August 06, 2007 12:00 PM

The Simpsons Movie
Voices by Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner | PG-13 |

ANIMATED

It’s not as if Homer doesn’t issue fair warning. The Simpsons Movie begins with America’s favorite dysfunctional cartoon clan sitting together at a flick. Suddenly the family patriarch rises to voice his disgust. “I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we could see at home on TV for free. Everyone in this theater is a big sucker,” he says. Then he points to the audience (us) and adds, “Especially you!”

Are we suckers to be ponying up to see the Simpsons onscreen when they’ve been in our living rooms for nearly two decades? Yes and no. At a breezy 88 minutes, the film will have you laughing hard and often. And I’m so downloading Homer singing “Spider Pig”—a takeoff on the Spider-Man theme song—which he lovingly croons to his new pet porker. But this tale of how the Simpsons save their hometown from destruction by an evil bureaucrat feels mighty flimsy for an actual movie. Homer, for once, just may be right.

No Reservations
Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin | PG |

ROMANTIC DRAMA

It’s summertime and the living is easy—the perfect time to sit back and uncritically savor the pleasures of a slight confection such as No Reservations. With its appealing cast, bittersweet blend of comedy and poignancy, and heaping potfuls of gourmet cooking advice (“There’s no greater sin than to overcook quail”), what’s not to like? A sweetened-up remake of a tarter German film called Mostly Martha (2001), Reservations is about Kate (Zeta-Jones), a gifted but emotionally closed-off chef at a chic Manhattan boîte. Her all-work lifestyle turns topsy-turvy when she becomes guardian of an orphaned 9-year-old niece (Little Miss Sunshine’s Breslin) and concurrently is wooed by a free-spirited cook (Eckhart) new to her staff. The delectable dishes Kate whips up may be exotic and pricey, but Reservations is the cinematic equivalent of tasty comfort food. And sometimes that’s just what you’re in the mood for.

Arctic Tale
Narrated by Queen Latifah | G|

DOCUMENTARY

Baby polar bears are way cute. Baby walruses are—how to put it nicely?—like fat old men with droopy mustaches. Both are on display, frolicking in the snow and diving off ice floes, in Arctic Tale, a hokey but still fascinating nature documentary that plays like March of the Penguins with a pinch of An Inconvenient Truth thrown in. Kids in particular will enjoy watching little Nanu, a polar cub, and baby Seela, a walrus, grow up. (Note to parents: Carnivorous scenes are all shown in discreet long shots.)

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