Film Capsules

Jenna Fischer's movie and others summarized for your enjoyment

A Little Help (R)

The Office's Jenna Fischer plays dental hygienist Laura, a thirtysomething cutie mom whose husband dies after she gives him a blowjob (way to go, Pam!). But she's not entirely on her own. She has a pain-in-the-ass sister pushing for a malpractice suit against the doctor who didn't spot hubby's heart condition, a brother-in-law still nursing a high-school crush on her, and a 12-year-old son who tells classmates his dad died a fireman hero on 9/11. A coming-of-age tale as well as a midlife-crisis movie, A Little Help balances its occasionally stifled storytelling with a gently funny performance by Fischer. Writer-director Michael J. Weithorn comes from a TV background, and he stages much of the movie like the sitcoms he cut his teeth on. Too bad it's The King of Queens instead of The Office. (Michael Gallucci) A Better Life — While it deals largely with the hardships of immigrants in America, this new film by Chris Weitz (About a Boy) is much more nuanced than that. It's a quietly heartbreaking father-and-son story fueled by clashes of age, social class, and culture. Carlos is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico working as a landscaper and raising his 14-year-old citizen-son Luis by himself. When he makes the difficult decision to buy a truck to further his business, it's supposed to be the ticket to a better home and school for Luis. But when the truck is stolen, father and son are forced to work together to get it back. All this plays out amid the sun-soaked haze of L.A., with its gang pressure and racial tension. It's hard not to care for Carlos and Luis, but if you're looking for a feel-good salute to the system, find another movie. (Lydia Munnell)

Captain America: The First Avenger (PG-13) — Summer's superhero bonanza continues with the final lead-in to next summer's all-star Avengers, and it falls somewhere between the terrific X-Men: First Class and the awful Green Lantern. Chris Evans (so unlikable as the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies, a little better here) plays Steve Rogers, a 90-pound weakling who takes part in a secret government experiment during World War II that turns him into a lean, mean, Nazi-fighting machine. Soon he's taking on the appropriately named Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and the super-powered lasers he's using to wipe out mankind. There's an old-fashioned approach to the look and storytelling, which instantly makes it a richer experience than the empty Green Lantern. But by the end of its 125 minutes, Captain America starts to wobble from battle fatigue. Let's hope the Captain's rested in time for his Avengers closeup. (Michael Gallucci)

The Double Hour (NR) — This movie has so much going for it: two sultry, on-the-rise actors; a rich color palette; sensual movement; and a psychological thriller angle that frightens and captivates. The only thing missing is a destination. Hotel maid Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport) meets Guido (Filippo Timi) at a speed-dating event. They're immediately ripped apart when they get caught in the middle of a burglary. Guido is shot dead. Sonia recovers, but she sees Guido's ghost everywhere. As secrets are revealed, the vaguely supernatural tragedies begin to mount. Then all hell breaks loose.Disappointing isn't quite the word for it. Infuriating is more like it. (Justin Strout)

Friends With Benefits (R) — Jamie (Mila Kunis) is a tough-talking New York headhunter who, despite a history of failed relationships, believes in fairy-tale love. Dylan (Justin Timberlake), an L.A. art director with a similar romantic past, is recruited by Jamie to work at a magazine. The two form a quick friendship after Dylan moves to New York, and one drunken night decide that Hollywood clichés and Katherine Heigl movies have it all wrong — sometimes it's really just about sex. And, with this clichéd denouncement of clichés, two very good-looking actors strip down. Despite its preoccupation with dismissing romantic comedies, Friends With Benefits is exactly that — and every bit as predictable and unrealistic as you'd think. (Emily Schiller)

Green Lantern (PG-13) — This is exactly the type of empty summer blowout they warn you about. Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan, a hotshot test pilot who reluctantly becomes part of an intergalactic corps of peacekeepers after he inherits a glowing green ring that turns him into the titular hero. Unfortunately, most of Green Lantern is bogged down with Hal's boring backstory, his relationship with an ex-turned-boss (Blake Lively), and a subplot involving a scientist. (Gallucci)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two — The eighth and final Harry Potter movie is everything you hoped it would be: big, beautiful, thrilling, emotional, and a gratifying conclusion to a series that's had more ups than downs over the past 10 years. It picks up where last year's dark Part One left off, leading to a rousing showdown between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). If you haven't seen any of the other Harry Potter movies, don't start with this one. If you have, get ready for the best movie in the series. (Gallucci)

Horrible Bosses (R) — Jasons Bateman and Sudeikis, along with Charlie Day of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, play best friends with one thing in common: They hate their bosses. So when workplace misery reaches fever pitch, they decide to kill them. Jamie Foxx joins the mix as an unlikely hit man; Kevin Spacey, Colin Ferrell, and Jennifer Aniston are utterly hatable as the trinity of evil bosses. Horrible Bosses is not a timeless noir comedy by any means, but it's just funny enough to get away with murder. (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. Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) paints an unquestionably beautiful portrait, but it's hard to feel any kind of intimacy with these characters. (Munnell)

Submarine (R) — This perfectly clever, funny, and touching coming-of-age story centers around Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts), who provides voice-over narration to his existence as a fairly independent 15-year-old kid looking for a little meaning by losing his virginity and somehow solving his parents' problematic marriage. Director Richard Ayoade creates a solid and unwavering tone throughout his telling of this completely realistic story. If the 34-year-old director has such a deft handle on being a teenager, imagine how he might handle somebody his own age. (Wendy Ward)

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)

Zookeeper (PG) — Zookeeper asks you to accept an outlandish premise: that pudgy Kevin James is irresistible to two gorgeous women. Oh, and less implausibly, that animals can talk. Zookeeper takes an amusing kids' movie premise — that animals can speak and conspire to help their beloved zookeeper (James) win back his ex-girlfriend (Leslie Bibb) and stay at his job — and mucks it up with a haphazard array of slapstick and pee jokes. The movie's twin story lines never really mesh. A star-studded voice cast can't rescue a movie that has little to offer kids or adults. (Pamela Zoslov)

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