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Arrested Development: Season Three Review


Extraordinary
The only real flaw in the third season of Mitch Hurwitz's flat-out brilliant sitcom Arrested Development is its unfortunate abbreviation. Fox delighted the show's fan base with a surprise pickup at the end of its second season, and then, apparently feeling remorseful about appeasing any segment of its audience not interested in American Idol, took it back, as far as they could; season three runs only 13 episodes, rather than the standard 22. Needless to say, there will be no season four.

Of course, this being Arrested Development and all, there are more laughs in those 13 episodes than a lifetime of just about any another live-action show. Hurwitz's show chronicles the twists and turns of the formerly wealthy, currently imperiled (and morally impaired) Bluth family, led by good son Michael (Jason Bateman). The show moves like a soap opera, cramming an hour's worth of bizarre plots into 20 minutes or so. Season three contains the most ambitious story arc of the show's run, wherein lovelorn Michael finds a new relationship with Rita (guest star Charlize Theron, appearing in five of the baker's dozen), a charming English woman harboring a deep secret. You may guess the twist ahead of the climactic revelation, but even if you do, it's just as much fun to notice the many clues that start to seem hilariously obvious.

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Brother Bear Review


OK
Brother Bear is the very Disney tale of a young bear-hating man named Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix) transformed into a bear and embarking on a journey with an orphaned cub. It's beautiful look at, but minor and sort of inert. I don't deny Disney the right to make a minor cartoon now and then (part of the industry's problem is the expectation that every cartoon should be a $200+ million blockbuster), but Brother Bear is oddly thin. Even the gorgeous visuals fade from your head as you leave the theater.

It goes down pleasantly enough as you watch. In fact, Brother Bear is rife with wonderful details. A prologue establishes only that the story takes place "a long time ago"; this allows the artists a certain freedom in their creation of a vaguely North American environment. There are rustling trees, blocks of ice, and swirls of light, all with an unfussy natural flow, not to mention gorgeous colors (it's not for nothing that the frame switches to a wider aspect ratio once the lead character turns into a bear).

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