Short reviews

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A Scanner Darkly (R, 100 minutes) Adapting the books and short stories of Philip K. Dick is no easy task. Blade Runner is about the only good one and it has very little to do with Dick’s original novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Nonetheless, Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset) tries to infuse as much Dickian weirdness, paranoia and drug references as possible into this bleak, dreamlike animated feature. Keanu Reeves stars as either a drug addict living in near-future California or a high-tech undercover narcotics agent spying on the addict (or both, maybe). It’s all a little hard to work out, because the film revels in the confusing and obscure. Still, the unusual rotoscope animation is very cool, and the entire exercise appropriately psychedelic. Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson are also in there (in animated form). (Devin O’Leary) Coming Friday; check local listings

Accepted (PG-13, 90 minutes) Unable to get into college, an enterprising young man (Justin Long from those Mac computer commercials) invents his own fake college in order to fool his overzealous parents. In time, other slacker students flock to him, forcing the opening of a “real” fake school. This one basically throws Ferris Bueller, Animal House and Old School into a cocktail shaker and mixes generously. Earns a few laughs and a barely passing grade. (D.O.) Playing at Regal Seminole Square Cinema 4

Barnyard (PG, 90 minutes) The summer of CGI toons continues. Here, writer/director Steve Oedekerk (Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist) spins a tale of what happens in the barnyard when the farmer’s away. At first it’s all fun and games, but eventually a carefree cow named Otis (Kevin James) has to accept some responsibility and start running the farm. Voice cast includes Courteney Cox, Sam Elliot, Danny Glover, Andie MacDowell and the suddenly ubiquitous Wanda Sykes (who kicked of the summer with the CGI toon Over the Hedge). The film is harmless enough, but a lot of people are kinda freaked out by the fact that Otis has udders. (D.O.) Playing at Carmike Cinema 6

Beerfest (R, 110 minutes) From the Broken Lizard comedy team (makers of Super Troopers and…The Dukes of Hazzard, but we’ll ignore that for now) comes this raucous laugher about a team of determined drinkers that travels to Oktoberfest in Germany. There, they uncover a centuries-old secret competition, the Olympics of beer guzzling. And these boys aren’t leaving until the crown rests in American hands. Boobies and substance abuse—how can you go wrong? (D.O.) Playing at Carmike Cinema 6

Crank (R) British tough Jason Statham (The Transporter) stars in this action thriller as a hit man who learns he has been injected with a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops below below a certain rate. So basically, it’s Speed on a … well, on foot. Oddball cast includes Efran Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite), Amy Smart (Varsity Blues) and Dwight Yoakam. The action is rough and the film (fortunately) doesn’t take itself too seriously. (D.O.) Coming Friday; check local listings

Crossover (PG-13, 95 minutes) Two pals (one a pre-med student, the other an ex-con) enter a rough-and-tumble, trash-talking streetball tournament in Los Angeles. Think White Men Can’t Jump, but without the white guy. If you play a lot of NBA Ballers on the Xbox, this may be the flick for you. (D.O.) Coming Friday; check local listings

The Devil Wears Prada (PG-13) This fashion-industry comedy stars Anne Hathaway as an aspiring journalist who winds up as a gopher for Meryl Streep’s boss-from-hell, but the two of them aren’t allowed to get much going, Streep’s ice-cold performance getting stranded on the runway. The movie could have been an enjoyable romp; instead, it’s as earnest as Wall Street, only with frocks instead of stocks. (Kent Williams) Playing at Regal Downtown Mall 6

How to Eat Fried Worms (PG, 98 minutes) More than a few generations of elementary school kids have grown up reading Thomas Rockwell’s gross-out classic How To Eat Fried Worms (first published in 1973). Now it comes to life on the big screen. Luke Benward (Because of Winn-Dixie) stars as Billy, an ordinary fifth-grader who accepts an ugly challenge from the school bully: eat 15 worms in 15 days. (D.O.) Playing at Carmike Cinema 6

Idlewild (R, 90 minutes) This Prohibition-era musical is set in the American South where Outkast members André 3000 and Big Boi star as a speakeasy performer and a club manager who run afoul of some gangsters who want to take over their juke joint. The music is hot and the look is slick, but the film has been sitting on the shelf for nearly two years. An oddball mixture of music, dancing, animation and singing morticians (don’t ask), make this a curious offering, if nothing else. (D.O.) Playing at Regal Downtown Mall 6

Invincible (PG) Remember Rock Star, the inspired-by-a-true-story in which Mark Wahlberg played an ordinary dude who got to try out for his favorite rock band? Well, here we have an inspired-by-a-true-story in which Mark Wahlberg plays an ordinary dude who gets to try out for his favorite football team. Terribly inspirational if you’re the type to be inspired by the usual underdog sports movie. (D.O.) Playing at Carmike Cinema 6

Little Miss Sunshine (R, 100 minutes) This pitch-black comedy features a strong cast (Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette,  Steve Carell) in the story of a downwardly mobile Albuquerque family that can’t win for losing. Although the filmmakers sometimes press too hard on their theme about the hollowness of the American Dream, the movie often achieves a light, farcical tone that’s touchingly at odds with the mood everybody’s in. (K.W.) Playing at Regal Downtown Mall 6

Material Girls (PG, 98 minutes) Hilary and Hayley Duff star in this minor variation on the Hilton sisters myth. The sisters play heiresses to a family cosmetics fortune who are given a wake-up call when a scandal and ensuing investigation strip them of their wealth. Suddenly, our celebutantes are living “The Simple Life.” I’m sure they both learn a valuable lesson. If you’re not a 12-year-old girl, you shouldn’t even be reading this capsule. (D.O.) Playing at Carmike Cinema 6

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (PG-13, 150 minutes) Call it a nasty case of sequelitis, but this second installment in the Disney theme-park franchise is bigger, louder and absolutely determined to entertain. The action sequences more or less work, but the smaller, goofier moments come up short, and that includes Johnny Depp’s surprisingly unsurprising performance as Captain Jack Sparrow. (K.W.) Playing at Regal Seminole Square Cinema 4

Pulse (R, 87 minutes) This nearly shot-for-shot remake of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s haunting 2001 film Kairo replaces the original Asian cast with the usual group of teen TV stars (Kristen Bell from “Veronica Mars,” Ian Somerhalder from “Lost”) and tries a little harder to explain what the hell’s going on. It all has something to do with a suicide, a computer virus and a whole hell of a lot of ghosts. Despite a consistantly creepy mood, the slow-going film can’t quite match the original’s surreal freakiness. (D.O.) Playing at Regal Downtown Mall 6

Scoop (PG-13, 96 minutes) The newly revitalized Woody Allen continues to pump out the films. His new muse, Scarlett Johannson, stars as an American journalism student who falls in love with a handsome aristocrat (Hugh Jackman), who just happens to be the prime suspect in a string of serial killings. It’s a little scary to see Allen stepping back in front of the camera (he plays a bumbling magician helping our gal reporter in her investigation), but at least he hasn’t cast himself as the romantic lead. Considerably funnier than Match Point, but not quite as brilliant. (D.O.) Playing at Regal Downtown Mall 6

Snakes on a Plane (R, 106 minutes) Really, what could I possibly add? It’s mother*&#$@ing snakes on a mother*&#$@ing plane! Get yourself to a mother*&#$@ing theater! (D.O.) Playing at Regal Seminole Square Cinema 4

Step Up (PG-13, 98 minutes) You know that film where the uptight, classically trained dancer chick hooks up with the street-smart bad boy to wow the establishment with their radical mixture of ballet and hip-hop while falling in love with one another? Well, this is one of those. If you paid good money for Save the Last Dance, you’ll probably do the same here. (D.O.) Playing at Regal Seminole Square Cinema 4

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (PG-13, 100 minutes) Will Ferrell drags a bunch of pals  (John C. Reilly, Michael Clarke Duncan, Gary Cole, Sacha Baron Cohen) along for this goofball riff on NASCAR culture. Ferrell stars as a rebel NASCAR driver who suddenly faces stiff competition from a flamboyant French Formula-1 driver (Cohen from “Da Ali G Show”). There’s a continuing feeling that Ferrell and friends are just making this thing up as they go along, but that doesn’t stop it form beeing quite funny on occasion. If you liked Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, you’ll be in good hands here, becasue it’s largely the same movie. (D.O.) Playing at Carmike Cinema 6

The Wicker Man (PG-13, 106 minutes) Nicolas Cage stars in this remake of the underrated 1973 British chiller. Cage is a cop investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote island where mysterious pagan practices still rule. The film updates the original story quite a bit, but piles on even more creepy atmosphere. Neil LaBute (The Shape of Things, Your Friends & Neighbors) writes and directs. (D.O.) Coming Friday; check local listings

World Trade Center (PG-13, 125 minutes) Oliver Stone strips away even the slightest hint of politics to tell the true story of two New York Port Authority policemen trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center collapse. At its heart an inspirational disaster film, the simple narrative concentrates on the officers (Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena) and their terrified wives (Maggie Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello). This moving and deeply personal tale takes us back to 9/11 not to recall the trauma of that day, but to remind us that it was originally a human story and not a tale of governments, occupying forces and insurgents. There are a lot of Oscar nominations in this one. (D.O.) Playing at Regal Downtown Mall 6

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