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Summary Judgment: New Movies


Back now with DAY TO DAY.

It is hot out there. A nice cool movie theater beckons. Will what's on screen be better than the air-conditioning?

We have a weekly digest of what the film critics think of the new movie releases. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Slate): Just when you thought all the summer's threequels have already been released, here's the third installment of the highly successful "Rush Hour" action-comedy franchise. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return as the mismatched cops who must travel to Paris to break up a crime syndicate.

(Soundbite of movie, "Rush Hour 3")

Mr. JACKIE CHAN (Actor): (As Chief Inspector Lee) This is a business of China.

Mr. CHRIS TUCKER (Actor): (As Detective James Carter) Well, for your information, I'm part Chinese now. That's right, Lee. For the last three years I've studied the ancient teachings of Buddha, earning two black belts in wushu martial arts, spending every afternoon at the Hong Kong Garden Massage Parlor on Pico and Bundy. I am a half-Chinese, baby.

Mr. CHAN: (As Chief Inspector Lee) If you are half-Chinese, I'm half black.

Mr. LEGAN: The nation's critics didn't enjoy the trip. Junkie, clunky, and grimly unfunny, snarls The New York Times. The Austen Chronicles feels the film is just plainly out of gas. And the Chicago Tribune regrets to inform us, "Rush Hour 3" is DOA.

In limited release, director Jeffrey Blitz, who made the Oscar nominated documentary "Spellbound," now brings us "Rocket Science," a fictional film about a teenager with a stuttering problem who joins the high school debate team.

(Soundbite of "Rocket Science")

Mr. REECE THOMPSON (Actor): (As Hal Hefner) Coach Lumley said that after the first tournament someone always gets creamed and never comes back. So I'll be filling that slot, whomever's that may be.

Unidentified Woman (Actor): To discover opportunity in misery. There's sense in that.

Unidentified Man (Actor): That's how I found you, my love.

Mr. LEGAN: "Rocket Science" gets heavenly reviews. Smart, witty, and blessedly unpredictible, cheers U.S.A. Today. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer smiles: an odd charmer. And Premiere raves: "Rocket Science" might prove to be the handywork of a burgeoning cinematic genious.

And for you fantasy fans out there, we have "Stardust," the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's popular graphic novel. Michelle Pfieffer, Robert DeNiro, and Claire Danes star in this romantic adventure that embraces but also pokes fun at the magical landscape of fairytales.

(Soundbite of "Stardust")

Mr. ROBERT DeNIRO (Actor): (As Captain Shakespeare) Ten thousand bolts of finest quality (unintelligible).

Mr. RICKY GERVAIS (Actor): (As Ferdy the Fence) Yeah, but it's difficult to shift and difficult to store. Forget the revenue man, and they're sniffing around. What's the best price, 150 guineas.

Mr. DeNIRO: (As Captain Shakespeare) Gentlemen, put the merchandise back on board and prepare to sail.

Mr. GERVAIS: (As Ferdy the Fence) Whoa, whoa, hold on. Hold on. Wait a minute. Hold on, Cuddles. 160, 160.

Mr. DeNIRO: (As Captain Shakespeare) Seeing as I'm feeling particulary generous today, I'll settle for 200.

Mr. GERVAIS: (As Ferdy the Fence) Two hundred? Okay. You're having a laugh.

Mr. LEGAN: The critics are enchanted by "Stardust." Immensely winning and visually arresting, shouts The Wall Street Journal. Diverting and pleasurable, grins the Hollywood Reporter. And the LA Times gushes: one of the best date movies of the year.

Oh, that's refreshing to hear there's a great date movie. Hey, maybe I'll hire a babysitter and take the wife, go to dinner, take in the movie, and then just when the previews stop and the movie is getting ready to start, the babysitter will call, saying something like one of the kid's ears is aching and they have a fever, but I'm sure it's nothing. And - oh, the cat seems to be stuck behind the entertainment center, and there's wailing and pain and we smell burnt fur, but I'm sure she's fine.

Oh, who am I kidding? I can't possibly go see a great date movie. I have kids. And a cat.

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

Mark Jordan Legan