Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by The Commercial Appeal movie writer John Beifuss.
Apollo 18 (PG-13, 86 min.) Like 'Paranormal Activity,' but with astronauts.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
The Guard (R, 96 min.) See review on Page 16.
Seven Days in Utopia (G, 98 min.) Lucas Black, Robert Duvall and Melissa Leo star in an inspirational golf drama.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Paradiso.
Shark Night 3D (PG-13, 91 min.) Now, THIS is why they invented 3D.
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Breathless (Not rated, 90 min.) This 1960 Jean-Luc Godard masterpiece about a Bogart-worshipping criminal (Jean-Paul Belmondo) and a pixie-coiffed gamine (Jean Seberg) may be the definitive film of the French New Wave.
7 p.m. Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Admission: $8, or $6 for museum or Indie Memphis members. Visit brooksmuseum.org.
French Cancan (Not rated, 102 min.) Rhodes College professor Shira Malkin introduces this colorful 1954 French musical by Jean Renoir.
7 p.m. Thursday, Dixon Gallery and Gardens. Regular admission prices apply. Visit dixon.org.
Hubble: Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this IMAX film explores the legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope and its impact on our understanding of the universe. Runs through Nov. 11. Tickets $8.25, $7.50 senior citizens, $6.50 children ages 3-12; children under 3 free.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 320-6362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (R, 100 min.) The "Summer Classic Movie Series" concludes with the 1975 audience-participation bi-sci-fi musical.
7:15 tonight, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Admission: $7 per adult, $5 per senior or child (12 and younger). Call (901) 525-3000, or visit orpheum-memphis.org.
The Ultimate Wave Tahiti: Viewers will learn how waves influence and shape our planet while they ride alongside champion surfer Kelly Slater as he challenges Tahiti's toughest wave. Runs through March 2, 2012. Tickets $8.25, $7.50 senior citizens, $6.50 children ages 3-12; children under 3 free.
IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call (901) 320-6362 for show times, tickets and reservations.
Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton Play the Blues (Not rated, 120 min.) The jazz and rock legends join forces for this concert film, shot in April in New York.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Paradiso. Tickets: $12.50. Visit malco.com.
Bad Teacher (R, 89 min.) Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Bridesmaids (R, 125 min.) Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne.
Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13, 124 min.) Journeyman director Joe Johnston (whose "The Rocketeer" was a similar exercise in World War II-era superhero nostalgia) delivers the squarest Marvel Comics adaptation of the current cycle, and it's this old-school pulp sense of adventure and the characters' old-fashioned decorum (even brawling commando "Dum Dum" Dugan doesn't curse) that makes the film so satisfying. Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a 4F weakling who is transformed into a star-spangled "super soldier" by the U.S. government; he soon finds himself battling a nefarious would-be world-conqueror, the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), leader of a rogue Nazi terrorist unit, HYDRA. As its subtitle indicates, the movie to some extent is a feature-length promotion for the upcoming superhero all-star epic, "The Avengers"; nevertheless, it's a more appealing stand-alone comic-book adaptation than most. Tommy Lee Jones adds needed grit as a tough Army colonel, while Hayley Atwell provides 1940s-style WAC glamor (and romantic possibilities) as a science officer.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
Cars 2 (G, 112 min.) Voices of Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
The Change-Up (R, 112 min.) A film that embraces its R rating with all the self-restraint and self-respect of a teenage boy discovering a Hustler magazine in a neighborhood recycling bin, this "body-swap" comedy from the "Hangover" writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore is grotesque and offensive, and overloaded with gratuitous gags about masturbation, "Downsy" children and pregnant nymphomaniacs. Lead actors Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman are impressive, but director David Dobkin buries their performances beneath a spray of baby poop, almost literally: Noisy bathroom humor occurs repeatedly, but the movie is only minutes old when an infant hits us -- and Bateman, whose point of view we momentarily share -- smack in the face with a projectile of, um, mess. Digital effects are used to animate the baby's nether region to heighten the "suspense" -- a high-tech detail that makes this particular bit of diaper-changing slapstick especially tasteless and overwrought. Reynolds plays a sex-crazed bachelor man-child, while Bateman is his lifelong overworked husband/father best friend; when the two magically switch bodies after urinating in an enchanted fountain, inevitable life lessons follow. Even the topless scenes with Leslie Mann are worthless: They're digital constructs. Thanks, Hollywood: You've even figured out how to take the fun out of nudity.
Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema.
Colombiana (PG-13, 108 min.) Cat-like Zoe Saldana is Cataleya (named for an orchid), a vengeful Bogota orphan turned coldblooded unstoppable killer in the latest saga of female kick-assery from the action-movie assembly line of producer/co-writer Luc Besson ("The Professional," "Nikita"). Directed by the appropriately named Olivier Megaton, the film might have been a classic, but the promise of the borderline-priceless early scenes with Amandla Stenberg as the 10-year-old Cataleya aren't quite fulfilled by the more predictable if clever and nicely staged set pieces with the adult assassin that follow. (The highlight: a "Mission: Impossible"-worthy jailhouse hit.)
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Conan the Barbarian (R, 112 min.) A movie that includes a cast listing for "Topless Wenches" at least ought to have a kitschy sense of humor, but not this noisy, cheerless actioner; one imagines that director Marcus Nispel's eyes twinkled only when staging the skull-crackings, impalements and dismemberments that, paradoxically, are the movie's only signs of life. (Well, Nispel is the guy who helmed the remakes of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th.") Amid the chaotic carnage (baby Conan himself is delivered by sword-administered C-section on a bloody battlefield), the one truly squirm-inducing moment finds the Barbarian sticking his finger up what's left of a bad guy's nose -- ouuucchh! Replacing Arnold Schwarzenegger as the "Hyborian Age" adventurer introduced by author Robert E. Howard in the pulp magazine, "Weird Tales," in 1932, Jason Momoa ("Game of Thrones") has the requisite Frazettaesque sneer and physique, but the overcomplicated yet simple-minded premise -- set up by narrator Morgan Freeman, no less -- gives the Cimmerian nothing to do but slay and slay; distressingly, the Conan franchise itself appears to be among the victims. At least Rose McGowan's Freddy Krueger-clawed witch looks cool. The post-production 3D is worthless.
CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Cowboys & Aliens (PG-13, 118 min.) Stoic memory-wiped outlaw Daniel Craig and scowly ranch boss Harrison Ford face close encounters of the cactus kind when mean and ugly outer-space aliens invade 1873 Arizona, to dig for gold, probe cowpokes, impale Indians and otherwise make the intruding white man of the Old West look as benevolent as the Good Humor Man. Director Jon Favreau's post-"Iron Man" blockbuster is enjoyable, and it boasts a nice cast (Paul Dano, Keith Carradine, Olivia Wilde, etc.), but it's less fun than such low-stakes predecessors as "The Valley of Gwangi," Gene Autry's "The Phantom Empire" and "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter."
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (PG-13, 118 min.) Steve Carell starred in a movie titled "Dinner for Schmucks," but the actor more accurately specializes in shnooks: people who are hapless and naive, rather than stupid and obnoxious. Here, he plays a husband-turned-"cuckold" whose life is thrown out of whack when his "soulmate" of 25 years (Julianne Moore) says she wants a divorce. Written by Dan Fogelman and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (the team that made its debut with the very worthwhile "I Love You Phillip Morris"), the film primarily labors to reunite the husband and wife; at the same time, it works to join a callow, expert ladies' man (Ryan Gosling, perfectly cast to make use of his trademark smugness and self-regard) with a disarmingly sweet would-be conquest (the vivid Emma Stone). In the circle-of-frustration fashion of the "Peanuts" comic strip, supporting characters (including a young teen boy played by Jonah Bobo and a babysitter played by Analeigh Tipton) have unrequited crushes of their own, so the film features many professions of love, both genuine and insincere. The movie is constructed with such professionalism and inhabited by such warm characters that it glides over the contrivances of its plot, even when it occasionally crosses the line of bad taste.
Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
The Debt (R, 113 min.) Opened Wednesday. Review on Page 12.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Ridgeway Four, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (R, 100 min.) Director Troy Nixon's remake of a famously spooky 1973 ABC Movie of the Week is an effective if overthought horror tale about the creepy "little things" that scuttle along baseboards, under beds and through air ducts -- not rats and roaches, in this case, but evil ugly fairies with a literal hunger for children's teeth. Leaving teethmarks of his own is producer/co-writer Guillermo del Toro; as in "Pan's Labyrinth," he connects a vulnerable child's yearnings to the attractions-turned-terrors of the supernatural realm. Bailee Madison stars as a little girl with issues whose stories of goblin-like imps are disbelieved by her architect father (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes), who are trying to restore a creepy old mansion in Rhode Island. As Peter Jackson did with "King Kong," del Toro is attempting to make a beloved influence as spectacular in fact as it appeared to have been to his childhood imagination, but this very impulse diminishes the power -- the mystery -- of the source material. By the end of this film, the impressively realized creatures have been revealed in so much detail that we recognize them as assignments from an artist's workshop, not escapees from a nightmare.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Fast Five (PG-13, 130 min.) Vin Diesel, Paul Walker.
Final Destination 5 (R, 92 min.) Contrary to rumor, Death never takes a holiday, as demonstrated yet again in this ultra-gory exercise in audience manhandling that begins with a spectacular high-tension bridge collapse that totally justifies the 3D surcharge. (See David Koechner enveloped by hot liquid asphalt!) Directed by feature newcomer Steven Quale, the film is little more than a series of nail-biting, sadistic set pieces, as invisible omnipresent Death (symbolized by series returnee Tony Todd, the "coroner") contrives a series of Rube Goldberg-like lethal coincidences to wipe out the demographically diverse and mostly photogenic young people who somehow missed their original dates with destiny. Repetitious? Yes, but so what? The "Final Destination" franchise is the Ramones discography of horror cinema: There's not a lot of variety, but if you liked the first release, there's no reason not to like the rest.
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Friends with Benefits (R, 110 min.) Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis.
Fright Night (R, 106 min.) It can't hold a flickering haunted-house candle to the 1985 original, but this vampire remake is a fine "B" film -- a witty (if frequently poorly motivated) chiller-thriller that justifies its 3D surcharge by tossing splattery vampire innards and "For Sale" yard-sign stakes at the audience. The movie benefits from a sly performance by Colin Farrell as hunky "Jerry the Vampire," who dresses like the construction worker in a male-stripper revue while attracting the suspicion of reformed nerd Charley (Anton Yelchin), his geeky best friend, Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), and a Criss Angel-like stage magician (David Tennant). Directed by Craig Gillespie and scripted by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" veteran Marti Noxon, the movie contains one ingenious twist: The action has been moved to suburban Las Vegas, where a vampire is less likely to be noticed because many of his casino-worker neighbors also sleep all day and rise at night. As in the original, the tensest moments are teasing rather than explicit, when Jerry fences with his wits rather than his fangs. (Assessing Charley's faddish footwear, Jerry comments: "It takes a real man to wear puce.")
CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Green Lantern (PG-13, 114 min.) Ryan Reynolds, Peter Sarsgaard.
The Hangover Part II (R, 102 min.) Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (PG-13, 130 min.) Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson.
Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Palace Cinema, Stage Cinema.
The Help (PG-13, 137 min.) This adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's phenomenally successful best-seller about "colored" maids and their white employers in early 1960s Jackson, Miss., is not only superior to the novel but it may be the most surprising movie of the year: a wide-release studio film about race relations that adopts a liberation rather than plantation mentality by suggesting that nothing good can come of a system in which a "superior" race controls the destiny of another. It's also one of the funnier movies of the year, with more than a dozen indelible, distinctive characters, played by relative newcomers (Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain) and Oscar-validated veterans (Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson). The ensemble is so delightful, it recalls the 1930s heyday of Hollywood women's pictures, such as "Stage Door"; the comedy is the movie's saving grace, and it prevents "The Help" from becoming pretentious or sanctimonious. Emma Stone plays "Skeeter," a socially conscious young Ole Miss grad so disturbed by the casual racism of her former classmates that she encourages the maids Aibileen (Viola Davis, the movie's emotional center) and Minny (scene-stealing Octavia Spencer) to share with her, in secret, "the truth" of their experiences working for white women, so she can publish these stories in book form. Unlike in many similar films, Skeeter is not presented as the black race's white savior (the film's ending is hardly upbeat); and while the book had three narrators, the movie reserves the voiceover for Aibileen, making this more her story than Skeeter's. The recurring "bathroom" theme, however, is problematic; it sometimes seems to strip the maids of the dignity the film otherwise insists upon. Directed by Stockett's longtime friend, Tate Taylor, and shot mostly in Greenwood, Miss., with several Memphians in the cast and crew.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Horrible Bosses (R, 98 min.) Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Kung Fu Panda 2 (PG, 90 min.) Voices of Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman.
Midnight in Paris (PG-13, 100 min.) Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Mr. Popper's Penguins (PG, 95 min.) Jim Carrey, waterfowl.
One Day (PG-13, 107 min.) Movie love stories typically spend most of their running time keeping the lead couple apart until the inevitable climactic clinch, but this film prolongs the sexual tension between opposites-attract so-called best friends Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) over a period of almost 20 years. (If the makers of "Moonlighting" had been this patient, Cybill Shepherd might still be on network television.) Emma is a bookish working-class girl with a brittle wit (and a dubious accent, as presented by Hathaway) who blossoms into a gamine/knockout; Dex is a dashing, confident, wealthy and impulsive lothario who "matures" into a TV celebrity and drunk. Adapted by screenwriter David Nicholls from his 2009 novel, the gimmick and challenge of the story is that we revisit these characters only on the same date (July 15), year after tedious year; perhaps dismayed at having to cast an American star in the lead, Lone Scherfig ("An Education") fails to make this conceit meaningful, and directs with a lack of confidence in the audience's intelligence. Why else have a character explain that Dex's yin-yang tattoo "means a perfect union of opposites," or allow the bored editors to add digital effects to "enhance" the onscreen text that identifies each passing year, so that the letters and numerals scatter as if blown by the wind or pop into view like bread from a toaster, among other distractions?
Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Ridgeway Four, Studio on the Square.
Our Idiot Brother (R, 90 min.) Accompanied by his dog, named Willie Nelson, genial stoner Paul Rudd fails to mesh with sisters Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer and Elizabeth Banks.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Studio on the Square, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (PG-13, 137 min.) Johnny Depp.
Redemption Road (PG-13, 90 min.) Playing theatrically exclusively in the South, this earnest, undistinctive indie calling card for writer-star Morgan Simpson was shot in the Nashville area but takes place all over Dixie, as a ne'er-do-well would-be bluesman (Simpson) joins a cowboy-hatted ex-con Shakespeare buff (Michael Clarke Duncan) on a road trip from Austin to Alabama; the expected life lessons follow. Brief appearances by such legitimate blues performers as Gary Clark Jr., Alabama Slim and Little Freddie King inject momentary life into the project, like the galvanic shocks administered to a disembodied frog's leg; also helping the cause is a supporting cast that includes Luke Perry as a psycho loan shark, Taryn Manning as his punching-bag girlfriend, and Tom Skerrit as a zen blues bar proprieter named "Santa." Mario Van Peebles picked up the director's paycheck.
Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.
Rio (G, 99 min.) Voice of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13, 105 min.) "Curious George" meets "Splice" in this seventh "Apes" film and franchise reboot, which stars James Franco as a big pharma researcher whose retrovirus would-be cure for Alzheimer's transforms lab-born chimpanzee Caesar into the simian genius who foments the title anthropoidal rebellion. The remarkable computer graphics transform the apes into legitimate characters, and the final assault on San Francisco is spectacular and exciting; but the familiar contagion plot line prevents the film from achieving the allegorical charm or cautionary impact of the 1968 original. However, the movie -- more PETA parable than action blockbuster -- may prove influential in raising consciousness about the ever more obvious kinship between ape and man. Directed by Rupert Wyatt; Andy Serkis -- who performed similar duty for Peter Jackson's "King Kong" -- is the actor whose motion-captured pantomime provided the basis for Caesar.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.
Sarah's Key (PG-13, 111 min.) A journalist (Kristin Scott Thomas) investigated France's Nazi past.
The Smurfs (PG, 103 min.) "Who smurfed in here?" That question -- uttered by one of the cheerful cerulean homunculi of Hollywood's latest 3D money grab -- is likely to be echoed in auditoriums across America as parents escort their offspring to this adaptation of the inexplicably popular 1980s Hanna-Barbera cartoon series.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Raleigh Springs Cinema.
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (PG, 89 min.) In "4D," or "Aroma-Scope": Viewers will be given scratch-and-sniff cards so they can follow their noses throughout the "scentsational" film.
CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.
Super 8 (PG-13, 112 min.) Joel Courtney.
30 Minutes or Less (R, 83 min.) Although it succumbs too often to the mean-spiritedness and coarseness that have attached themselves to the American motion-picture comedy like so many foul-mouthed and amoral remoras, director Ruben Fleischer's followup to "Zombieland" is a fast and funny heist-gone-wrong film with something of the crazed aspect of a Donald E. Westlake crime novel or a Coen Brothers action-comedy (even if it represents a greatly dumbed-down version of those models). Jesse Eisenberg is an underachieving "man child" of a pizza deliveryman in Grand Rapids, Mich., who is forced to rob a bank after a bomb is strapped to his chest by a pair of redneck nitwits (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) who need money to pay a hit man (Michael Peña) to kill an ex-Marine lottery millionaire (Fred Ward). Got that? Bianca Kajlich is the treacherous stripper brokering the deal, while Aziz Ansari steals every scene as Eisenberg's best friend/sidekick. The nerd pals would be more sympathetic and funnier if they were more truly underdogs, and not guys with a cavalier attitude toward gunplay and condescending ideas about women; the script plays like it was scuzzed-up during a rewrite intended to attract the "Hangover" audience.
DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PG-13, 157 min.)
Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Stage Cinema.
Winnie the Pooh (G, 70 min.) Pooh Bear, Piglet.
X-Men: First Class (PG-13, 132 min.) James McAvoy.
Zookeeper (PG, 101 min.) Kevin James.