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Also opening: 'An American Carol'; 'Blindness'; 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua'; 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People'; 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist'

'An American Carol'

David Zucker wants you to know that not everyone in Hollywood is a raging liberal. The co-creator of such off-the-wall comedies as Airplane! and the Naked Gun trilogy converted to the Republican Party in 2004, contributing anti-Democrat ads to the conservative cause.

Zucker takes his onscreen politics a step farther with An American Carol (PG-13), an update of Charles Dickens' Christmas classic with Ebenezer Scrooge replaced by a Michael Moore-style filmmaker. Kevin Farley plays Michael Malone, whose latest liberal crusade involves abolishing the Fourth of July.

Malone is visited by three patriotic ghosts who attempt to change his American perspective. Along the way he meets history book heroes George Washington (Jon Voight) and Gen. George Patton (Kelsey Grammer, above left), in addition to Middle Eastern terrorists and past villains including World War II's Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

'Beverly Hills Chihuahua'

Babe was the best movie of 1995, a captivating and groundbreaking fable in which animals appeared to speak with the help of computer-animated mouths. The technology has improved, but efforts to combine it with worthwhile stories decreased (Cats and Dogs, Doctor Dolittle).

Disney exploits our fascination with talking animals in Beverly Hills Chihuahua (PG), casting celebrities as the voices of dogs and various other critters. Drew Barrymore voices Chloe, a pampered Rodeo Drive chihuahua lost during a Mexican vacation, who finds her way home with animal assistance. Andy Garcia, George Lopez, Cheech Marin and Edward James Olmos are among the actors putting their best Latino accents to work.

'Blindness'

Imagine waking up to a city in which everyone except you is mysteriously blind. That's the idea behind Blindness (R), directed by Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener, City of God).

Julianne Moore plays the unnamed wife of a doctor (Mark Ruffalo, right, with Moore) stricken with the unexplained condition known as "white blindness." She may be the only person who still possesses sight but keeps it secret as she watches society crumble in despair. Everyone afflicted is quarantined in an abandoned mental hospital. The doctor's wife attempts to lead her husband and other victims to safety.

Meirelles is too thoughtful to make Blindness just another end-of-the-world potboiler. He'll likely have some kind of social or political allegory up his sleeve. A review of Blindness will be published Friday on Etc, Page 2B.

'How to Lose Friends & Alienate People'

Simon Pegg is a funny guy with his work cut out for him in How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (R), sort of The Devil Wears Prada with a sillier, male perspective.

Pegg (Run Fatboy Run, Shaun of the Dead) stars as Sidney Young, a reporter for a snarky alternative magazine who gets offered a job on the respectable side of the red carpet. Jeff Bridges co-stars as the publisher of a conventional entertainment magazine that hires Sidney.

Making nice with overpaid celebrities doesn't suit Sidney's personality, but the paycheck makes it worthwhile. Sidney befriends a starlet (Transformers' Megan Fox, left, with Pegg), romances another reporter (Kirsten Dunst) and copes with interview subjects he insulted before. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is based on the memoirs of celebrity pundit Toby Young. 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist'

Michael Cera (Juno, Superbad) plays Nick, a bassist in an indie band who is stunned when his recently ex-girlfriend turns up at a gig with a new love interest. In a desperate attempt to look as if he too has moved on, he asks Norah (Kat Dennings, The House Bunny), a stranger, to be his girlfriend for five minutes. Five minutes turns into a night spent roaming Manhattan, talking, listening to live music and searching for a legendary band's secret show.

Also opening: 'An American Carol'; 'Blindness'; 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua'; 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People'; 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' 10/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 6:14pm]
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