She’s Out of My League (R) ★★★☆☆
Not as crass, or as sophisticated, as the Apatow-themed humor that it aspires to, She’s Out of My League succeeds on the strength of its gawky leading man. Jay Baruchel combines humble innocence with comic chops to inspire heartfelt laughs. Baruchel plays a geeky guy with a dead-end job who somehow scores a date with the beautiful Molly (Alice Eve). This film won’t knock your socks off, but sometimes it’s OK to leave the socks on.
Our Family Wedding (PG-13) ★★☆☆☆
Writer/director Rick Famuyiwa’s version of interracial marriage is about as much fun as a dentist’s visit. America Ferrara plays Latin hottie to Lance Gross’ picture of moneyed African-American perfection. The wedding-bound couple head home to break the news to their unprepared, and only somewhat racist patriarchs, played by Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia. The filmmaker relies on unmotivated slapstick set pieces that perpetually fizzle out.
Alice in Wonderland (PG) ★★★★☆
Newcomer Mia Wasikowska is ideal as Alice in Tim Burton’s juiced-up adaptation. Presented in 3D, Burton’s filigree-filled fantasy blooms after 19-year-old Alice steps away from a marriage proposal. A messy tea party in “Underland” with Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter leads Alice on a journey to the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter). It’s difficult to imagine another filmmaker doing this degree of justice to this well-worn children’s tale.
Green Zone (R) ★★☆☆☆
Director Paul Greengrass attempts to overcompensate for his flat 2006 propaganda piece United 93 with a shaky-cam Iraq war picture carrying the moldy message that “weapons of mass destruction” were an excuse for war. The Baghdad-set action is one long and overplayed chase sequence: Matt Damon is fed up with leading his Army inspectors on fruitless missions to uncover WMD, while Greg Kinnear plays a Pentagon baddie.
Shutter Island (R) ★★★★☆
For his 45th film, Martin Scorsese crafts a gorgeously stylized psychological thriller. As U.S. Marshal Edward “Teddy” Daniels, Leonardo DiCaprio and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) arrive on a foggy isle to investigate a patient’s disappearance from a private prison hospital for the criminally insane. This Cold War-era mystery exponentially folds back on itself during its shocking third act. A truly engrossing picture.
Brooklyn’s Finest (R) ★★★☆☆
Director Antoine Fuqua returns to the gritty cop drama genre that made him a household name in 2001 with Training Day. This time around, East Brooklyn’s is home to three cops (Richard Gere, Ethan Hawke and Don Cheadle) whose ethical compasses are way off—in ways we’ve seen before. Fuqua massages the script’s obvious clichés with a sense of personal attachment to his characters that makes you believe in them.
The Crazies (R) ★★★☆☆
George A. Romero produced this update of his 1973 satirical horror flick. A spree of murder-suicides disrupts small-town bliss. Satellite-view imagery hints at unseen military officials orchestrating an attack. Director Breck Eisner compresses the suspense into tightly edited pieces that balance thematic import with shocks of gory confrontation. While not Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies hits the zombie on the head.
Cop Out (R) ★☆☆☆☆
Perhaps after the miserable action/comedy flop that is Cop Out, Hollywood will send director Kevin Smith back to his marginal indie fare. With a bare-bones plot that’s hardly worth repeating, police partners (Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) run around Brooklyn shooting, killing and car-chasing like a couple of clowns. You’ll yawn, you’ll squirm and you’ll wait impatiently for this interminable piece of trash to finally end.
The Ghost Writer (PG-13) ★★★☆☆
Co-written by Roman Polanski with political journalist Robert Harris, upon whose novel the film is based, Writer is full of plot holes yet still entices. Ewan McGregor plays a ghostwriter for Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a former British prime minister accused of war crimes. Despite Harris’ personal experience as a journalist once close to Tony Blair, the screenwriter fails to sufficiently ignite explosive plot points for Polanski to examine.