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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Dinner for Schmucks

Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis | PG-13 |


So who’s the schmuck, exactly? Because ostensibly it’s Barry (Carell), whose joy in life is making (admittedly awesome) taxidermied mice dioramas called “mousterpieces” and attaching himself like a barnacle to anyone who makes eye contact. But the schmuck could just as easily be Tim (Rudd), a go-getter at his firm who runs into Barry and thinks he’d be perfect for his boss’s idiot-themed soiree. So maybe Tim gets what he deserves when his apartment, car and relationship are all trashed-thanks to Barry, who somehow manages to be both horrifically destructive and sincerely well-meaning. There are other schmuck candidates, though: The horndog artist (a hilariously deadpan Jemaine Clement) trying to steal Tim’s girlfriend; the inane “mind reader” (Galifianakis) in Barry’s office; or the meanies from Tim’s firm who laugh at Barry in the film’s only solidly funny scene, the dinner itself. But therein lies the problem, because laughing at Barry and his schmucky cohorts is kind of the point. It’s what the audience is supposed to do. So you know what that makes us, right?

Charlie St. Cloud

Zac Efron, Charlie Tahan, Amanda Crew| PG-13 |



Zac Efron has two hurdles between him and a serious Hollywood career: his goofy High School Musical roots and his dazzling good looks. Like the handsomeness of heartthrobs before him (think Redford or Pitt), Efron’s can distract from the fact that he actually can act. As Charlie, grief-stricken after a car crash kills his kid brother (Tahan), Efron gets many opportunities to emote, and his chemistry with a girl sailor (Crew) is sweetly sexy. But Efron isn’t well served by the sappy script, which tries too hard for weepy status. In addition to the mystery of how Charlie is able to play baseball with his dead brother, why do film greats Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta get only about three minutes of screen time each?

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

James Marsden, Christina Applegate | PG |


Using Shirley Bassey’s genius cover of Pink’s “Get the Party Started” is clue No. 1 that Kitty isn’t just for kiddies. Cats and dogs unite to stop a coup by Kitty (Bette Midler), and great voice work from Katt Williams and Sean Hayes (Mr. Tinkles!) really sells it.


How does Salt’s Angelina Jolie stack up to accused Russian spy Anna Chapman?

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