June 27, 2008

Abigail Breslin Delights in Definitely Maybe ; Times Gone By

The whimsical Definitely Maybe (Universal, $29.98) twirls on a romantic mystery as an about-to-be-divorced father spins a twisty tale for his 10-year-old daughter in which she tries to figure out which of the several women in his life turned out to be her mother.

He disguises the names of all the women he has loved so she -- and we -- must wait until the end of his story to discover the true identity of her mom. There's the blond beauty he left behind in Wisconsin to join the 1992 Clinton presidential campaign in New York; the free-spirited vagabond who cares nothing for politics; the sophisticated bohemian who hangs out with a famous author.

Ryan Reynolds and precocious Abigail Breslin play the endearing father-daughter team in this underappreciated romantic comedy.

There are mammoth adventures galore in the rousing prehistoric love story 10,000 B.C. (Warner, $28.98), a real old-fashioned (10,000 years of old-fashioned, in fact) "popcorn" movie.

Steven Strait plays D'Leh, who sets out to rescue his kidnapped sweetheart Evolet (Camilla Belle) from raiders from a rival tribe. Along the way there's a mammoth hunt, an attack by giant ostrich- like creatures, a saber-toothed tiger, a trek across a parched desert, an ancient civilization ruled by a self-proclaimed god who has enslaved tens of thousands to construct his giant stone mausoleum.

Much of this is colorful hokum, yet the hair-raising adventures turn into a wild ride run at breakneck speed. For a more realistic look at what life was like 10,000 years ago, there's Journey to 10,000 B.C. (A&E, $19.95) which employs computer graphics, scientific inquiry and field research to tell its story.

Elves, sprites and goblins

All manner of otherworldly characters inhabit The Spiderwick Chronicles (Paramount, $29.99), a fantasy-adventure in which three siblings discover a weird parallel world when they move into a creepy old Victorian house in the middle of nowhere.

Elves, sprites, fairies, bad goblins, a friendly hobgoblin, a towering griffin that can fly three children on its back, a shape- shifting ogre, a 125-year-old genius and a magical book that everyone wants are the ingredients. The book is Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You and the three children who move into the creaky old manse soon discover it, but find that an ogre who has been searching for it for 80 years is eager to have it too so he can unlock the secrets for gaining unlimited powers.

The film's nonstop adventures are coupled with the real world in which the three Grace children and their recently abandoned mother try to keep their family together. The film remains faithful to the books by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, which are certain to gain new readers who see the film.

On roller skates

Following her smashing success in Grease, Olivia Newton-John's fledgling film career was all but cut down by Xanadu in which she plays a muse sent from the Other World to help a struggling artist open a roller-disco. Although almost universally panned by critics and audiences alike, the 1980 film nevertheless had enough fans to encourage producers to stage a recent Broadway musical version.

There are some lively musical numbers, some featuring John and co- star Gene Kelly on roller skates. Kelly, in one of his final big- screen roles, plays the owner of a defunct roller skating rink that everyone is trying to revive.

The real star of the film was the music by the Electric Light Orchestra, including the title song and "Magic,""Suddenly,""I'm Alive" and "All Over the World." One of the two discs in Xanadu -- Magical Music Edition (Universal, $19.98) is a CD containing songs from the movie's soundtrack.

In Belgium

Even if you're tired of movies about hit men, In Bruges (Universal, $29.98), a witty and violent story from writer-director Martin McDonagh, works because of the interaction between Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. The Irish actors co-star as gangsters who've been ordered by their scary boss (Ralph Fiennes) to lay low in the medieval Belgium city of Bruges after a hit goes terribly wrong. Bonus features include deleted scenes, a gag reel, and four documentaries that explore the making of the movie in picturesque, canal-filled Bruges.

Also this week

A young woman recalls her problems growing up in fundamentalist Iran in the animated Oscar-nominee Persepolis (Sony, $29.95); a French libertine returns to his rascally ways 38 years later in the sequel to Belle de Jour, Belle Toujours (New Yorker, $29.95); Danny Glover plays a man trying to keep his nightclub open in 1950 Alabama in Honeydripper (Screen Media, $27.98); a teen at a new school discovers he can win friends by playing psychiatrist and dispensing drugs in Charlie Bartlett (MGM, $27.98); an American tattoo artist runs into trouble when he steals a sacred Samoan artifact in The Tattooist (Sony, $24.94); four thrill seekers party at a creepy desert ranch in Death Valley (Allumination, $29.98); discover what happened prior to Jane Eyre in the prequel Wide Sargasso Sea (Acorn, $24.99); a planet-sized creature with billions of probing tentacles is at the heart of an unusual love story in the second sci-fi TV cartoon from Simpsons creator Matt Groening in Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs (Fox, $29.98); the lives and friendships of three best friends is tested in Bonneville (Fox, $27.98); a woman desperate for love destroys those who disappoint her in Nobody Loves Alice (Indie-Pictures, $24.95); a middle-aged boxing instructor yearns for better things in The Hammer (Genius, $29.97); Koreans try to make psychic contact with the spirit world in The Eye 3 (Lionsgate, $26.98); a young couple soon are sorry they check into The Lodge (Monarch, $24.95); a young man tries to find the owner of a severed finger in Careless (Image, $27.98).

From TV

Back for more on your home screen are: Early Edition: The First Season (CBS/Paramount, $46.99); My Boys: The Complete First Season (Sony, $39.98); The Vice -- Season Two (MPI, $49.98); The Big Easy - - The Complete First Season (MPI, $39.98); I Bet You: Season 1 (Infinity, $24.98); The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Set 3 (Acorn, $49.99).

For children

Have some fun with: Elmo's World: Summer Vacation (Genius, $12.93); Tak and the Power of JuJu: The Trouble With Magic (Nick Jr./ Paramount, $16.99); Scholastic Storybook Treasures -- The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Scholastic, $14.95); The Lampies: Dustywuppy (Porch Light, $14.98) or The Lampies: Bikey (Porch Light, $9.98); Loopdidoo (Porch Light, $14.98).


Dig for secrets in Where Is Jimmy Hoffa? (MPI, $14.98); the life of mobster Bugsy Siegel is explored in Don't Call Me Bugsy (MPI, $14.98); the devastating Allied air war on Nazi Germany is debated in Firestorm (First Run Features, $24.95).

With Journal Wire Reports



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