Hot Tub Time Machine (R) ★★☆☆☆
Considering John Cusack produced this lackluster comedy romp wherein three fortysomething buddies travel back to their ’80s-era heyday of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, Hot Tub Time Machine should at least feature some cool music à la High Fidelity. But instead of the Lords of the New Church, we get Poison and Mötley Crüe. After their buddy Lou (Rob Corddry) tries to off himself in his garage, recently separated Adam (John Cusack) and his pal Nick (Craig Robinson) take Lou and Adam’s geeky nephew Jakob (Clark Duke) to the ski lodge scene of their youthful fantasies. With a little help from a Russian energy drink, their hotel room’s hot tub transports them back to the bad, old Reagan era where they have to repeat former mistakes in order to return to the modern times of e-mail, iPhones and even worse political turmoil. Chevy Chase is wasted in a minor role, as is Crispin Glover. Homosexual hijinks and poorly executed slapstick punches and pratfalls attend this sloppy comedy that could have at least been made bearable with a soundtrack of cool music. You’d think that Cusack had never even heard of the Replacements or Iggy Pop.
Greenburg (R) ★★★★☆
The desolation of the 21st-century filters through the midlife crisis of Ben Stiller’s title character in Noah Baumbach’s edgy rom-com. Stiller house-sits for his more successful sibling (Chris Messina), while he dates his brother’s personal assistant (Greta Gerwig). With Greenberg, Baumbach and wife/co-story writer Jennifer Jason Leigh fearlessly stare into a social abyss that’s swallowing up a country forced into stagnation.
Chloe (R) ★★☆☆☆
In this formulaic suspense picture about sexual deception, Julianne Moore’s Catherine hires local call girl Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) to discover if her flirtatious but loyal husband, David (Liam Neeson), can be tempted into cheating. Eric Cressida Wilson’s script places Chloe as the protagonist, then backpedals between the couple and their teenage son (Max Thieriot). The film eventually punishes the audience for its curiosity about the title character.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (NOT RATED) ★★★☆☆
Dragon Tattoo is an enigmatic mystery thriller fueled by the intensity of goth-girl heroine Lisbeth Salander (ferociously played by Noomi Rapace) who comes to the aid of Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) to solve a 40-year-old mystery. Although her large back tattoo is never addressed, the Asian symbol of primordial vengeance lurks gracefully at the frayed edges of every scene.
The Runways (R) ★★★☆☆
The Runaways follows the crash-and-burn experiences of the 1970s manufactured all-girl rock band of the same name. Dakota Fanning delivers her best work as the band’s bisexual vocalist, while Kristen Stewart channels Joan Jett. But Michael Shannon steals the show as their famously eccentric producer. Debut filmmaker Floria Sigismondi is keen on telescoping meta meaning, while the real Jett and record producer Kenny Laguna executive produced.
Repo Men (R) ★☆☆☆☆
In director Miguel Sapochnik’s blood-and-bullets adaptation of Eric Garcia’s Repossession Mambo, Jude Law and Forest Whitaker are medical repo men for a company that sells organs. Carice van Houten piques interest as Law’s abandoning wife before Alice Braga takes over dystopian duties. Repo uses every blood-splattering cliché in the book: Like pornography, you know it when you see it, and you’ve seen all before.
She’s Out of My League (R) ★☆☆☆☆
Not as crass, or as sophisticated, as the Apatow-themed humor that it aspires to, League succeeds on the strength of its gawky leading man, Jay Baruchel Combining humble innocence with comic chops to inspire heartfelt laughs, he plays a geeky live-at-home loser 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.