March 12 2009 12:00 AM


Friday the 13th. Death by a surfeit of sharp objects comes to two groups of ill-fated young campers whose brief vacations to the Crystal Lake stamping ground of the infamous hockey-mask-wearing Jason Voorhees (played by Derek Mears) incites prickly gasps and roller coaster laughs. Marcus Mispel (director of the "The Texas Chainsaw" remake) gets big budget assistance from producer Michael Bay for this enjoyable update of the classic horror flick that set off cinemas longest running slasher-movie franchise. Our modern batch of victims are just as obsessed with sex, drugs and music as the murder fodder of the 1980 original, even if the barebones revenge story (if you can call it that) is closer to the series’ second installment. Aaron Yoo delivers an especially fun performance as Chewie, a stoner with a bottomless stomach for booze. (Warner Bros.) Rated R. 97 mins. (B)

Confessions of a Shopaholic. "Confusions of a Shopaholic" would be a more accurate title for this garish romantic comedy that wants to have its thematic cake and eat it to when it comes to inveterate shopper Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher). Huge credit card debt from compulsively purchasing overpriced clothing from every haute couture designer boutique in Manhattan has left Rebecca penniless when she flubs a job interview for a finance magazine. The interview backfires into a writing position that Rebecca miraculously fulfills with an immediately popular column, "The Girl In the Green Scarf," written from personal experience. Distilled from Sophie Kinsellas first two novels, the picture struggles to mitigate the importance of dressing in designer fashions for Rebeccas new high-profile job with the necessity of fiscal responsibility. Hugh Dancy plays Rebeccas editor/love interest Luke Brandon, but never strikes a spark with Fishers character. It might have helped if the movie ever got around to showing what Rebecca did with her seemingly nonexistent paychecks. Rated PG-13. 104 mins. (C-)

Fired Up! A shameless celebration of female nubility, "Fired Up!" is a peppy teen sex comedy that draws on a perfectly pitched pop music score, a bevy of scantily clad cheerleaders and the quick-fire camaraderie of its skirt-chasing buddies Shawn and Nick (Nicholas DAgosto and Eric Christian Olsen). The Illinois football-playing pals have a systematic approach to conquering the legion of high school hotties that surround them. So it goes that the pair choose to forgo football camp in favor of catching fish-in-a-barrel by attending cheerleader camp where their schools Tiger cheerleading team is outnumbered by pep rally girls from other competing national squads. Shawns well connected little sister Poppy (Juliette Goglia) gives the boys a crash course in the skills of male cheer leading. The movie hits its stride of athletic fun under Coach Keith (John Michael Higgins) and his wife Diora (Molly Sims). Nick sets his sites on seducing Diora, while Shawn goes for a more traditional route, pursuing the Tigers captain Carly (Sarah Roemer) in spite of her romantic involvement with a bratty frat boy. There isnt anything special here, but "Fired Up!" is still a lot more fun than the adult romantic comedies Hollywood has trotted out so far this year. Rated PG-13. 89 mins. (B)

The International. Packed with so much clumsy exposition about its antagonist multinational banks vaporous involvement in arms dealing, terrorism and third-world revolutions that the story frequently slips from director Tom Tykwers grip, "The International" still manages to invent meaty iconographic set pieces thanks to its great architectural backgrounds that include the Guggenheim Museum and Istanbuls Ayia Sofia. Theres no denying that Clive Owen does more justice to a trench coat than most actors could as former Scotland Yard agent Louis Salinger, who is involved in a globetrotting investigation of the IBBC bank with the help of Manhattan Assistant D.A. Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts). Debut screenwriter Eric Warren Singer should be eternally grateful to director Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run") for elevating the muddy script with lush visual compositions and an energetic score that supports solid performances from its cast. A distant cousin to Daniel Craigs second James Bond outing ("Quantum of Solace"), "The International" is still worth seeing for fans of the genre. Rated R. 118 mins. (B-)

Coraline. Regardless of its esteemed pedigree of writer Neil Gaiman and director/animator Henry Selick ("The Nightmare Before Christmas"), this creepy gothic kids movie doesnt approach anything that the Brothers Grimm cooked up on an off day. The animation is never as inspired as the films that Aardman ("Wallace & Gromit") puts out on a regular basis. Little witchy Coraline Jones (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is bored with her milquetoast parents (voiced by Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) and their 150-year-old house that theyve recently moved into. But Coralines ennui fades when she finds a portal into a mirror reality where her parents are kinder and the house is better painted and has better lighting. The only catch is that if Coraline wants to stay in the more festive reality, shell have to have her eyes sewn up with buttons. Yes, with buttons. The 3-D effects are less than impressive, and as a character, Coraline is a shade too snotty to ever completely win over the audience. Keith David adds pizzazz as the leathery voice of a quirky black cat that comes to Coralines rescue, but its not enough to save the movie from itself. (Focus Features) Rated PG. 101 mins. (C )

He’s Just Not That Into You. More of a romantic train wreck than a comedy "Hes Just Not That Into You" is like a moderated game of heartbreak musical chairs. Screenwriting duo Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein turned Greg Behrendts and Liz Tuccillos self-help book into a whiny little movie about a group of interconnected spoiled brat Baltimore 20-somethings who either dont know what they want, dont know how to get what they want, or havent a clue about how to keep what they already have. Destined to be called the "Jennifer movie," because it stars Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly and Ginnifer Goodwin, the story grinds gears between a series of bumpy subplots rather than fully developed set-pieces. From its lack of comic timing and romantic suspense, its clear that none the filmmakers has ever seen a Woody Allen movie. Cheating, trying to get laid and attempting to wrangle the opposite sex into marriage or something quite like it never seemed so dull. Rated PG-13, 129 mins. (C-)

New In Town. Rene Zellweger works her romantic comic magic as Miami corporate climber Lucy Hill, who volunteers to help restructure her companys food plant in Minnesota in the heart of winter. Lucys culture shock is compounded by the conservative mores and short-list habits of a tight-knit community that she reluctantly comes to respect and even love, thanks in no small part to the outdoorsy charm of the towns union rep Ted Mitchell (Harry Connick, Jr.). "New In Town" is an uncomplicated, fish-out-of-water romance with just enough modern-day social commentary to give it some substance. The sweetness here is far from saccharine, and well-crafted supporting role performances from Siobhan Fallon Hogan and J.K. Simmons go a long way toward anchoring the humor._(Lionsgate) Rated PG. 96 mins. (B-)

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