30 Minutes or Less, and other movies to see

Film capsules for the week

30 Minutes or Less (R)

Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) are losers without prospects. But Dwayne's dad is rich, so he figures he can solve his problems by hiring a hit man to kill the old man and collect the inheritance. Still, hit men aren't cheap, so Dwayne and Travis kidnap pizza-delivery guy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), strap an explosive vest on him, and tell him he has 10 hours to rob a bank and deliver $100,000 to them. Yes, it sounds ludicrous, but the story is loosely based on an actual 2003 bank robbery in Pennsylvania. Unlike the real-life heist, which ended tragically, 30 Minutes or Less is a whole lot of fun. Eisenberg plays straight so well that Aziz Ansari, as Nick's friend, steals every scene he's in. But the real stars are writers Matthew Sullivan and Michael Diliberti, whose bizarre and raunchy script piles on the crazy. (Ben Gifford) The Change-Up (R) — It's just like Freaky Friday, but with public urination and hooking up at Lamaze class. Dave (Jason Bateman) is a family man and lawyer on the verge of becoming a partner at his firm; his best buddy Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) is a struggling actor, couch potato, and professional ladies man. A drunken wish switches the guys' bodies, and soon low-life Mitch is trying to settle a merger at Dave's firm while straitlaced Dave tries to function in Mitch's first role. Of course they both learn a lesson about appreciating what you've got. The Change-Up manages to put a semi-fresh spin on the old body-switch genre, with plenty of raunch mixed in with the funny stuff. (Lydia Munnell)

Cowboys & Aliens (PG-13) — It's everything you could possibly want in an action movie: James Bond, Indiana Jones, and the director of Iron Man. Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan, a wanted man with a mysterious past even he can't remember. Harrison Ford is a prick of a cattle owner who wants Jake dead. Eventually they band together to save the small town being attacked by hostile aliens in laser-blasting spaceships. It really doesn't add up to much more than cowboys and aliens duking it out in the Old West. But what else did you expect? (Michael Gallucci)

Crazy, Stupid, Love (PG-13) — Michael Scott may have left the office, but Steve Carell injects a similar clueless awkwardness into his role as Cal in this hexagonal tale of love. As Cal faces divorce from his cheating wife (Julianne Moore), his life derails and he heads straight to the bottle. But smooth-talking ladies' man Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes Cal under his wing, shaping a midlife crisis into a confident and stylish new opportunity. Cal fights for his wife, his kids, and his manhood — hilariously. There's plenty of sex, drama, one-liners, and moments of serious reflection in Crazy, Stupid, Love, and none of it comes off as corny or insincere. One of the year's most unpredictable movies. (Courtney Kerrigan)

One Fall (PG-13) — Toledo native Marcus Dean Fuller wrote, directed, and stars in this utterly cheesetastic and completely confusing story about James Bond (no joke), a man who falls from a 200-foot rock. He miraculously survives and gains a new superpower to heal people, which is, as cliché would have it, both a blessing and a curse. Most of the story takes place in a hospital where the janitor is enchanted, the sexy administrator is an ex-fiancée, and the (only?) doctor is James' big brother. The relationships are formulaic, the dialogue is forced, the facts are foggy, and a finale that is supposed to tie things up just leaves more questions. (Munnell)

Project Nim (PG-13) — The cast of characters involved in a 1970s experiment to teach sign language to a chimp are almost as fun as the monkey at the center of this documentary. They're the quirkiest kind of intellectuals, hippies, bleeding hearts, and evil scientists. Everyone was sleeping with everyone, and what began as an experiment on the development of language and human-animal communication quickly became an informal study of human closeness and loyalty. Director James Marsh (Man on Wire) blends loads of original footage with contemporary reenactments and interviews. Characters leap off the screen, and each one is acutely complex, with virtues and faults shown in equal measure. Maybe it's paradoxical that in documenting an experiment famous for being utterly unscientific, Marsh invites us to take a scientist's role: not to judge so much as to observe. And just like the actual chimp experiment, the results may be inconclusive. But you're going to have a damn good time. (Munnell)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13) — After Tim Burton's disastrous 2001 remake, a total reboot of Planet of the Apes was in order. This prequel starts at the very beginning, when a lab chimp injected with a serum to cure Alzheimer's gives birth to Caesar, a super-smart ape raised by scientist James Franco. As he gets older, Caesar begins to question his life as a "pet." After a violent outburst, Caesar is caged with other chimps in a hellish animal sanctuary, where he plots a simian revolution. That's the payoff to the buildup, which is occasionally thrilling, sometimes silly, and completely mesmerizing. By the end of this madhouse of a movie, you'll be rooting for the apes. (Gallucci)

The Smurfs (PG) — If you're skeptical of an all-star cast that includes Doogie Howser and Katy Perry, just let go. The Smurfs will take you on a fun but occasionally wobbly ride. When Clumsy's clumsiness leads the gang — including Brainy (voiced by Fred Armisen), Grouchy (George Lopez), and Smurfette (Perry) — to New York City, they're forced to navigate the largest, most dangerous "village" they've ever seen, with the evil wizard Gargamel (a wonderfully disgusting Hank Azaria) in hot pursuit. It's a perfectly sweet movie with plenty of surprises for grown-ups. Plus it looks great, with a candy-colored blend of live action and CGI. It's a smurf of a lot better than you might think. (Munnell)

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (PG-13) — Some books lose something on their way to the big screen. That's the case with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, based on Lisa See's best-selling novel. The story of two best friends in present-day Hong Kong runs parallel with the tale of two sisters in Hunan Province during the 19th century. The girls' hardship and prosperity span centuries as they're fed the ol' love-conquers-all song and dance. Though it runs less than two hours, there are times the movie feels like it will never end. (Munnell)

Tabloid (NR) — Bat Boy's got nothing on Joyce McKinney, the subject of Errol Morris' latest documentary, which tests the old adage about truth being stranger than fiction. Tabloid tells the story of the 1970s southern pageant girl, who met a young Mormon named Kirk Anderson. That's about the only detail we know for sure. McKinney claims that she and Kirk fell in love but that he disappeared one day. After hiring a private investigator, she learned he was in England and flew to rescue him from the "cult" that had abducted him. Ask almost anyone else, and they'll say McKinney abducted Anderson and made him her sex slave. Morris tells McKinney's story with humor and heart, but the director's real gift lies in the serious questions he asks about truth and justice and desire. (Munnell)

Terri (R) — Azazel Jacobs' uneven drama about an obese high-school boy (Jacob Wysocki) teetering on the cusp of total social withdrawal and brought back from the brink by his doofy principal (John C. Reilly, brilliant as always) suffers from a failure to commit to either dark teen realism or indie affectation. Despite a supporting cast that shines — including The Office's Creed Bratton, Rescue Me's Olivia Crocicchi, and promising newcomer Bridger Zadina — Terri luxuriates in its aimlessness when it should narrow its focus. (Justin Strout)

Winnie the Pooh (G) — Bucking the trend of so many maligned reboots and remakes, this subtle and charming animated movie is a delight for fans young and old. Its familiar plot — essentially, Pooh's hungry again — remains faithful to the series' heritage, and John Cleese sets the perfect tone with his eloquent narration. Winnie the Pooh is charming, funny, and (best of all) short enough for the littlest ones to sit through. (Ben Gifford)

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