller for Roger Corman's Concorde-New Horizon Pictures in the 1990s, the result might have been something like this made-in-Memphis independent feature, which almost begs the audience to talk back to the screen as a series of beautiful young women (including Essence Atkins and Denise Boutte) place themselves in jeopardy at the strong hands of a trigger-tempered, ex-Marine control freak (Cordell Moore) who lives in a suburban McMansion, drives a Hummer and even speaks Japanese. Directed by L.A. TV veteran David M. Matthews and financed and co-written by local music promoter Julius Lewis, the film is set within middle- and upper-class black Memphis and unambiguously aimed at African-American moviegoers; the cast includes Tempestt Bledsoe, who accusingly asks her unfaithful boyfriend (Lamman Rucker) "Why is your fly unzipped?" -- a line she never got to utter on "The Cosby Show." The movie won't win any Oscars or even BET Awards, but sympathetic audiences will get a kick out of its N-tertaining plot twists, unabashed dramatics and villainy -- if Moore's mustache were any longer, he might twirl it. Look for cameos by John Calipari and Willie Herenton.

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

Nanny McPhee Returns (PG, 109 min.) Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Other Guys (PG-13, 108 min.) Both homage and raspberry to the "Lethal Weapon"-style buddy-cop action-comedies of years past, the latest collaboration between star Will Ferrell and director/writer Adam McKay is (as usual) a stew of anything-for-a-laugh aggression, surreal plotting and non sequitur characterization. Ferrell plays a college pimp-turned-uptight police "forensics accountant" who is an embarrassment to his tough-guy partner, Mark Wahlberg; together, they stumble onto a corrupt investment scheme masterminded by greedy capitalist Steve Coogan that gives the film an overt if unpersuasive political slant. A bonus: the closing credits song, "Pimps Don't Cry." A big minus: the ugly, ugly cinematography.

Bartlett 10, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Paranormal Activity 2 (R, 89 min.) Are bumps in the night scarier than blades in the gut? Audiences must think so: This prequel to the out-of-nowhere no-budget hit of 2007 earned $42 million on its opening weekend, surpassing the "Friday the 13th" remake to set a new record for horror films. Like its predecessor, this is a contemporary suburban "haunted house" story, ingeniously and economically constructed from supposedly "authentic" handheld home-video and surveillance-camera footage; blinking lights, swinging doors and unexplained off-camera noises provide most of the scares. The movie is effectively creepy, but it leads nowhere.

Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Red (PG-13, 111 min.) Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren in a DC Comics adaptation about old CIA agents forced back into action.

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

Resident Evil: Afterlife (R, 97 min.) .

Bartlett 10.

Saw 3D (R, 90 min.) The seventh "Saw" opens with a man cauterizing the bloody stump of his severed leg against a steaming-hot pipe, followed by a massacre in a department store window in which a bisected young woman's entrails plop onto the floor. This public execution suggests director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI") plans to expand the scope of the series, but no such luck: The film quickly retreats to the usual claustrophic and booby-trapped interiors, where the acting is as lethal as the contraptions. The presence of Sean Patrick Flanery as a "Jigsaw survivor" turned celebrity self-help guru provides some welcome satire of the series' pretentiousness, but the movie -- the bloodiest and most violent episode yet -- mostly offers a series of inventively shocking Chuck Jones-meets-Herschell Gordon Lewis set pieces. More proof that the MPAA's ratings system is useless: If this level of gore doesn't demand an NC-17 designation ("Patently Adult -- Children Are Not Admitted"), what does?

Stage Cinema, Majestic (non-3D), Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Paradiso, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, CinePlanet 16.

Secretariat (PG, 123 min.) The more-or-less true story of a steel-magnolia housewife who follows her heart and defies the odds to build an athletic champion, this inspirational film could be described as "The Blind Side" with a horse (a comparison that works only because of the earlier movie's reductionist presentation of football star Michael Oher). Diane Lane stars as Penny Chenery, who risks her marriage to take over her aging father's farm and transform the stallion, Secretariat, into a Triple Crown winner and probably the greatest racehorse that ever lived; John Malkovich is the horse's flamboyant trainer. Directed by Randall Wallace, this is good old-fashioned entertainment, marred only by the de rigueur motivational pronouncements ("You never know how far you can go unless you run") and the bizarre use of the gospel hit "Oh Happy Day" during the Belmont Stakes, as if the sound of the Edwin Hawkins Singers proclaiming that Jesus has washed their sins away really has much to do with the sight of one horse beating the hooves off several others.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, CinePlanet 16.

Skyline (PG-13, 107 min.) The story's brain-snatching aliens must have attacked the filmmakers before they invaded the rest of Los Angeles: The script is idiotic, the characters annoying, the behavior illogical, the science absurd -- it's like a laughably, enjoyably awful Syfy channel "War of the Worlds"/"District 9"/"Cloverfield" rip-off, with the saving grace of state-of-the-art special effects (the monsters and spaceships are cool). One character alludes to the Rapture, but the idea that this unexplained apocalypse is punishment for civilization's excessive materialism, promiscuity and substance abuse -- sins embraced by the dimwitted show-biz characters introduced during the first half hour -- goes nowhere. Directed by the Brothers Strause ("Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem").

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.

The Social Network (PG-13, 120 min.) Working from Ben Mezrich's nonfiction best-seller, director David Fincher ("Zodiac," "Fight Club") and scripter Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing") have delivered perhaps the best studio film of the year, a "Citizen Kane" for the impatient digital era, with that masterpiece's decades-spanning morality tale of loss, greed, ambition, hubris, betrayal, loneliness and revenge compressed into a few years, and with an ex-girlfriend named Erica instead of a sled named Rosebud functioning as the explanation-that -explains-nothing catalyst for the depredations of a world-changing ego. A typically deadpan-affectless Jesse Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg (now "the world's youngest billionaire"), whose creation of Facebook at Harvard led to riches and lawsuits, including one from his best and apparently only friend (Andrew Garfield). With its pitch-perfect pacing and framing, rapier-sharp conversations and witty performances (Justin Timberlake is superb as reckless, motormouthed Sean Parker, the seductive creator of Napster), this is a riveting, thoroughly entertaining work that functions as an agile college comedy, a gripping legal thriller and a wily creation myth for the global social-network phenomenon of Facebook, a digital Xanadau that -- according to the film -- seems to delight everyone but its master.

Stage Cinema, Collierville Towne 16, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (PG, 109 min) Jay Baruchel, Nicolas Cage.

Bartlett 10.

Step Up 3 (PG-13, 107 min.) Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani.

Bartlett 10 (non 3-D).

Stone (R, 105 min.) A convicted arsonist (Edward Norton) and his sexy wife (Milla Jovovich) manipulate a parole officer (Robert De Niro.)

Ridgeway Four.

Takers (PG-13, 107 min.) Chris Brown, Matt Dillon.

Bartlett 10.

The Town (R, 125 min.) Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Toy Story 3 (G, 109 min.) Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen.

Bartlett 10.

Unstoppable (PG-13, 98 min.) Even the irritations of director Tony Scott's filmmaking -- the high-contrast cinematography, the habitual mini-zooms and camera "readjustments" -- can't derail this fun thriller about two railroad men -- wise veteran engineer Denzel Washington and cocky novice conductor Chris Pine -- who try to stop an unmanned runaway train loaded with toxic chemicals before it delivers a crashload of catastrophe. Scott and screenwriter Mark Bomback make great use of the railway culture and environment -- the train yards, the lingo, the old-fashioned mechanical grinding and chugging -- even as they exploit the most amusingly hoary and reliable of race-against-the-clock disaster-film clichés.

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.

Waiting for 'Superman' (PG, 102 min.) A documentary cry for education reform that explores the role of teachers' unions, charter schools and aspects of education..

Ridgeway Four.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (PG-13, 135 min.) Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf.

Bartlett 10.

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