(M.P. — Michael Phillips; G.W. — Glenn Whipp; K.T. — Kenneth Turan; R.M. — Roger Moore; S.L. — Sheri Linden)
From the writer-director who gave us “The Hangover,” this film is even more of a drag. Anything you might find amusing in “Due Date,” you’ve seen already in the trailer. At the airport, a homeward-bound L.A. architect (Robert Downey Jr.) lands on a no-fly list along with a gormless would-be actor (Zach Galifianakis). They’re forced to share a rental car on their drive west. They fight. The architect burns, while the actor fiddles. They odd-couple it all the way across the south and southwest. Downey is smart enough to realize what he’s dealing with, which isn’t much. R (language, drug use and sexual content). 1:40. 1 1/2 stars. — M.P.
The story of a girl who gains a reputation as her high school’s No. 1 skank after her white lie about a boring weekend, “Easy A” is neither as smart nor as funny as it wants to be. Much of what passes for fresh in this “Scarlet Letter” update doesn’t bear closer inspection, yet the movie is not without its pleasures, chief among them the potentially star-making lead performance by Emma Stone. Stone’s character embraces her shame and the pretend shenanigans ensue. The movie is up-to-the-minute with text gossip and webcam narration, but a bit over the top. PG-13 (teen sexuality, language and some drug material). 1:30. 2 stars. — S.L.
For Colored Girls
While Tyler Perry may have loved Ntozake Shange’s powerhouse of a play, he unfortunately becomes its undoing onscreen. Perry’s adaptation plants a group of women in a Harlem apartment building. Connections are made, drama ensues, and Perry adds in several new characters to flesh out the ensemble and give it a “Crash”- like vibe of colliding destinies. The problem is that maximum emotional volume does not always equal maximum effectiveness, and Perry ends up with 134 minutes of misjudged intensity. R (disturbing violence, rape, sexual content and language). 2:14. 1 1/2 stars. — M.P.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Audiences like this sort of thing, the third film based on the late Stieg Larsson’s best-selling books referred to as the Millenium trilogy. We like revenge stories, especially that of the borderline-superhuman heroine here, bisexual computer wizard and sexual abuse survivor Lisbeth Salander, who exacts bittersweet revenge on the men who very nearly destroy her. This wrap-up film is a rather wobbly blend of courtroom drama and loose ends tied, albeit rather leisurely. It is both formulaic and unformulaic enough. R (strong violence, sexual material and language). 2:38. 2 1/2 stars. — M.P.
“Hereafter” is a solemnly reassuring film made by major talents working intriguingly outside their comfort zones. Director Clint Eastwood weaves together three story strands: French journalist Marie who survives a massive CGI tsunami in Indonesia; young twin brothers in London grappling with the aftereffects of a terrorist bombing; and George (Matt Damon), a San Francisco psychic trying to come to grips with it all. While remaining neutral and inoffensive, the film lacks the power we’ve come to expect from Eastwood. PG-13 (for mature thematic elements, disturbing images, and brief strong language). 2:09. 2 stars. — M.P.
Life As We Know It
As opposed to most of this year’s rom-coms, this film does not crush your soul, only occasionally devolves into clumsy, poorly timed slapstick and outstays its modest but heartfelt welcome only by 10-15 minutes. After their best friends die in a car accident, Holly (Heigl) and Eric (Duhamel), the godparents who can barely tolerate each other, learn they’ve been named guardians of year-old Sophie. Uneasily they move in to their late friends’ spacious Atlanta home and begin playing competing versions of “house.” PG-13 (for sexual material, language and some drug content). 1:53. 2 1/2 stars. —
This new DreamWorks animated feature is about a hapless blue villain, humanized. Will Ferrell is the voice of Megamind; Brad Pitt, less crucial to the story, voices Metro Man, defender of Metro City, slightly smug in his fabulousness. An immigrant from another galaxy, raised by hardened criminals, Megamind wages attempt after attempt to take over Metro City with the aid of his minion, Minion (a fishlike critter in a space helmet). Screenwriters Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons do a few things right, but you have seen all this before. PG (action and some language). 1:36. 2 1/2 stars. — M.P.
Paranormal Activity 2
Here we have a shrewd sequel a touch better than the original. Set two months prior to the San Diego County hauntings of the first film, the sequel follows Kristi, who returns home with newborn Hunter only to find some supernatural goings on at the house. Just as before, we’re watching home video and surveillance footage throughout, only this time we get six cameras in different rooms. The restraint here is impressive, and the sight of a dog or a baby watching something the camera cannot see … well, I’m scared just thinking about it. R (language and brief violent material). 1:31. 3 stars. — M.P.
There is no suspense in this movie about the 1973 Triple Crown-winning horse, but it’s got heart. Diane Lane stars as the horse’s owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy, a Denver wife and mother who won the future champ in a coin toss, and who took over the Virginia horse farm owned by her dying father (Scott Glenn). John Malkovich lets his golf outfits do the talking in the role of the eccentric trainer Lucien Laurin, no less exotic a figure to the old money horsey-set atmosphere Penny must learn to negotiate. The film isn’t bad but it’s precisely what you’d expect. The story belongs to Penny. PG (brief mild language). 1:56. 2 stars. — M.P.
The Social Network
At once stealthy and breathlessly paced, “The Social Network” scoots at a fabulous clip, depicting Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) made his billions. When a drunken hack job of Harvard’s student directory turns into a social networking collaboration called “thefacebook,” Zuckerberg takes the idea and his mad programming skills to dot.com, California, leaving his collaborators in the dust. Director David Fincher brings his deft and moody touch, giving us one of the most stimulating films of the year. PG-13 (sexual content, drug and alcohol use, language). 2:00. 3 1/2 stars. — M.P.