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Picks and Pans Main: Movies

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Our Idiot Brother

Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer | R |

COMEDY

Rudd’s last summer comedy, Dinner for Schmucks, was such a mess that it was easy to overlook its critical flaw: Rudd was miscast as a suit, when he’s clearly an awesome schmuck. Let me explain. Rudd always has seemed like the swellest of dudes, and as hippie farmer Ned, a lovable stumblebum with no filter between his brain and his mouth, he finally gets to play to his strength. After serving time for selling pot to a cop (in uniform!), Ned upends the lives of his more scrupulous sisters, frazzled Earth mother Liz (Mortimer), kooky Natalie (Deschanel) and careerist Miranda (Banks). It’s not a terribly original plot, and the ending feels egregiously tacked-on, but the actors are so funny and Rudd is so sweet that you’ll leave feeling pretty high on humanity.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison | R |

HORROR

What a strange hybrid-a funny horror movie with scares in all the right places and laughs for all the wrong reasons. Don’t Be Afraid gets its pedigree from the 1973 original, about a creepy house infested with demon critters, but makes a child, Sally (Madison), the intended victim. The whispering, bone-munching ghouls are equal parts spooky and silly, and it’s ridiculous how long Sally’s dad, Alex (Pearce), ignores the pleas of his daughter and his girlfriend Kim (Holmes) to flee. Still, there are real frights in the Dark.