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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011

Movie reviews: 6-30

Summaries are condensed from Blade reviews and reflect the theater schedule starting Friday. Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (best) to Bomb (worst). The reviewer's name, movie running time, and abbreviations of the theaters where the movie is playing are at the end of each summary.

Bad Teacher. Cameron Diaz gets in touch with her bad side in this raunchy comedy about an alcoholic, drug-using party animal who's marking time as a teacher as she tries to snare a wealthy husband. Diaz is funny, but she can't erase the movie's slow spots or uneven tone. R ** 1/2 89 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Bridesmaids. Judd Apatow produced this comedy strictly to his formula of the outsider with a good heart who faces big obstacles on her way to happiness. In this case, the outsider is Kristen Wiig, who plays one of five bridesmaids trying to plan the perfect wedding for their friend (Maya Rudolph). Unfortunately, the film is only sporadically funny. R ** 1/2 125 min. (Baird) (FP, FT)

Cars 2. Lightning McQueen heads to the first-ever World Grand Prix race. On the way, his best friend, the tow truck Mater, is mistaken for a secret agent. Though by no mean a wreck, this Pixar sequel is a disappointment, putting the spotlight on Mater as a country bumpkin bumbling his way through a sophisticated world. G ** 113 min. (Baird) (Fox, FP, FT, LC, SDI)

Fast Five. It offers one of the better car-chase sequences in recent memory, as well as one of the more implausible, so leave logic at home and roll with what this latest Fast and Furious sequel gives you. Fugitives Dominic (Vin Diesel) and O'Conner (Paul Walker) team up with a specialized crew to steal millions from a ruthless crime lord in Rio de Janerio. Dwayne Johnson is the U.S. superagent sent south to bring the pair back to justice. PG-13 *** 130 minutes. (Baird) (MIT)

Green Lantern. Ryan Reynolds is a cocky test pilot who is recruited to join a galactic police force known as the Green Lanterns. Once part of the corps, he must stop an evil force known as Parallax, which feeds on fear. Reynolds is the perfect choice to play Green Lantern, though the film bottles up much of his smart-aleck charm. Other problems: The story is a mess, the CGI unconvincing, and some big-name actors are wasted, including Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett. PG-13 ** 105 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Hangover II. Once again, four friends (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Justin Bartha) prepare to celebrate the nuptials of one of the gang, this time in Thailand. But the morning after the bachelor party, they can't remember a thing about what happened the night before. Sound familiar? It should. The only real surprise in the movie is how warmed over everything feels, including a plot without an ounce of originality in it. R * 101 min. (Baird) (Fox)

Midnight in Paris. Woody Allen's romantic comedy is a tale of Americans who travel to Paris for business and have their lives transformed by the magical city. With an appealing cast, it is Allen's warmest, mellowest, and funniest venture in far too long. PG-13 **** 94 min. (Wire review) (FP, LC)

Mr. Popper's Penguins. Jim Carrey stars in this adaptation of the 1939 Newbery Award-winning children's book about a businessman who has lost sight of the important things in life. When he inherits six penguins, they turn his swanky New York apartment into a winter wonderland and the rest of his life upside-down. The film is little more than another slice off a very stale loaf, but it's earnest, benign, and sometimes funny. PG ** 95 min. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC, SDI)

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The fourth voyage of the successful franchise ditches the cumbersome subplots and overwrought CGI in favor of a more streamlined story and lighter tone. Johnny Depp returns as Capt. Jack Sparrow, this time leading a search for the fabled Fountain of Youth. Among the searchers are the pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Penelope Cruz). PG-13 *** 1/2 137 min. (Baird) (FP, FT)

Something Borrowed. After a night of too much partying, a lonely-hearts attorney (Ginnifer Goodwin) gets lucky with the guy she's had a crush on since college (Colin Egglesfield). The only problem: He's engaged to marry her best friend (Kate Hudson). The characters are so ill-defined or unlikable, it's hard to care whether they get out of this tricky situation. PG-13 * 1/2 103 minutes. (Wire review) (MIT)

Source Code. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as a man who wakes up on a passenger train eight minutes before a terrorist bomb goes off, killing everyone aboard. Through the use of new anti-terrorist technology, he must relive those eight minutes again and again, until he can stop the attack. This bullet train of a thriller keeps audiences consistently confused and off-guard from the start. PG-13 **** 94 minutes. (Wire review) (MIT)

Super 8. This monster movie masquerading as an early Steven Spielberg work is set in 1979, when a train wreck lets something mysterious loose on the fictional town of Lillian, Ohio. First the military shows up to investigate the accident, then residents begin to vanish, leaving a group of teens who filmed the wreck scrambling to uncover the truth. Writer-director J.J. Abrams is a gifted storyteller, but he's no Spielberg (who produced), and Super 8 lacks the magic of classics such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. PG-13 ** 112 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC, SDI)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Shia LaBeouf again stars in and Michael Bay directs the third Transformers film, and shock of shocks, it's fun. There are enough holes in logic and plot to drive an Autobot through, and dialogue is meaningless, but the movie delivers where it counts -- action and effects -- and is unrelenting in its goal to be this summer's biggest, baddest crowd-pleaser. PG-13 *** 1/2 157 min. (Baird) (Fox, FP, FT, LC, SDI)

Water for Elephants. During the Great Depression, a veterinary student (Robert Pattinson) lands a job treating animals in a traveling circus, then falls in love with the wife (Reese Witherspoon) of the circus' owner (Christoph Walz). This adaptation of Sara Gruen's 2006 best seller balances the colorful glitz of a three-ring spectacle with the atmospheric realism that a rich drama demands. The sideline characters are hokey stereotypes, but the main trio is well-developed. PG-13 *** 1/2 122 minutes (Wire review) (MIT)

X-Men: First Class successfully reboots the franchise with an origins story set in the early 1960s of friends-turned-rivals Professor X and Magneto when they were still known as Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Eric Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender). The pair lead a young team of mutants against a villainous band led by the powerful mutant Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon). Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) assembles a strong cast and a pretty good script, with Brian Singer welcomed back as the franchise's guiding force. PG-13 *** 1/2 132 min. (Baird) (Fox, FP, FT)



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