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Percy Jackson & The Olyimpians: The Lightning Thief Review

To say this film has heavy echoes of Harry Potter is an understatement.

Although, the Greek-gods premise lets the filmmakers indulge in some visually whizzy sequences that keep this rather lightweight action movie entertaining.

Percy (Lerman) is a New York teen whose mother (Keener) has never told him that his father is the god Poseidon (McKidd) and his best pal Grover (Jackson) is actually a protector satyr. When Zeus (Bean) discovers that his lightning bolt has been stolen, he blames Percy. So Percy has to learn quickly who he is so he can find the lightning thief and restore peace to feuding brothers Poseidon, Zeus and Hades (Coogan). In addition to Grover, he gets help from a professor-centaur (Brosnan) and his fellow demigod Annabeth (Daddario).

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Mrs. Doubtfire Review

What was the last Robin Williams comedy that anyone was excited about? Williams wore out his welcome about the time he and pal Billy Crystal made the unbearable Father's Day in 1997. About Williams in that movie, Robert Ebert expressed it best: "He's getting to be like the goofy uncle who knows one corny parlor trick and insists on performing it at every family gathering."

When Williams was good--let's say 1982 to 1994 -- the results were oftentimes spectacular, such as 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire, when his cleverness and comic timing transcended the saccharine boundaries of the typical family film and made it legitimately funny. For younger readers looking for a relatively contemporary comparison, Will Ferrell did the same thing in Elf.

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Jingle All The Way Review

Jingle All the Way, the Christmas-themed 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy, is ideal for kids because it's broad and silly. As for the adults watching, they should make sure their eggnog contains a little extra rum. I understand that the movie is for kids -- after all, Christmas is the ultimate kids' holiday -- but can the adults have some fun? For director Brian Levant the answer is no, meaning any viewer over the age of 10 is in for some rough sledding.

For the movie's hero, Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger), his current situation is slightly less trying. A workaholic, Howard has become a lousy husband and father, missing a series of obligations and special events. His young son, Jamie (Jake Lloyd), takes Howard's absences especially hard.

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Monkeybone Review

Despite Fox's attempts to market this film on the coattails of director Henry Selick's success with Tim Burton vehicle The Nightmare Before Christmas, be thou not fooled. Monkeybone bears none of the charm or character of its predecessor. The story of a cartoonist (Brendan Fraser) who falls into a coma and enters a world where the star he created, Monkeybone (who is -- get this -- both a monkey and a metaphor for the cartoonist's own penis), this film lacks as much in the way of creative inspiration as it does in taste.

It's not that the unending stream of preschoolish fart and pecker jokes are offensive, they're just tiresome and invariably expected. And they persist, from the opening scene to the entirely unsurprising conclusion. Fortunately, though, the film has some subplots. Unfortunately, they're absolutely senseless.

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Fantastic Four Review

Fantastic? Not exactly, but Tim Story's take on Marvel Comic's first family of superheroes can be fun if your expectations are low enough.

This summer's second superhero saga, Fantastic Four explains how five members of a planned space expedition face exposure to a cosmic storm that alters each person's DNA, giving them unique powers. Brilliant scientist Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) initiates the mission, which is bankrolled by his longtime rival Victor Von Doom (Julian McMahon). They are accompanied by Reed's buddy Ben Grimm (Michael Chiklis), Victor's director of genetic research; Sue Storm (Jessica Alba); and her cocky pilot brother, Johnny (Chris Evans).

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Christmas With The Kranks Review

Like the honey-glazed ham around which so much of its story sadly revolves, Christmas with the Kranks is tasty at first but soon congeals into little more than a fatty, gelatinous mess. Based on one of John Grisham's bestsellers that isn't about lawyers, Skipping Christmas, the film features the fine directing talents of Joe Roth (America's Sweethearts) and a script by Chris Columbus, who apparently, now that he's done with the Harry Potter series, can go back to cranking out family-friendly pabulum.

The promising premise has Luther and Nora Krank, a couple of parents who have just sent their daughter Blair off to the Peace Corps in Peru, faced with a holiday season alone in their suburban Chicago home. Not exactly relishing the prospect of once again throwing the big Christmas Eve party, and basically just fed up with the whole guilt-induced consumer frenzy, Luther (Tim Allen) convinces Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) to chuck the whole thing and spend 10 days on a Caribbean cruise instead. He also boycotts everything to do with the holiday, not buying or receiving any presents and taking no part in the neighborhood gatherings and decorations. Nora goes along reluctantly until the neighbors notice what's happening and turn on the Kranks in a campaign of condemnation and isolation that seems like something out of The Lottery. That is, before a convenient plot wrinkle ensures everyone will have to pull together and enjoy some holiday spirit.

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Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban Review

Well folks, it's another year at Hogwarts Academy (two years in real life), and our rapidly maturing stars are back for another round of magical high jinks and mass merchandising in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Harry's been absent since the fall of 2002, and even casual viewers will notice that a lot has changed over the last two years. Director Chris Columbus (who did the first two films) is out, replaced with the controversial Alfonso Cuarón, who last hit the scene with the teen sex romp Y Tu Mamá También.

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Stepmom Review

One of the worst atrocities of American cinema in recent memory, here we get a one-two punch from two women (Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts) who really should have known better. The setup: Ed Harris is leaving his dried-up wife for a younger dish (see if you can guess who plays who), but mom won't leave well enough alone after she discovers stepmom is incompetent. A cancer diagnosis ensues, but there'll be lots of singing and cleansing tears before the funeral. Shiver. Just thinking about this story makes us throw up in our mouths a little bit. Chris Columbus's most notorious work.

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