These are Maui Scene Editor Rick Chatenever's mini-reviews, excerpts of wire service reviews and previews provided by studios and other sources.
New this week
"Date Night" PG-13, 1:27, Kaahumanu 6, Kukui Mall 4 and Front Street Theaters. Steve Carrel and Tina Fey take the leap from TV, where they top NBC's funny scale, to the big screen for this madcap comedy. They play a New Jersey couple trying to escape the blahs of their relationship with a night on the town in Manhattan. Trying to put a spark in their lives, they get more of an explosion when they are mistaken for blackmailers by a gangster and his goons. Showing up as friends, foes and strange distractions as they flee across the Big Apple are Mark Wahlberg, Ray Liotta, Taraji P. Henson, James Franco and Mila Kunis. Shawn Levy directs.
20th Century Fox photo
“Date Night” provides more excitement than Tina Fey and Steve Carrel were expecting in the new madcap comedy.
"Letters to God" PG, 1:50, Kaahumanu 6. A boy fighting cancer writes letters to God, becoming a source of inspiration to those around him in this Christian-themed adaptation of a true story. Lisa Curtis, Christopher Schmidt, Lyanna Tumaneng, Tanner Maguire, Ralph Waite, Dennis Neal, Robyn Lively and Michael Bolten co-star. Writer Patrick Doughtie shares the directing dutes with David Nixon.
"The Warlords" R, 1:50, Kukui Mall 4. Based on a historical tale from the Qing Dynasty, this heroic epic stars Jet Li as a general thrust into a power struggle with three blood brothers. Jinglei Xu, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro co-star. Peter Chan and Wai Man Yip co-direct the costumed drama and violent action on a grand scale amidst a setting of political intrigue and unrest.
Times in the movie ads are subject to change on the weekend. It's a good idea to call the theater, just to be sure. For showtimes at Kaahumanu 6 and Kukui Mall 4, call 1 (800) FANDANGO visit www.consolidatedtheatres.com.
For showtimes at Lahaina Wharf Cinemas, Front Street Theatres and Maui Mall Megaplex call 249-2222 or check www.gohollywood.com.
"Alice in Wonderland" PG, 1:49, Kaahumanu 6; ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4. Whimsical visionary Tim Burton gives a modern and darker spin to Lewis Carroll's beloved Alice, making her a 19-year-old on the brink of marriage. Lured back to Wonderland, with lots also borrowed from "Through the Looking Glass," Alice (nicely done by Mia Wasikowska) is less a confused child than a girl-powered heroine, matching wits with the familiar menagerie of weirdos - led by Burton favorites Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter - while entertaining doubts about what she's doing there and whether she might be the wrong Alice. Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover and the voices of Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman and Stephen Fry co-star. While Burton sometimes seems to have Alice confused with Joan of Arc and throws in one big monster as though the Red Queen weren't menacing enough, his "Alice" still strikes a nice balance between whimsy and more tender stuff. His stars all shine, especially Depp who turns the Hatter into a hero with a tender heart, guiding the comedy to almost $300 million already. Despite what other critics might say, it's recommended by this one.
"Avatar" PG-13, 2:57, Maui Mall Megaplex. With three Oscars to add to its Golden Globes for best picture and best director, genius filmmaker and cinematic dictator James Cameron can lay claim to "king of the cosmos" with this dazzling and provocative $300 million sci-fi epic that's already topped $2 billion internationally. It's set on a distant moon of a faraway planet where the humans - or, rather, their avatar surrogates - interact with the locals, a graceful race of 12-foot-tall blue-skinned beings. Under the dazzling visuals and special effects is an allegory about the things technological societies do to indigenous cultures in the name of greed and progress. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana lead the mixed-species cast, along with Sigourney Weaver (no stranger to outer space), Stephen Lang and Giovanni Ribisi. Upping state-of-the-art to the next level with its amazing creatures and equally amazing 3-D effects, Cameron never lets his technology trump his storytelling, which is touching, instructive and inspiring, all at once. Recommended.
"The Bounty Hunter" PG-13, 2:06, Kaahumanu 6 and Front Street Theaters; ends tonight at Kukui Mall 4. Jennifer Aniston plays the journalistic ex-wife of down-on-his-luck bounty hunter Gerard Butler in this action comedy directed by Andy Tennant. How convenient when he gets assigned to bring her in for jumping bail. How inconvenient when she keeps outfoxing him, raising the eternal question, who wears the handcuffs in this family? Christine Baranski co-stars, but the results fall flat, letting the contrived screenplay squander whatever chemistry the two appealing stars brought to the project.
"Clash of the Titans" PG-13 2:01, Maui Mall Megaplex (in 3-D with a ticket surcharge and 2-D), Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas. "Avatar's" Sam Worthington stars as Perseus in this remake of a 1981 cult classic about the mythical gods on Mount Olympus. Basically sharing the characters and storyline of the currently running "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," this clash claims it's not that much fun being a god, especially when the humans get uppity. Liam Neeson is Zeus, sending his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) to destroy the city of Argos to remind the humans who's in charge. Louis Leterrier directs, all the way to the top of the box-office charts.
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" PG, 1:48, Kaahumanu 6; ends tonight at Front Street Theaters. Middle school is a major challenge for even well-adjusted kids; for nerds, it's torture 24/7. Zachary Gordon stars in this live-action adaptation of Jeff Kinney's illustrated novel as the wisecracking protagonist who turns his geeky misfortunes into a journal, sharing observations, advice and triumphs, even if they're figments of his imagination. Robert Capron, Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn co-star; Thor Freudenthal directs.
"The Ghost Writer" PG-13, 2:08, Maui Mall Megaplex. When Ewan McGregor signs on to ghost write the memoir of a Tony Blair-like former British prime minister (Pierce Brosnan), he eventually finds himself fearing for his life. Exiled suspense master Roman Polanski directs the tense thriller, full of ominous atmosphere, political intrigue and other sorts of treacherous human behavior. Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, James Belushi and Eli Wallach co-star. Recommended.
"Green Zone" R, 2:10, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6. Matt Damon reteams with his "Bourne" director, Paul Greengrass, for this ripped-from-the-headlines Iraq war drama that revisits the old issue of weapons of mass destruction, even if movie audiences don't want to think about it. Damon is up to his usual standard as the officer who realizes something's not right in the official "intelligence" justifying U.S. military action in Iraq; Greg Kinnear plays against type as the embassy official behind the deception. Amy Ryan is the reporter trying to cover the story in this hard-hitting look at recent history that gives a ground-level view of fighting in Iraq, even as it questions what it's all about.
"Hot Tub Time Machine" R, 1:54, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters. John Cusack and his dorky pals Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson happen onto an escape from their midlife blues with the device named in the title. Bringing Cusack's dweeby nephews (Clark Duke) along, they wind up back in the 1980s, trying to make better choices the second time around. Steve Pink directs. Even with Cusack bringing his patented cool to this basically raunchy project, the title is as funny as it gets - not to mention, shorter and less painful to sit through.
"How to Train Your Dragon" PG, 1:53, Maui Mall Megaplex (3-D, with additional charge, and 2-D), Kukui Mall 4 and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas. Set in Viking days of yore, Jay Baruchel gives voice to a youth named Hiccup, a major disappointment to his dragon-slaying dad, Viking chief Stoick the Vast (voiced by Gerard Butler). Setting out to gain some respect by slaying a fierce Night Fury dragon, he finds he can't finish that job, either, but instead nurses the wounded creature back to health, names it "Toothless," and figures out how to fly on its back. Like "Avatar" for kids, it features spectacular flying action above the mythical Norse scenery below. Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and Christopher Mintz-Plasse add their voices to the the smart-aleck script, written and directed by "Lilo and Stitch's" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois.
"The Last Song" PG, 2:02, Maui Mall Megaplex and Lahaina Wharf Cinemas. Following on the heels of Nicholas Sparks' "Dear John," this one walks the same path, littered with Kleenex, as Miley Cyrus tries to grow out of Hannah Montana territory and into more sullen teendom. She plays a girl still smoldering about her parents' divorce who spends the summer with her dad (Greg Kinnear) at his Georgia beach house where she makes the acquaintance of the just-about-perfect Liam Hemsworth. While Liam finds ways of heating up her cold heart, this being a Nicholas Sparks story, you know better than to expect a happy ending. Bobby Coleman co-stars; Julie Ann Robinson directs.
"Our Family Wedding" PG-13, 1:41, Maui Mall Megaplex. Despite the potential for cliches and stereotypes in comedies about interracial marriages, this one reportedly is charming rather than cheesy. America Ferrera and Lance Gross play the couple; Carlos Mencia and Forest Whitaker play their soon-to-be-feuding fathers. Regina King, Lupe Ontiveros, Anjela Johnson, Diana Maria Riva, Charlie Murphy, Taye Diggs and a goat who happens onto some Viagra co-star. Rick Famuyiwa directs.
"Repo Men" R, 2:06, ends tonight at Kaahumanu 6. A bunch of A-list actors -Jude Law, Forest Whitaker and Liev Schreiber - sign on for this B-movie sci-fi thriller set in the future when organ transplants can be reversed if the patient doesn't pay his medical bill in a timely fashion. Miguel Sapechnik directs; Alice Braga co-stars.
"Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too" PG-13, 2:16, Maui Mall Megaplex and Front Street Theaters. Tyler I'd-Rather-Do-It-Myself Perry returns as writer, director, producer and actor in this second look at the challenges and temptations facing married couples, even when they're beautiful, rich and successful. Cast in the Bahamas where four couples have come for their once-a-year reunion, it co-stars Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Sharon Leal, Malik Yoba, Richard T. Jones, Tasha Smith, Lamman Rucker, Michael Jai White, Louis Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson.