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Reviews for February 14th, 2008

Definitely, Maybe
- Directed by Adam Brooks.

After the films Yes and No comes Definitely, Maybe. Just kidding. In this somewhat contrived and corny yet sweet romantic comedy, Will (Ryan Reynolds) tells his daughter, Maya (Abigal Breslin), the story of how he met her mom, who he’s in the process of divorcing. To add a little mystery, he doesn’t tell Maya, or the audience, whom among the three women in the story will end up her to be her mom. The choices include: His college girlfriend, Emily (Elizabeth Banks), April (Isla Fisher), who he met while helping the 1992 Clinton campaign, and, finally, Summer (Rachel Weisz), a journalist. Each of the women has different personalities and their own ways of charming Will. April seems to get along with him the most, especially since they laugh a lot together and share some sweet moments. Writer/director Adam Brooks keeps the mystery going, though, as Will goes back and forth between the three women who keep popping up in his life when he least expects them to. Some of the scenes with Will’s daughter, Maya, feel a bit corny and forced, especially in the ways she reacts to the story. The act drags a bit, though, with too many headache-inducing twists that mess with your head as you’re trying to figure out who is Maya’s real mom. Although Ryan Reynolds lacks the comic timing to be the new Hugh Grant of romantic comedies, at least he manages to be charming and appealing as a lead which will definitely—or maybe—turn him into a bigger star. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. Entertainment Value: Moderately High. Spiritual Value: Moderate. Released by Universal Pictures.

- Directed by Doug Liman.

David (Hayden Christensen), a “jumper”, has a special power which allows him to teleport himself to anywhere in the world. He must avoid Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), whose agenda is to find and kill jumpers. Through his adventures, David romances his childhood friend, Millie (Rachel Bilson), and tries to hide his special powers from her. Watch for Diane Lane in a brief cameo as David’s mother.. It mainly falters with its awkward mix of comedy, action, fantasy, drama and a very contrived romance. How could Millie be so dumb as to go along with David without noticing his secret power or that he’s acting strangely? Anyway, Hayden Christensen lacks the charisma to make his character memorable in any way—he’s no Toby Maguire, that’s for sure. At least director Doug Liman wisely includes very entertaining action scenes with the impressive-as-always Samuel L. Jackson, who sports a noticeable white hairdo here. As a fast-paced action adventure with plenty of slick visual effects and a somewhat intriguing plot, Jumper manages to be at least a mildly entertaining diversion, as long as you check your brain at the door. Number of times I checked my watch: 2. Entertainment Value: Highly Moderate. Spiritual Value: None is required or desired, as long as you suspend your disbelief and check your brain at the door. Released by 20th Century Fox.

The Spiderwick Chronicles
- Directed by Mark Waters.

Based on the novel by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi. Twin brothers Jared and Simon (both played by Freddie Highmore) move in with their mother (Mary-Louise Parker) and older sister (Sarah Bolger) to the Spiderwick Estate where they discover a special book containing recipes for magical potions which their great uncle Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) wrote 80 years ago. Once they open it, they awaken a hidden world full of goblins, faeries and other magical creatures, such as an evil ogre (voice of Nick Nolte) that wants to the book to destroy everyone and rule the world. Although the story isn’t as exhilarating as in other fantasy action adventures such as the Harry Potter movies, there’s still plenty of fun for everyone thanks to director Mark Waters, who wastes no time to kick in the fantasy elements within the first few minutes. The plot does get a bit complicated as it progresses, but at least it has some surprises up its sleeve, including a few poignant scenes. Think of it as a simplified, less scary version of Pan’s Labyrinth for children. Very young kids might be a bit scared of the menacing ogre, though. Fortunately, there are plenty of awe-inspiring CGI visual effects that make the film worth seeing on the big screen, especially in glorious IMAX. Just don’t try to compare it to the book and suspend your disbelief so that you can sit back and be entertained for 97 fun-filled minutes. Number of times I checked my watch: 0. Entertainment Value: High. Spiritual Value: None is required or desired. Released by Paramount Pictures.

Step Up 2 the Streets
- Directed by John M. Chu.

Andie (Briana Evigan) join the Maryland School for the Arts where she joins a dance team with Chance (Robert Hoffman), who has the hots for her. The dance team challenges an inner city dance crew called “The 410”, which Andie had once belonged to. Of course, there’s a somewhat geeky dancer (Adam G. Sevani) who provides a bit of comic relief and who uncannily looks like a very curly-haired version of Michael Cera from Superbad. Director John M. Chu infuses plenty of crowd-pleasing dance sequences which allow the film to soar with amazingly kinetic cinematography and choreography. Everything else including the derivative, by-the-numbers plot and one-dimensional characters leaves no room for any real surprises and simply feels bland—don’t expect any real chemistry between Andie and Chance. Fans of Channing Tatum, who starred in the first Step Up, will be pleased to know that he does has a brief cameo here. Stay tuned through the end credits for more exciting dance moves. Number of times I checked my watch: 3. Entertainment Value: Moderately High. Spiritual Value: Low. Released by Touchtone Pictures.

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