Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Social Network” was a box office hit!

By Jay Bobbin
Tribune Media Services

STARTING THIS WEEK: "THE SOCIAL NETWORK": One of the best-reviewed movies of 2010, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's superb drama recalls the roots of Facebook through the personal experiences that prompted then-college student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg, in an excellent, complex performance) to develop what morphed into the wildly popular website. Its growing pains were considerable, though. Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Josh Pence, Joseph Mazzello and Brenda Song also are in the sterling cast. DVD extras: audio commentary by Fincher and Sorkin. **** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

"PIRANHA 3-D": It'll be three-dimensional at home only if you have the proper Blu-ray equipment, but even minus that added depth, you'll pretty much get the intended effect of this update of a cult horror classic. The picture has a remarkably good cast for a movie of this nature, led by Elisabeth Shue as the sheriff a resort area where residents and vacationers alike become targets of lots of you-know-what. An undersea quake sets loose the sharp-toothed, ever-hungry fish, and plenty of gore results. Richard Dreyfuss does a clever take on his "Jaws" role. Jerry O'Connell, Ving Rhames and Christopher Lloyd also are in the cast, as are CW series regulars Jessica Szohr ("Gossip Girl") and Steven R. McQueen ("The Vampire Diaries"). DVD extras: five "making-of" documentaries; audio commentary by director Alexandre Aja. *** (R: AS, N, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray)

"THE SWITCH": Unrequited love takes an unusual turn in this would-be comedy teaming Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman. She's an unmarried woman who wants to have a child, and he's the longtime friend for whom he secretly pines. He manages to switch his sperm with that of the intended donor. The latter half of the film, which advances several years and isn't quite as jokey, plays better than the first. Juliette Lewis and recent "Morning Glory" co-stars Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum also appear. ** (PG-13: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

"ALPHA AND OMEGA": They may belong to the same pack, but that's about all that two wolves have in common in this animated feature originally shown in 3-D. Hayden Panettiere ("Heroes") and Justin Long voice the characters, whose dissimilarities are evident as they try to return to their own turf after being shipped off to an Idaho park. Even if they do make it back, their troubles might not be over, due to their pack's social pecking order. Danny Glover, Christina Ricci and Dennis Hopper also are heard. DVD extras: "making-of" documentaries; deleted scene; trivia; game. ** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)

"THE FREEBIE": A regular on the FX series "The League," Katie Aselton is the driving force of this comedy as its director and female star, as well as one of its executive producers. She and Dax Shepard ("Parenthood") play a longtime couple who decide their relationship could use some freshening, so they give each other a free pass for a night to do whatever they want ... with whomever they choose. That might seem like a good idea at the time, but it's anyone's guess where it may lead. *** (R: AS, P)

"HOT IN CLEVELAND: SEASON ONE": About to start its second round on TV Land, this sitcom proved to be a big hit for the nostalgia-driven network last year. And why not? It has several veterans of long-running series - Valerie Bertinelli ("One Day at a Time"), Jane Leeves ("Frasier") and Wendie Malick ("Just Shoot Me!") - as vacationing friends whose plane is rerouted to Cleveland, where they impulsively decide to remain. The show also has today's ultimate secret weapon for media success: Betty White, playing the sassy (of course) caretaker of the trio's new home. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

COMING SOON: "BURIED" (Jan. 18): While on a job in Iraq, an American contractor (Ryan Reynolds) is kidnapped, buried alive and left to die by foreign assailants. (R: AS, P, V)

"STONE" (Jan. 18): Robert De Niro stars as a parole officer tempted by the wife (Milla Jovovich) of a convict (Edward Norton) - part of the married couple's scheme to secure the husband's release early. (R: AS, P, V)

"TAKERS" (Jan. 18): A no-nonsense policeman (Matt Dillon) tails a slick bank-robbery gang. Idris Elba, Hayden Christensen and music star Chris Brown also appear. (PG-13: AS, N, P, V)

"SECRETARIAT" (Jan. 25): Diane Lane stars as the owner whose belief in one horse helped both of them defy the skepticism of others. John Malkovich also stars. (PG: P)

"CONVICTION" (Feb. 1): Hilary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, who spent years educating herself in the law to get her wrongly convicted brother (Sam Rockwell) released, in this true story. (R: AS, P, V)

"LET ME IN" (Feb. 1): A young vampire (Chloe Grace Moretz) becomes the protector of a harassed new friend (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in this revision of the Swedish thriller "Let the Right One In." (R: AS, P, GV)

FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.




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