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WYPR Arts

'Summary Judgment': New Releases

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY.

Of course the big movie news this weekend is the Oscars, but there are still a few new movies opening.

From the online magazine Slate, here's Mark Jordan Legan with our weekly digest of what the critics think. It's called Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN: Okay, so "Reno 911: Miami" probably has no shot at Oscar glory, but the long-running Comedy Central series has its hardcore fans and now those zany cops have made it to the big screen, where they all go trekking down to Miami for a police convention.

(Soundbite of movie, "Reno 911: Miami")

Unidentified Woman (Actor): (As Character) I thought it - what's an 814?

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As Character) Armed persons on a roof.

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As Character) What?

Unidentified Man: (As Character) I thought 814 was arson.

Unidentified Woman: (As Character) No, no.

LEGAN: The nation's critics agree to disagree. Some enjoy the silly lowbrow humor and some demand a citizen's arrest, like the Village Voice, which complains, The plot, stretched out to 84 minutes, feels like a dime bag tossed aside by a fleeing perp.

But the South Florida Sun Sentinel might be showing some local favoritism when it calls "Reno 911: Miami" a movie that gives fans of the show pretty much everything they could want.

And for any numerology experts who want to be challenged this weekend, "The Number 23" dares you to figure out the significance of - well, the number 23. Jim Carrey stars as a man obsessed with a book that could possibly lead to his own death.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Number 23")

Mr. JIM CARREY (Actor): (As Character) My birthday, two-three. Driver's license, Social Security number, everything. I was born at 11:12 PM - 11 plus 12. It's like it's imitating my life.

LEGAN: "The Number 23" might be the number of tickets sold if the negative reviews are any indication. The Christian Science Monitor dismisses it as bleak and brackish.

And the Minneapolis Star Tribune offers this thought: It is so cheesy, it is almost transcendent.

But do not despair, for "The Astronaut Farmer" is here to save the day. Yes, Billy Bob Thornton stars as, well, yeah, an astronaut farmer. Actually, he's a guy who's forced to drop out of a NASA training program when a family crisis arises, but he refuses to let anything stand in the way of his dream.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Astronaut Farmer")

Mr. BILLY BOB THORNTON (Actor): (As Character) Somewhere along the line, we stopped believing that we could do anything. And if we don't have our dreams, we have nothing.

LEGAN: The critics pretty much enjoyed this old-fashioned drama, with many applauding its total lack of cynicism and harshness. And Entertainment Weekly shouts, The movie is so serenely in orbit that there's nothing to do but float along and enjoy the strange, sweet ride.

Strange and sweet is right. Astronaut farmer sounds like what a five year old says he wants to be when he grows up. Look for the sequel, "Cowboy Fireman," or the more realistic R-rated one for the grown-ups, "The Alcoholic Accountant."

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.