New movies this week
Dinner for Schmucks
The gist: A guy has to bring a genius to his boss' annual Dinner for Extraordinary People in order to get ahead at his job. The tbt* staff was busy that day, so he picks a guy who makes dioramas out of dead mice. We should have thought of that. PG-13
Starring: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Jemaine Clement, Jeff Dunham, Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, Stephanie Szostak, Lucy Davenport and Kristen Schaal.
The buzz: Hit or miss, as far as comedies go. "The situations are painstakingly set up and downright painful to sit through. So enjoy, or endure the appetizers, because with this Dinner, dessert is truly the topper," the Orlando Sentinel says.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
The gist: Man, who knows what the plot is? It's about live-action animals, voiced by celebrities doing something. Your 7-year-old will love it. PG
Starring: Christina Applegate, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neil Patrick Harris , Sean Hayes, James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Joe Pantoliano and Bette Midler.
The buzz: "This isn't so much that the story and characters are weak — though they very much are — but that animatronics and computer animation so anthropomorphize these critters that they bear more resemblance to cartoons than actual flesh-and-fur animals," the Hollywood Reporter notes. See, they didn't pay attention to the plot, either.
Charlie St. Cloud
The gist: Zac Efron decideds to grow up by playing a guy who can see and interact with the ghost of his younger brother at the cemetery in which the kid is buried. You know,they have medication for that, Zac. PG-13
Starring: Efron, Amanda Crew, Donal Logue, Charlie Tahan, Kim Basinger and Ray Liotta.
The buzz: We all prefer Efron in High School Musical, it seems, but give him a little credit for trying. "Charlie St. Cloud is primarily a vehicle to prove the actor can do more than dance and sing," the Miami Herald says. "It's more of a demo reel for Efron than a movie. His predominant fan base, though, won't mind a bit."
The Girl Who Played With Fire
The gist: The second movie in the late Stieg Larsson's Millenium book series finds Lisbeth Salander caught up in the murder of a couple of Mikael Blomkvist's colleagues who were reporting on a sex-trafficking ring. We're not betting she did it, but she does have a history of violence. R
Starring: Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist.
The buzz: If you're caught up in the series, it's a fair sequel. If not, well, get caught up before they do the English-language remake starring Daniel Craig. "Whenever The Girl Who Played With Fire threatens to stall, Lisbeth whips out her Taser and tortures another sleazy, abusive man into vomiting forth his dirty secrets. In Sweden, I believe they call this 'light entertainment,' " the Boston Globe's Ty Burr says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org