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Published: Thursday, 8/11/2011

Movie reviews: 8-11

Summaries are condensed from Blade reviews and reflect the theater schedule starting tomorrow. 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.

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) (MIT)

Captain America: The First Avenger. In what seems to be the 4,937th superhero movie released in recent years, Chris Evans is charisma-free but inoffensive as the 90-pound weakling who benefits from an Army experiment and becomes a muscular WWII-era hero, fighting Nazis and saving the world. The 1940s era is depicted with more care than the action, far too much of which takes place in montage. PG-13 ** 1/2 125 min. (Neman) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

The Change-Up: After a night of drinking, family guy Mitch (Jason Bateman) magically switches bodies with his longtime friend Dave (Ryan Reynolds), a single hedonist. As the guys experience the realities of each other's lives, they work on a way to get their old ones back. R 112 min.(Wire review) (FP, FT, LC, SDI)

Cowboys & Aliens: This graphic novel adaptation from director Jon Favreau can't decide if it's a Western or a sci-fi action-adventure. So it settles for something in the middle, doing no justice to either genre. Daniel Craig is miscast as a bad-boy hero who leads a group of overmatched cowboys and Indians against a band of technologically superior aliens who are abducting and killing humans during the Wild West. As a villainous cattle baron, Harrison Ford has fun playing against type, but that's about all the fun to be had in this bland, boring, and illogical misfire. PG-13 ** 125 min. (Baird) 118 min. (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

Crazy, Stupid, Love: Steve Carell plays a happily married Cal, whose world unravels when he finds out his high-school-sweetheart wife (Julianne Moore) wants a divorce. The comedy hits a bulls-eye with a plot that's romantic, touching, a little risque, and reassuringly down-to-earth. PG-13 **** 118 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Friends with Benefits: In what is the romantic delight of the summer, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis play buddies who think it's going to be easy to add sex to their friendship. Though written to formula, the fillm is filled with snappy, rapid-fire banter and likable characters. R *** 1/2 120 min. (Wire review) (FP, 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) (MIT)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Dark and melancholy, the film sees J.K. Rowling's literary creation grown up and in the battle of his life against the evil Lord Voldemort. We know the cast well by now, having watched Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione), and Rupert Grint (Ron) mature on the big screen. Director David Yates, back for his fourth Potter film, doesn't let them or us down. The movie starts slow, but works itself into an emotional, thrilling, and completely satisfying finale. PG-13 **** 130 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

The Help: Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, a southern society girl returns from college determined to become a writer, but she turns her friends' lives -- and a small Mississippi town -- upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. As it turns out, they have a lot to say. PG-13 *** 1/2 137 min. (Wire review) (FP, FT, LC)

Horrible Bosses: While not the breakout comedy of the summer, Horrible Bosses delivers laughs, along with a foolproof premise of bad people getting theirs and big-name actors ensuring it all works. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day play the put-upon employees who plot the demise of their vile bosses played by Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, and Jennifer Aniston, who steals the movie as a profane and sexually aggressive dentist. R *** 98 min. (Baird) (FP, FT, LC)

Kung Fu Panda 2: The martial-arts bear voiced by Jack Black gets a second installment, pitting Panda and his allies against a villain armed with a weapon capable of destroying kung-fu. This entry aims to expand the series in storytelling terms and visually. It introduces emotionally complex issues and adds new scope via 3-D. In each case, the payoff is impressive. PG **** 91 min. (Wire review) (MIT)

Larry Crowne: Tom Hanks directed, co-wrote, and stars in this mess of a comedy about a middle-aged guy forced to reinvent himself after a divorce and job layoff. He enrolls in a community college, where he meets an instructor (Julia Roberts) who is merely going through the motions of her job on top of marriage issues of her own. Corny jokes abound, including gags about cell phones, scooters, and Star Trek. PG-13 * 99 minutes. (Baird) (MIT)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: This story about the origins of the film franchise is a reality-based cautionary tale. James Franco plays a scientist who conducts experiments on the intelligence of apes and pushes things a bit too far. The animals suddenly become too smart for mankind's good -- and decide they want to take over. PG-13 *** 1/2 110 min. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC, SDI)

The Smurfs: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, and Hank Azaria share the screen with the computer-animated little blue people, who are chased from their village by the evil Gargamel and wind up in our world -- right in the middle of Central Park. The family-friendly film has brains, heart, and style, which will endear it to adults as well as youngsters. PG *** 86 min. (Wire review) (Fox, FP, FT, LC)

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 holes in logic and plot big enough 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 crowd-pleaser. PG-13 *** 1/2 157 min. (Baird) (FP)

Winnie the Pooh: Disney's latest film revival of A.A. Milne's "willy, nilly, silly old bear" is now a musical, longer on charm than it is on laughs. But it's a treat for children making their first trek to the multiplex and for parents with fond memories of the short films of the 1960s. G *** 104 min. (Wire review) (SDI)

Zookeeper: When an animal-loving caretaker (Kevin James) realizes he's more comfortable in the company of a lion than that of a woman, he decides he must make a career change and quits his beloved job. But the animals at the zoo (voiced by Cher, Adam Sandler, Nick Nolte, and Sylvester Stallone) try to get him to change his mind by teaching him the ways of courtship -- jungle style. James may not make audiences believe animals can talk, but with slapstick and sincerity, he makes the film work anyway. PG ** 104 min. (Wire review) (FT)



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