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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro | PG-13 |


You don’t need to be a genius to know that popping a pill that unlocks all of your brainpower is a terrible idea. Failing writer Eddie (Cooper) isn’t that smart-but he’s about to get a lot smarter. When he gets his hands on a stash of not-exactly-FDA-approved superdrug NZT, it makes colors sing and turns synapses into fireworks. Suddenly he’s the smartest guy in the room, generating a bestseller, millions of dollars and attempts on his life. (He didn’t see that last part coming.) Of course there are junkies after his stash, which puts his girlfriend (Cornish) in danger and threatens his business dealings with a tycoon (De Niro). We all know where this is headed, right? Actually, no. Limitless, though far from perfect, takes some surprising turns that end up being very smart indeed.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy | R |


Shady shark Mick Haller (McConaughey) has friends in low places, so he may be out of his depth with his rich new client, Louis Roulet (Phillippe). Roulet claims he was set up by a prostitute-a seemingly routine case that soon dismantles Haller’s life. That’s good, because we need to be reminded that McConaughey can really act. While the plot (based on Michael Connelly’s book) is standard issue for fans of crime drama, McConaughey’s performance is bracing.

Win Win

Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Alex Shaffer | R |


What an apt title for this Sundance hit. Giamatti again proves he’s the best everyman in the biz as Mike, a lawyer who bends principle to profit off an elderly client, then takes in the old man’s grandson (affecting newcomer Shaffer). Ryan is flawless as Mike’s wife, while Bobby Cannavale is hilarious as his buddy. Curiously, Win Win is heavier than it looks-and funnier.


Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig | R |



After seeing its trailer aimed at the toilet-humor set, I had about as much hope for Paul as I did for hitching a ride home on a UFO. But this E.T.-meets-The Hangover romp about two aging comic book nerds (the hilarious Frost and Pegg) who find a real alien made me a believer. The f-bombs abound, but so do subtler laughs and clever nods to sci-fi classics. And while he may be computer-animated, the beer-loving Paul himself is so human that he gives the whole film heart.