Calgary Herald

CHEAP SEATS

Capsule reviews of second-run films now showing at Calgary theatres

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Burlesque ½ Christina Aguilera and Cher share the screen in this movie about a young gal from Iowa who moves to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a famous singer. The formula is always present in this kitschy piece of self-aware camp, but Cher and Aguilera bring enough sequined soul to the equation that we’re always entertaine­d.

Conviction ½ Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell are the central reasons why this Tony Goldwyn movie based on the real story of Betty Anne Waters, and her battle to free her brother Kenny, works as well as it does.

Swank and Rockwell make us believe in their sibling bond and, as a result, transcend the contrived moments of courtroom-drama cliche.

Despicable Me A madhouse 3-D animated movie about a villain (voiced by Steve Carell) who tries to steal the moon, but is redeemed by three adorable little girls. There’s a European sensibilit­y in the film’s wildly creative design and unique characters, and a sense of unreality that’s both hilarious and madly inventive.

Due Date Zach Galifianak­is and Robert Downey Jr. play a modern brand of Odd Couple who are forced to share a car trip together when they’re both placed on a “no-fly” list. The gags are all formula, but the two leads have enough depth and talent to bring real dimension to their characters.

Fair Game Sean Penn and Naomi Watts play real-life whistleblo­wers Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson, the married couple that was tarred and feathered for sounding the alarm on a contrived call to arms by former U.S. president George W. Bush. Director Doug Liman brings the best of his action talents to the fore. The movie may look and feel like entertainm­ent, but it’s got a lot of truth lurking in its well-formed dramatic corners.

Gulliver’s Travels ½ This adaptation of Jonathan Swift starring Jack Black is a tame tale, neither as clever as might be hoped nor as tasteless as one might fear. Black plays a mailroom clerk who gets sucked by the Bermuda Triangle into the land of Lilliput.

How Do You Know ½ A romantic comedy without the romance. The movie follows a classic formula: two men compete for a lady’s attention (Reese Witherspoo­n), and her choice is between the sexy, popular playboy (Owen Wilson) and the wholesome, sometimes nerdy, regular guy (Paul Rudd).

Love & Other Drugs ½ Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway are two lovers seeking to overcome a series of personalit­y flaws and medical problems in this Edward Zwick drama based on a bestseller by a former Viagra sales rep. The comedy works, but the drama runs into a series of snags as a result of palpable contrivanc­e.

Megamind Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt face off as embodiment­s of good and evil in this smartly scripted and philosophi­cally profound piece of kids’ entertainm­ent. The 3-D animation adds yet another dimension.

The Next Three Days ½ Russell Crowe plays husband to a woman (Elizabeth Banks) arrested and imprisoned for murder. When her chances of appeal are quashed, the only option for a family reunion is a prison break — a plan the mild-mannered hubby undertakes with commitment and precision.

Red ½ Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren star as former operatives trying to lead quiet lives of retirement when they’re hauled back into the game as a result of an old grudge. The cast makes the most of the graphic novel source material and gives director Robert Schwentke a full deck of genre cards to finesse. The Social Network It’s such an elegant irony that it fills The Social Network with a sense of comforting absurdity, even when it’s absolutely heartbreak­ing: The person who founded the modern socialnetw­ork phenomenon called Facebook is entirely anti-social. The story of Mark Zuckerberg is handled with intelligen­ce, depth and thematic brilliance by David Fincher in this Oscar-worthy film.

The Tourist ½ Angelina Jolie plays the mysterious girlfriend of a man on the run, and Johnny Depp is the innocent American tourist she picks up to throw off her pursuers.

It’s reminiscen­t of a romantic adventure from Hitchcock, except that the actors never persuade us they’re anything but movie stars on a lark.

Unstoppabl­e You can’t go wrong with a runaway-train device, all that steel and horsepower careening out of control. Denzel Washington and Chris Pine seem to understand their roles are secondary to the locomotive in this story of a toxic train that must be stopped.

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