Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston in Along Came PollyALONG CAME POLLY

There's a pretty funny movie lurking within Along Came Polly, but unfortunately, it bears little relation to the slack and obvious one Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston are stuck in.

Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta GiveSOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE

In Something's Gotta Give, a sixtysomething womanizer, currently dating a twentysomething auctioneer (!), finds himself, for the first time ever, falling in love with a woman roughly his age, and - wouldn't ya know it? - it's his girlfriend's mother! Has there ever been so High a Concept? A forced, jokey premise like this is usually enough to make me hide under my theater seat; it's a situation so nakedly designed to provide good-natured chuckles and muffled sobs that a hardened cynic like me walks into the movie with all defenses immediately up.

Emma Thompson in Love ActuallyLOVE ACTUALLY

If you are to believe the (mostly) glowing responses to Love Actually, writer-director Richard Curtis has compressed material for a half-dozen romantic comedies into one, creating, in the words of one reviewer, "an epic romantic comedy." But that's not exactly accurate. For his first directorial outing, Curtis - the clever, funny screenwriter of Four Weddings & A Funeral and Notting Hill - has apparently decided to take every idea he's ever had, every last one, and blend them into a frothy, holiday-themed confection; it's less an epic romantic comedy than a romantic comedy shaped as an epic (which isn't the same).

Jack Black in The School of RockTHE SCHOOL OF ROCK

I've seen Sidney Poitier do it. I've seen Robin Williams do it. I've seen Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Edward James Olmos ... hell, I've seen Dame Maggie Smith do it. But I have never seen an actor playing The Inspirational Teacher connect with his students as believably, and oddly beautifully, as Jack Black does in The School of Rock.

Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in Freaky FridayFREAKY FRIDAY

Everyone I know has enormous fondness for the 1976 Disney comedy Freaky Friday, wherein mother Barbara Harris and daughter Jodie Foster switched bodies and discovered, on one very strange day, how the other half lived.

The Matrix ReloadedTHE MATRIX RELOADED

"Neo and the rebel leaders estimate that they have 72 hours until 250,000 probes discover Zion and destroy it and its inhabitants. During this, Neo must decide how he can save Trinity from a dark fate in his dreams."

- Plot outline for The Matrix Reloaded, as seen on the Internet Movie Database

Boy, that sure sounds simple, doesn't it?

Laura Linney and Kevin Spacey in The Life of David GaleTHE LIFE OF DAVID GALE

Reading the reviews for Alan Parker's The Life of David Gale, you might assume that it's the most staggeringly offensive cinematic release since Freddy Got Fingered. (Glenn Kenny of Premiere magazine and Roger Ebert gave the film a combined total of zero stars.) And upon realizing that the film in question boasts the considerable acting abilities of Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet, and Laura Linney, not to mention direction by two-time Oscar nominee Alan Parker, you'd have every right to wonder: Can the movie be that god-awful? The short answer is: No, it's not. Parker's film is bad, yes, but it's bad in typical Hollywood fashion, especially for a paranoid thriller; the plot twists are ludicrous, the dialogue, especially when dealing directly with the film's polemic over the death penalty, is clunky, and it's so high on its do-gooder mentality that it comes off as vaguely embarrassing. But despite what you might have read, it's not the work of Lucifer, merely the work of talented individuals acting uncharacteristically like hacks.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck in DaredevilDAREDEVIL

Though he tries mighty hard, Ben Affleck isn't quite able to ruin Daredevil, Mark Steven Johnson's screen adaptation of the Marvel comic. Among comic-book fans, the news that Affleck would be portraying the tortured hero - an angry, despressed, and, oh yeah, blind lawyer who, when not losing cases in court, dons leather and kicks bad-guy ass - was met with a collective rolling of the eyes; a friend of mine, upon hearing about the casting, put it succinctly: "Oh great. It's gonna suck."

Meryl Streep and Ed Harris in The HoursTHE HOURS

Stephen Daldry's The Hours is so meticulously crafted, so assured in its conception, and so insistent on its themes and motifs that it's bound to drive a lot of people bananas.

Reese Witherspoon, Patrick Dempsey, and Candice Bergen in Sweet Home AlabamaSWEET HOME ALABAMA

Just how much goodwill are audiences willing to extend to Reese Witherspoon? Quite a lot, actually, if their response to Sweet Home Alabama is any indication.

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