Short Reviews

Behind the Burly-Q (Not Rated) ★★★☆☆

Leslie Zemeckis’ fast-paced documentary about America’s burlesque industry of the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look. From club owners to historians, family members and comedians, the film speaks clearest from the mouths of strippers like Tempest Storm, Blaze Starr and Kitty West. A wealth of archive footage and photographs accompany the wild-and-wooly anecdotes being recounted.

The Back-Up Plan (PG-13) ☆☆☆☆☆

On the day of her artificial insemination, Jennifer Lopez finally meets the man of her dreams. Excruciating, interminable and preoccupied with the words “shit” and “vagina,” The Back-Up Plan is the worst film to come out of Hollywood so far this year. Television director Alan Poul (Big Love) makes his feature film debut with a remedial script by TV writer Kate Angelo that’s made worse by Alex O’Loughlin’s performance.

Oceans (G) ★★★★☆

Led by Pierce Brosnan’s commanding narration, filmmakers Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud explore immense regions of the ocean. Although it sounds like the kind of documentary you’ve seen before, Oceans takes full advantage of state-of-the-art technology to show audiences crystal-clear images. The filmmakers balance the dramatic and peaceful rituals of ocean animals with the enormous pollution problem.

The Losers (PG-13) ★★☆☆☆

Hot on the trail of Kick-Ass, last week’s experiment in vacant violence, The Losers is equally wrongheaded. A team of U.S. Special Forces, led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Clay, gets double-crossed and then joins up with a mercenary named Aisha (Zoe Saldana) who insists they seek revenge against CIA baddie Max (Jason Patrick). The film’s politics, like this entire effort, are sketchy. Each character seems disconnected.

Kick-Ass (R) ☆☆☆☆☆

Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) oversees this dumb story, co-written by comic book writers Mark Millar and John S. Romita Jr. The story is about the young Dave (Aaron Johnson) who reinvents himself as Kick-Ass. He finds assistance from a Batman wannabe (Nicolas Cage) and his Robin-ish daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz).

Date Night (PG-13) ★★★☆☆

This middle-aged rom-com splits between slap-stick and comic delivery. As a wedded couple, Tina Fey and Steve Carell are plausible and funny. Screenwriter Josh Klausner’s hackneyed plot puts the couple on the run. Cameos from Mark Wahlberg, Ray Liotta, James Franco and Mila Kunis barely improve the script. Fey and Carell deserve better.

Death at a Funeral (R) ★★☆☆☆

Audiences unfamiliar with Frank Oz’s 2007 original film by the same title will enjoy Neil LaBute’s lesser remake, whose conceit lies in transplanting the setting from the U.K. to the U.S. and replacing the all-white cast with a largely African-American group (Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan). Screenwriter Dean Craig updates his own comedy of errors.

The Clash of the Titans (PG-13) ★★★☆☆

In spite of a miscast Sam Worthington and a lame CGI Medusa, Titans is an enjoyable spectacle based on the myth of Perseus. Director Louis Leterrier (Transporter 2) makes the most of big action set pieces that include intense battles. To all the critical moaning about this update of Desmond Davis’ 1981 original, I say pishaw. Solid performances from Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes add gravitas.

Hot Tub Time Machine (R) ★★☆☆☆

Considering John Cusack produced this lackluster comedy romp in which three buddies (Rob Corddry, Cusack and Craig Robinson) travel back to their ’80s-era heyday, Time Machine should at least feature some cool music. Chevy Chase and Crispin Glover are wasted in minor roles. Homosexual hijinks and poorly executed slapstick pratfalls attend this sloppy comedy.

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Let the sun shine on your gadgets

Let the sun shine on your gadgets

Looking to take a vacation away from technology? Good luck. These days, it takes a lot of discipline to turn off your Blackberry or iPhone and get away from it all. Even a weeklong camping trip to the Valley of Fire State Park doesn’t mean you’ll be without access to e-mail anymore. OK, it can be tricky to get cell reception, but there’s no need to go without power.