Meryl Streep in DoubtDOUBT

Based on his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, writer/director John Patrick Shanley's period drama Doubt - set in 1964, and concerning a nun who suspects a priest of sexual misconduct with an altar boy - isn't much of a movie. Shanley's previous directorial effort was 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano, and it's a shame he wasn't able to get in more practice over the last 18 years; in an attempt to gussy up the visual blandness that accompanies most theatrical adaptations, Shanley opts for a series of high- and low-angle shots and symbolic thunder, lightning, and wind effects that oftentimes make Doubt resemble a satire of a low-budget horror flick. And it's still visually bland.

Viggo Mortensen in HidalgoHIDALGO

As family-friendly adventures go, the Disney-produced western Hidalgo isn't all that bad, but it sure could have used a feistier directorial spirit, something like what Gore Verbinski brought to last summer's Pirates of the Caribbean.

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler in 50 First Dates50 FIRST DATES

Adam Sandler's 50 First Dates is about a man who falls in love with a woman suffering from short-term memory loss, a condition the filmmakers must think afflicts their audience as well.

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?

Al Pacino and Rachel Roberts in SimoneSIMONE

Andrew Niccol appears to be obsessed with a theme that, in all likelihood, he can spend his entire filmmaking career exploring: What is the nature of reality? In 1997's vastly underrated Gattaca, which Niccol wrote and directed, he investigated the perils of genetic engineering, as his biologically "natural" protagonist Vincent assumed the identity of the genetically "perfect" Jerome to further his space-exploration career; the film, which on paper might seem a cerebral sci-fi comedy of mistaken identity, dramatized what it meant to be "real" in an unreal world, and was a heady, thrilling experience.

John Turturro and Adam Sandler in Mr. DeedsMR. DEEDS

I'd love to reveal the finale to the new Adam Sandler comedy Mr. Deeds, but that would imply that I made it through the picture. For the first time in almost 10 years, I walked out of a movie - at roughly the one-hour mark - and am a little mortified that I lasted as long as I did.

ShrekSHREK

Let's face it: Kids are gonna love Shrek, Dreamworks' comedic, computer-animated fairy tale. They'll get a kick out of the loud, outsize characters and superb visuals, and they'll probably laugh a lot. No one under 12 will want to miss it.

As for the rest of us ... .