Movie Capsules: Now showing

A platoon of Marines tries to save the country from an alien invasion in 'Battle Los Angeles,' a movie that serves as something of a military recruitment film as well as a sci-fi-flavored war movie.

Columbia Pictures

A platoon of Marines tries to save the country from an alien invasion in "Battle Los Angeles," a movie that serves as something of a military recruitment film as well as a sci-fi-flavored war movie.

Capsule descriptions by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.

OPENING TODAY

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (PG, 100 min.) Inspired by the Jeff Kinney book series.

Forest Hill 8, 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.

Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin' (Not rated, 90 min.) See review.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square.

My Dog Tulip (Not rated, 83 min.) An animated film about a man's love and respect for his dog, adapted from the acclaimed, anti-cuddly 1956 memoir by J.R. Ackerley (voiced here by Christopher Plummer).

Ridgeway Four.

Sucker Punch (PG-13, 110 min.) Director Zack Snyder ("300") returns, with another sci-fi/comic-book/action mashup.

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.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Basilicata Coast to Coast (Not rated, 105 min.) Part of the Italian Film Festival. See story on Page 14.

7 p.m. Tuesday, University Center Theatre, University of Memphis. Admission: free. Visit italianfilmfests.org.

Grey Gardens (PG, 100 min.) A funny, harrowing documentary masterpiece from 1975, about proud mother-and-daughter ex-socialites living in extravagant squalor in their decaying New York mansion. Co-director Muffie Meyer will attend, and answer questions after the film.

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

Happy Family (Not rated, 90 min.) Part of the Italian Film Festival. See story on Page 14.

7 p.m. Thursday, University Center Theatre, University of Memphis. Admission: free. Visit italianfilmfests.org.

Hubble: Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this new IMAX film explores the legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope and its impact on our understanding of the universe. Runs through Nov. 11. 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.

Legends of Flight: Experience aerial innovation at the dawn of a new era in flight transportation; an insider's view of how a modern aircraft is built. Through Nov. 11. 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.

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind 'Little Women' (Not rated, 84 min.) Aired in 2009 as part of the PBS "American Masters" series, this acclaimed documentary/biopic examines Alcott's life through scholarly interviews and period dramatizations of important episodes in the author's life. University of Memphis English professors Lorinda B. Cohoon and Jeffrey Scraba will lead a post-screening discussion about Alcott's life, work and influence.

1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Fountain View Room, University Center, University of Memphis. Admission: free.

Love's Labour's Lost (Not rated, 175 min.) A filmed version of a recent production of what may be Shakespeare's most sophisticated comedy, shot at London's Globe Theatre. The screening will be introduced by London-based Nick Hutchison, who is producing the upcoming Rhodes College presentation of "Twelfth Night."

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

My Run (Not rated, 110 min.) A documentary about a "modern-day Forrest Gump" who attempts to run 75 marathons in 75 consecutive days.

7 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.

The Response (Not rated, 30 min.) Scripted from transcripts of Guantanamo Bay military tribunals, this short courtroom drama examines the legal and ethical challenges of enemy detention. The film screens as part of the 24th annual Institute on the Profession of Law at Rhodes College. Writer-producer Sig Libowitz and actor Peter Riegert ("Boon" in "Animal House"; "Local Hero"; "The Sopranos") will join educators, lawyers and military officers for a panel discussion after the film.

3:30 p.m. Thursday, Bryan Campus Life Center Ballroom, Rhodes College.

To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America (Not rated, 130 min.) A documentary about the Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist's efforts to reduce poverty through progressive banking. A live-via-satellite panel discussion follows, with Yunus and "financial guru" Suze Orman.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso. Tickets: $10. Visit malco.com.

Who Does She Think She Is? (Not rated, 73 min.) Co-directed by Pamela Tanner Boll (producer of the Oscar-winning "Born into Brothels"), this documentary focuses on five "fierce" women -- an actor, a painter, a sculptor, a printmaker, a ceramicist -- who continue to pursue their art even as they make lives as wives and mothers. A panel discussion follows. Presented by Indie Memphis and the University of Memphis Women and Gender Studies Program.

7 p.m. Saturday, University Center Theatre, University of Memphis. Visit indiememphis.com.

NOW SHOWING

The Adjustment Bureau (PG-13, 99 min.) A typically paranoid Philip K. Dick story about the fragile "fabric of reality" (and the "bottomless nothing" outside man's perception) is repurposed as a reassuring fable about true love's destiny and the rightness of the celestial master plan in this fantasy-romance.

Forest Hill 8, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, DeSoto Cinema 16, Studio on the Square, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Battle Los Angeles (PG-13, 117 min.) Moviegoers are offered the chance to purge their anxieties about a domestic terrorist strike in this old-school war movie in newfangled science-fiction drag, in which "a coordinated attack by an unknown enemy" -- in this case, an invasion from outer space -- knocks the U.S. and much of the Earth to its knees, at least until the few, the proud, the Marines cause the monstrous aliens to see stars, and I'm not talking about Orion's belt. What's it all about, E.T.? Apparently, this is a war for water instead of oil; according to a TV commentator, the aliens "are here for our resources... we are being colonized." But don't expect any references to chickens coming home to roost, or to the book of Galatians ("Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap"). There's no irony in director Jonathan Liebesman's earnest, cornball, military-recruitment-style presentation of doomsday deferred, which benefits from the presence of Aaron Eckhart as a newly retired sergeant who -- to paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in "Airplane!" -- picked the wrong day to give up soldiering.

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, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Beastly (PG-13, 93 min.) Vanessa Hudgens, Alex Pettyfer.

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

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (PG-13, 108 min.) Martin Lawrence, Brandon T. Jackson.

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

Black Swan (R, 108 min.) Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Cedar Rapids (R, 87 min.) This occasionally raunchy yet likable, charming and often very funny film about the coming-of-age of a grown man stars Ed Helms ("The Hangover") as a salesman for Brownstar Insurance in Brown Valley, Wisconsin; his personality is brown, too, until it is colored by the rainbow variety of mixed drinks, skinny-dipping opportunities and other excesses available during a business convention in Iowa, where his new friends include an "Afro-American" (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a vulgar party animal (John C. Reilly) and a married insurance agent (Anne Heche) who is a gentler version of Vera Farmiga in "Up in the Air." The film's sweetness and -- dare we say it? -- innocence will be no surprise to fans of director Miguel Arteta, whose films ("Chuck & Buck," "Youth in Revolt") display a genuine empathy for underdogs and oddballs -- or "dorks," to quote the toast made by Heche's character. The fine script is by Phil Johnston.

Ridgeway Four.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (PG, 115 min.) Ben Barnes, Will Poulter.

Bartlett 10.

The Dilemma (PG-13, 118 min.) Vince Vaughn, Kevin James.

Bartlett 10.

Gnomeo & Juliet (G, 84 min.) If future generations associate the idea of feuding families and forbidden love more closely with Elton John than William Shakespeare, we'll assign the blame to this fairly clever computer-animated feature, which borrows as liberally from "Toy Story" as from the Bard in its depiction of star-crossed romance among ceramic garden gnomes, whose capers are scored to selections from the Elton John-Bernie Taupin songbook.

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

The Grace Card (PG-13, 108 min.) For much of its length, this locally produced, faith-based movie from Memphis optometrist-turned-debuting director David G. Evans is surprisingly tough, confronting potent, distressing issues of social inequity, family dysfunction and personal despair without the overt religious cant and Sunday school perkiness that can make so-called Christian films a trial for skeptics. If it ultimately succumbs to formula, scoring a series of increasingly unlikely plot twists with anthemic contemporary Christian power pop, at least it has the courage of its convictions, and the bravado to suggest solutions to meaningful dilemmas. The plot hinges on a reversal of "The Blind Side" formula, as a loving, well-adjusted black family comes to the rescue of an angry white man who is spiritually if not literally homeless; Michael Joiner plays the racist cop, while Michael Higgenbottom is the cheery African-American "patrolman preacher" who offers a godly answer when Joiner's character asks questions that have kept all of us awake at night: "What is there to believe in? What's the use of any of it?" The movie makes the idea of racial reconciliation easy for white audiences by showcasing a reassuring black protagonist who is not just likable but downright cuddly; and the white wish-fulfillment aspect of an anecdote told by the Louis Gossett Jr. character about a happy group of ex-slaves who forgave white America en masse for its sins is not just a historical whitewash but just plain weird; but even so, the movie deserves credit for plunging headfirst into the racial quagmire. And -- thanks in no small part to the often lovely digital cinematography of John Paul Clark -- it's a remarkably professional-looking production, even with the heavy volunteer participation of Cordova's Calvary Church of the Nazarene, where Evans fueled his artistic ambitions creating Passion Plays.

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

The Green Hornet (PG-13, 119 min.) Seth Rogen, Jay Chou.

Bartlett 10, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Hall Pass (R, 108 min.) Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis.

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

I Am Number Four (PG-13, 110 min.) An alien teen hunk (Alex Pettyfer) with extraordinary powers poses as a typical high-school student and romances an artsy-pretty classmate (Dianna Agron of "Glee"), until the evil "Mogs" (tattooed bald guys with gills flanking their nostrils) and their monstrous attack bat crash the party.

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

Just Go With It (PG-13, 117 min.) Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston?

Stage Cinema, Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, CinePlanet 16.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (G, 105 min.) Bieber fever infects the third dimension.

Stage Cinema (in 3-D), CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D).

The King's Speech (R, 118 min.) Colin Firth is superb as reluctant King George VI in this fact-based, crowd-pleasing, highfalutin buddy picture -- a sort of reverse "Pygmalion" in which a working-class bloke (speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush) helps a stammering royal learn how to speak in public without embarrassing himself -- a necessity, we are told, for a monarch girding his subjects for war with Hitler.

Ridgeway Four, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema.

Limitless (PG-13, 106 min.) A top-secret drug gives Bradley Cooper superhuman abilities.

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, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Lincoln Lawyer (R, 119 min.) Crackerjack plotting and characterization (credit the source novel by Michael Connelly) compensate for tired, even annoying visuals (blame the ADD camerawork and oversaturated color scheme on director Brad Furman) in this entertaining legal thriller, which resembles a very well-executed TV pilot. Matthew McConaughey is made to order for the role of fast-talking, faster-thinking Los Angeles defense attorney Mickey Haller, who must use all his wiles to bring a killer to justice when he discovers he's being manipulated by a clever, sadistic client. With Marisa Tomei as Haller's ex-wife and Ryan Phillippe as a privileged fiend.

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

Little Fockers (PG-13, 98 min.) More Fock for your movie buck, as "male nurse" Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) tries to prove he's worthy of being designated the family patriarch -- "the Godfocker" -- by his judgmental ex-CIA agent father-in-law (Robert De Niro, whose perspetual scowl may be due to the realization that the Focker series may contain his best work of the decade). Directed by Paul Weitz ("American Pie"), the third Focker feature is utterly formulaic but not unfunny, despite an overreliance on the comedy of below-the-belt pain (prostates and erections are particularly abused). Returning cast members include Owen Wilson, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner and (barely) Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman; more amusing are the newcomers, including Jessica Alba, Laura Dern and Harvey Keitel.

Bartlett 10.

Mars Needs Moms (PG, 88 min.) As used here and in the past by producer Robert Zemeckis ("The Polar Express"), the "performance capture" process -- in which actors covered in reflective markers are photographed so their movements and expressions can be translated into computer-generated animation -- seems pointless: Instead of creating distinctive characters, it typically turns actors into inferior simulacra of themselves. The effect of this "realism" is not just creepy but kitschy, and it's especially offputting when shackled to an anti-feminist story in which a young Earth boy ("performed" by Seth Green, voiced by Seth Robert Dusky) discovers that the killjoy female tyrants of Mars have exiled the planet's scruffy, happy-go-lucky males to an underground garbage dump. Noisy and obvious and very un-funny (a chubby sidekick named "Gribble" is especially annoying), the film was directed by Simon Wells, working from a children's book by "Bloom County" creator Berkeley Breathed.

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

Paul (R, 116 min.) "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz" writers/stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost re-team for what could be called a foul-mouthed "Mac and Me": a comedy about a smart-aleck, doobie-smoking E.T. escapee from Area 51 who is rescued by a pair of English geeks touring UFO sites in an RV after their visit to San Diego's Comic-Con. Some bits don't work (a recurring gag involving the colorfully absurd profanity of a lapsed Christian, played by Kristen Wiig, becomes woefully redundant), but the movie is funnier than its mostly lukewarm reviews suggest, thanks in part to plenty of affectionate insider references to "Star Trek" and other genre milestones. Plus, the computer-animated alien himself, named Paul, is not quite the annoying amalgam of Number 5 and Jonah Hill one would expect, even with the overexposed Seth Rogen providing the voice. Directed by Greg Mottola ("Superbad").

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

Rango (PG, 107 min.) Sergio Leone meets "The Shakiest Gun in the West" at "High Noon" on the way to "Chinatown": That's one way to describe this odd and original (for all its references) computer-animated movie about a chameleon who -- credit the filmmakers for their cleverness -- doesn't blend in. Directed by Gore Verbinski (who also alludes here to his "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise), the first full-on "cartoon" created by Industrial Light & Magic is more for adults than kids, as an eccentric, perhaps delusional chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) is bounced from his terrarium into a desert wasteland, where the cowed townspeople (scruffy, even ugly rodents, reptiles and amphibians) accept him -- like Bob Hope and Don Knotts before him -- as a vicious gunfighter, despite his inexperience and ineptitude. John Logan's screenplay begins as a sort of metaphysical quest story in the manner of "El Topo"; eventually, it resolves itself into a talking-animal rewrite of Robert Towne's script for "Chinatown," complete with a greedy John Huston-inspired tortoise who enriches himself by manipulating the water supply. With veteran Coen Brothers cinematographer Roger Deakins as a consultant, the film is consistently visually stunning: The CG haze, dust and shafts of sunlight are convincing and poetic.

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

Red Riding Hood (PG-13, 100 min.) Draped in the blood-hued garment that symbolizes the onset of sexual maturity (hence, her appeal to "wolves"), Amanda Seyfried stars as the title fairy tale heroine, and my, what big eyes she has. The better to see -- what? Like director Catherine Hardwicke's previous features ("Thirteen," "Twilight," and, yes, "The Nativity Story"), this is an extreme coming-of-age story about young people coping with extraordinary circumstances, but the soap opera/murder mystery tone is wobbly and the focus is unclear. The setting is a deliberately artificial, almost Rankin/Bass-esque medieval village named Daggerhorn (the doubly phallocentric name should sound a warning to any maidens), menaced by a murderous werewolf, a priestly witchfinder general (Gary Oldman) and a heritage of hypocrisy; no wonder Seyfried prefers the less creepy threat of her hunky teen wooers, a well-off blacksmith (Max Irons) and a poor woodcutter (Shiloh Fernandez). Despite the dreaminess of this duo, it's unlikely this admirably stylized but emotionally inert film will inspire any "Team Henry" versus "Team Peter" rivalries.

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 Rite (PG-13, 114 min.) Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue.

Bartlett 10, Majestic.

The Roommate (PG-13, 92 min.) Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8, Majestic, DeSoto Cinema 16, Palace Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Somewhere (R, 97 min.) With this portrait of a few days in the ennui-ridden Sunset Boulevard life of a young movie star named Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), writer-director Sofia Coppola again examines the isolation and cultural dislocation ("Lost in Translation," indeed) of privileged public people .

Ridgeway Four.

Take Me Home Tonight (R, 98 min.) Topher Grace, Anna Faris.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Tangled (PG, 101 min.) Voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi.

Bartlett 10.

The Tourist (PG-13, 104 min.) Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie.

Bartlett 10.

Tron: Legacy (PG, 125 min.) Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund.

Bartlett 10.

True Grit (PG-13, 110 min.) Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Unknown (PG-13, 113 min.) Liam Neeson.

Majestic, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso, Hollywood 20 Cinema.

Unstoppable (PG-13, 98 min.) Denzel Washington, Chris Pine.

Bartlett 10.

Yogi Bear (PG, 83 min.) Dan Ayrkoyd, Justin Timberlake.

Bartlett 10.

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