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Quick Flicks

Capsule reviews of current movies.

"Cars" — Owen Wilson's infectious, good-natured energy permeates Pixar's lighthearted animated movie about Lightning McQueen (Wilson), a rookie competition race car that discovers there's more to life than winning races. When Lightning finds himself waylaid in the dusty town of Radiator Springs on the famous Route 66, he gets a lesson in ethics and personal accountability from the town's locals, voiced by Paul Newman and Bonnie Hunt. While the movie is 20 minutes too long for tykes, it nonetheless endears its colorful car characters to the audience. George Carlin, Michael Keaton and Cheech Marin add their vocal talents to this enjoyable animated automotive spree. (G) 116 min. *** — Cole Smithey

"Click" — Adam Sandler might wish he could find a magic remote control and rewind to the beginning of his career when he won a conspicuous place in the hearts of the Generation X demographic cohort. Though he has managed to cling to this very lucrative perch ever since, this comic-fantasy about just such a remote shows that age has cooled his signature style of boorishness and disengagement from material. In the movie Sandler is able to revisit his past and to fast forward through portions of his life he'd rather not bother with. We, however, have no such luxury and are stuck with the Sandler we've always known. His character is a would-be mix of George Bailey and Scrooge, but he's just a garden-variety jerk: His failings, unlike Scrooge's, aren't interesting, and his virtues, unlike George Bailey's, touch no universal chords. "Click" really ought to make Sandler think about getting his priorities straight, if it's not already too late. (PG-13) 98 min. ** — Thomas Peyser

"The Devil Wears Prada" — A breathless gallop at haute couture fashion culture, "The Devil Wears Prada" is a fish-out-of-water comedy that digresses so often into prolonged music video sequences that you feel like you're watching a movie with commercials included. That materialism experience is unfortunately much of the point of this loose adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's best-selling novel in which a journalist (Anne Hathaway) wins a coveted job as second assistant to the world's most notoriously exacting fashion magazine editor (Meryl Streep). The magazine is patterned after Vogue, whose influential editor Anna Wintour serves as the template for Streep's icy character. Streep carries the film with a disconnected tone for her character that is at once beguiling and disconcerting. (PG-13) 109 min. *** — C.S.

"The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" — The third installment in this franchise employs Tokyo's foreign turf and unconventional racing style, called "drifting," to ignite its misfiring narrative. A reckless leading-man type crashes in a race and is exiled to live with his ex-military dad in Tokyo rather than face jail time in California. The change of venue hardly keeps him away from his racing addiction after he is introduced to Tokyo's underground world of drift racing, wherein modified street cars are used to glide sideways through hairpin turns and switchbacks. The movie continuously stalls and gets jump-started by drift race sequences that lose their novelty. (PG-13) 104 min. ** — C.S.

"Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties" — This live-action animated sequel to "Garfield: The Movie" is a lighthearted pun on Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities" that treads closer to Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper." Bill Murray returns to the franchise to voice the roly-poly orange tabby who meets his royal British doppelg„nger (voiced by the ever-expressive Tim Curry). Garfield's doting master, Jon (Breckin Meyer), has finally gotten up the nerve to propose to his veterinarian girlfriend Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt) just when she leaves for a trip to London. Garfield and Jon's dim-witted dog, Odie, tag along across the pond to break up the engagement before Garfield is mistaken for a royal prince tabby who has just inherited his master's castle, much to the bitter dismay of Lord Dargis (Billy Connolly). "A Tale of Two Kitties" is an entertaining kids' movie that parents won't mind sitting through. (PG) 80 min. *** — C.S.

"The Lake House" — Based on Lee Hyun-seung's South Korean film "Il Mare" (2000), this Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock reunion isn't as bad as its dubious trailer portents, but it suffers terribly from an iffy puzzle device. From a quaint but unique lake house that his father (Christopher Plummer) built, journeyman architect Alex (Reeves) finds himself in a love-letter romance across time with Dr. Kate Forster (Bullock). The lovers exist two years apart, and yet are somehow able to communicate as if they were carrying on an immediate interactive conversation. Split-screen visuals frequently veer drama into comedy as Reeves and Bullock do a commendable job of masking some of the plot's glaring potholes with their intrinsic on-screen chemistry. (PG) 108 min. ** — C.S.

"Superman Returns" — If this new comic-book movie does well, it will validate Warner Bros.' belief that there is but one permanent, invincible Man of Steel: the one that has already made them millions; the one concocted by producer Alexander Salkind and director Richard Donner in 1978. This new version is a mere extension, with a new actor (Brandon Routh) who looks and sounds like Christopher Reeve's version, old footage of Marlon Brandon as father Jor-El, and even the same theme music (not to mention arch villain, introductory credits and squiggle of hair on Kal-El's forehead). As pure action, "Superman Returns" is competent and entertaining if a little corny. But it is also perfunctory and uneventful, and in many cases, unimaginative. Director Bryan Singer and his team are hired guns, brought in to return Superman to its rightful place among action movies. If they succeed, it will be by doing next to nothing. (PG-13) 153 min. *** — W.M.

"X-Men: The Last Stand" — The final chapter of the X-Men trilogy sees a seamless directorial changing of the guard, placing Bryan Singer's beloved cinematic vision of the popular Marvel comic book in the capable hands of Brett Ratner (of the "Rush Hour" franchise). Hugh Jackman returns as Wolverine, leading the charging narrative in which a "cure" for mutants gives birth to a war between Magneto's (Ian McKellen) Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Charles Xavier's (Patrick Stewart) school of mutants. It's an energetic comic book movie with heart and just enough vague social commentary about conformity to balance its outrageous visual sequences of pure spectacle. (PG-13) 104 min. *** — C.S.

"You, Me and Dupree" — As the title character Dupree in this situational comedy, Owen Wilson plays the best friend to newly married Carl (Matt Dillon). Carl and Molly (Kate Hudson) live under the shadow of her overbearing father (Michael Douglas), who happens to be Carl's real-estate tycoon boss. However, ne'er-do-well Dupree casts the longest shadow over the couple's lives when they put him up for a few days while he hunts for a job and a place to stay. A hilarious dinner-table scene with the four main characters spikes the humor level beyond its otherwise predictable limits. Dupree may be a bad guest, but it's Wilson's boyish vibe of innocence that really overstays its welcome. (PG-13) 108 min. ** — C.S. S

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