Now playing

Capsules by Michael Sragow and Chris Kaltenbach unless noted. Full reviews are at

Broken English -- Nora Wilder (Parker Posey) always thought she'd work in the arts and get married, but she finds herself catering to VIPs at a boutique hotel while desperately seeking Mr. Right. Parker is marvelous; she and the writer-director Zoe Cassavetes evoke tender laughter from Nora's stumbles and rooting interest that she will ultimately right herself. (M.S.) PG-13 96 minutes B


Evan Almighty -- is a fractured and lamentably unfunny fable about the Good Lord (Morgan Freeman) ordering a latter-day Noah, broadcaster turned congressman Evan Baxter (Steve Carell), to build a contemporary ark. It's a colossal dud - a high-concept low comedy made by people who can't tell a pratfall from a pitfall and stumble into every one. (M.S.) PG 95 minutes D-

Evening -- A dying woman, attended by her two daughters, thinks back to the love she lost during one fateful weekend in the Hamptons some 50 years ago. Overly precious melodrama is redeemed by a cast that includes Claire Danes, Vanessa Redgrave, Glenn Close, Natasha Richardson, Meryl Streep and her daughter, Mamie Gummer. (C.K.) PG-13 115 minutes B-


Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer -- In these films, one member ignites and saves the day; that happens here with Chris Evans' Johnny Storm/Human Torch, who sets off comic conflagrations from the start. (M.S.) PG-13 92 minutes B-

1408, -- based on a Stephen King short story about a nonbeliever who comes to believe, stars John Cusack as a travel writer specializing in allegedly haunted locales. Mike Enslin (Cusack) makes it his mission to stay in Room 1408 of New York's Hotel Dolphin, a room that oozes evil. 1408 is a good, solid scare picture, modestly scaled but well-crafted. (Chicago Tribune) PG-13 94 minutes B-

Hairspray -- In 1962 Baltimore, ebullient, obese teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), who is gung-ho about romance, idealism and rock 'n' roll, helps integrate The Corny Collins Show. Director-choreographer Adam Shankman lets Tracy's jubilation as well as her conscience be his guide: Along with his all-star cast, he gives this musical a zest that gets audiences jumping. (M.S.) PG 117 minutes A

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- Harry must fight both the Luciferian evil of Lord Voldemort and the creeping, insidious cruelties of small-minded bureaucrats. It's a vivid and surprisingly ticklish series entry that leaves you stoked for what comes next. (M.S.) PG-13 138 minutes B+

I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry -- Two New York City firefighters (Adam Sandler and Kevin James) "marry" so one can change the beneficiary on his retirement benefits. Blechhh! Sandler and James have no chemistry, and this comedy formula - be as offensive as possible, as long as you see the error of your ways in the end - is indefensible. (C.K.) PG-13 110 minutes D+

Knocked Up -- continues the tradition writer-director Judd Apatow started in 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, in which Steve Carell, as cinema's least-refined lothario, ended up with Catherine Keener. Here, it's Seth Rogen, an adolescent, who believes life is best lived stoned and whose aspiration is to create a Web site listing every nude scene ever filmed, and still ends up with Katherine Heigl. There's a lot of hilarity leading up to and surrounding that relationship, and, in typical Apatow fashion, it's good-hearted and organic. True, the film could use some editing, and Rogen is better in a supporting role than a lead, but Knocked Up offers comic relief infused with all kinds of hope - not the least of which is that there's still humor to be found in the human condition, humor that doesn't depend on mean-spiritedness or pandering to its audience's baser instincts. (C.K.) R 129 minutes B

La Vie en Rose -- chronicles the great French singer Edith Piaf as she carries her romantic history into nightclubs, over radio and on records with a pyrotechnic artistry that lifts her listeners to a state of exaltation. As Piaf, who died at the astonishing age of 47 in 1963, actress Marion Cotillard delivers such a galvanizing, spend-it-all performance that the character wins your heart as she tests it, toys with it and breaks it. (M.S.) PG-13 140 minutes B+

License to Wed -- stars Robin Williams as a priest who forces soon-to-be-newlyweds Mandy Moore and John Krasinski to pass an emotionally sadistic wedding-preparation course before exchanging their vows. In a film that's an early favorite for worst comedy of the year, Williams completes his descent from innovative comic to cringe-inducing self-parody. (C.K.) PG-13 90 minutes D


Live Free or Die Hard, -- with Bruce Willis' John McClane going up against a demented computer hacker looking to bring this country to its knees by mucking up our infrastructure, is top-notch escapist entertainment. Lots of stuff gets blown up; lots of bad guys do bad things; lots of chances come for McClane to laugh in the face of death just one more time. But Willis' wiseacre Jersey attitude has vanished. McClane is still a New York cop, but he's an old, embittered New York cop. He'll still do the job, still play the reluctant hero, but there's no spring in his step. That may be a realistic portrait of the character; with all McClane has been through, it's understandable he's no longer the life of the party. But somebody in this film needs to be. (C.K.) PG-13 130 minutes B

Ocean's Thirteen -- is about a group of high-class thieves and con men who get together in Vegas to enact revenge on the high-profile casino owner who double-crossed one of their friends. Fans of Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve know what to expect. The rest of us, except for those blinded by the collective star power onscreen, may wanna pass. (C.K.) PG-13 120 minutes C+

Ratatouille -- is a sublime dish of a movie: the piece de resistance among Pixar's animated cartoon features. A rat who is a gourmet genius teams with a kitchen cleanup-boy to save a legendary Parisian restaurant. Shakespeare said, "Music is the food of love," but in this movie food is the food of love. And, boy oh boy, does writer-director Brad Bird's play on, or, rather, cook away. This picture makes your eyes tear with laughter and emotion and your mouth water. (M.S.) G 110 minutes A+

Sicko -- Michael Moore's documentary attack on the American health care industry is infuriating and funny, forging a disturbing diagram from the avarice and chaos of a slapdash, heartless system. For once, Moore's anarchic comic bent and his political sympathies appear to be completely in sync. Even his most far-out salvos hit the bulls-eye. (M.S.) PG-13 123 minutes A-

Talk to Me -- Washington broadcast personality Ralph Waldo "Petey" Greene Jr. (Don Cheadle) forges a turbulent partnership and friendship with WOL-AM program manager Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor). The movie spills over with a musical energy that makes even familiar scenes jiggle and bounce. And Cheadle is astonishing. (M.S.) R 118 minutes B+

Transformers, -- an action flick about good vs. bad alien robots carrying their squabble to Earth, has so much going for it - namely, the supremely cool spectacle of watching cars and trucks rearrange themselves into giant robots - that its very real problems are easy to overlook. It stars a game Shia LaBeouf, working overtime to pump personality into his role as the Earthling who unknowingly holds the key to everything. (C.K.) PG-13 140 minutes B


Waitress -- Keri Russell is magical as a working woman with a baby on the way and a genius for making pies. It's partly a romantic comedy-drama and partly an inspired riff on artistic temperament. (M.S.) PG-13 107 minutes A-