Ricky Gervais, Shia LaBeouf and Keira Knightley face ghosts, terrorists, and Ralph Fiennes, respectively.

Which is the bigger headache: being pestered by ghosts, or terrorized by an evil cell phone caller?

Ricky Gervais sees dead people in the well-reviewed dramedy 'Ghost Town,' while Shia LaBeouf is forced into all kinds of terrorism in the tech-thriller 'Eagle Eye.'

And then there's Keira Knightley, who doesn't have it all that easy either as Ralph Fiennes' ridiculed wife in her latest costume drama, 'The Duchess.'



'Ghost Town'
What It's About: Ricky Gervais is a curmudgeonly dentist who, after dying for seven minutes during surgery, sees dead people (like Greg Kinnear). And you guessed it -- they want something.

Critical Consensus: The relatively quiet release garnered impressively strong reviews, with an 84 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Actor to Watch: 'SNL' star Kristen Wiig makes the most out of a bit part as a nurse.

We Say: Maybe those critics had really low expectations, because this is a so-so dramedy (and one that's way too light on the "medy" part). Whereas Gervais was hilariously unlikable in the BBC's 'The Office,' here he's just unlikable.

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'Eagle Eye'
What It's About: Shia LaBeouf gets forced into all sorts of terrorism by an evil and mysterious cell phone caller. The only upside? So does hottie Michelle Monaghan.

We Say: 'Disturbia,' LaBeouf's first collaboration with director D.J. Caruso, was a pleasant surprise, but their reunion is neither pleasant nor surprising.

Recommended If You Liked: 'Cellular'; 'Phone Booth'; 'One Missed Call'; 'Untraceable' (etc)

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'The Duchess'
What It's About: Keira Knightley plays Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, a socialite who was like the Paris Hilton of 18th Century England (only charming, talented and likable).

Awards & Nominations: He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Ralph Fiennes earned a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nod for his convincing turn as Georgiana's crude husband.

We Say: Like too many Oscar bait dramas this year, this one is more noteworthy for its performances than anything, but it's a stirring historical soap opera in the same vein as 'The Tudors.'

Where It Ranks: 'Duchess' is #41 on our list of the year's 50 best movies.

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Other New Releases This Week:
'Towelhead'
'Baghead'
'Surfer, Dude'
'An American Carol'

Recent DVD Highlights

    'Burn After Reading'
    Release Date: Dec. 21
    What It's About: Two bumbling gym employees (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) attempt to blackmail a bumbling ex-spy (John Malkovich) when they find a lost disc. A bumbling George Clooney co-stars.
    What We Say: As far as the Coen brothers oeuvre goes, it falls smack dab in the middle of 'Fargo' (being their best) and 'Ladykillers' (their worst).
    Add to Netflix queue | Read Coen brothers Q&A

    Focus Features

    'American Teen'
    Release Date: Dec. 21
    What It's About: Documentarian Nanette Burnstein follows five Indiana high school seniors -- and each fits perfectly into a classic stereotype.
    What We Say: It's an amusing, heartfelt, incredibly entertaining portrait of Middle America High, complete with heroes (we love you, Hannah!) and villains (damn you, Megan Krizmanich).
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch exclusive DVD clip

    Paramount Vantage

    'The Dark Knight'
    Release Date: Dec. 9
    What It's About: You already know. But for fun: A vigilante dresses up like a flying rodent (Christian Bale) and battles a man even crazier, the Joker (Heath Ledger).
    What We Say: There's a reason this baby made $530 million at the box office, second only to 'Titanic' all time: It rocks. Now bring on the posthumous Oscar for Heath.
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    Warner Bros.

    'Horton Hears a Who!'
    Release Date: Dec. 9
    What It's About: The unlikely relationship between an elephant (voiced by Jim Carrey) and the specks of dust on his back.
    What We Say: Thank you Hollywood for finally animating Dr. Seuss! (Anyone else still suffer bad 'Cat in the Hat' flashbacks?). 'Horton' is sweet, charming and a treat to watch.
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    Fox

    'Man on Wire'
    Release Date: Dec. 9
    What It's About: The amazing story of Frenchman Philippe Petit, who tightrope-walked between World Trade Center towers in 1974.
    What We Say: The best-reviewed film of all time, according to RottenTomatoes.com, this doc combines interviews and actual footage with impressively non-corny reenactments, and is 100% breathtaking.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch trailer & clips

    Magnolia

    'Wanted'
    Release Date: Dec. 2
    What It's About: An everyday Joe (James McAvoy) is recruited by a secret society of assassins who kill to orchestrate fate ... which is determined by a loom.
    What We Say: It's all style, no brains (see Loom of Fate); both ridiculously cool and just-plain ridiculous. Those with a low threshold for nonsensical plots be warned. The rest of us can just sit back and enjoy the ride.
    Add to Netflix queue | Read James McAvoy Q&A

    Universal

    'Step Brothers'
    Release Date: Dec. 2
    What It's About: Two 40-something man-children (Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly) become siblings first, enemies second, and finally, BFFs.
    What We Say: This proudly vulgar comedy doesn't always work, but there are enough moments of hilarity to recommend a DVD viewing. (Warning: Contains disturbing images of Will Ferrell's bits.)
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch Ferrell-Reilly Unscripted

    Sony

    'WALL-E'
    Release Date: Nov. 18
    What It's About: A post-apocalyptic tale for families! Only Pixar could pull off the touching story of a robot left to clean up an uninhabitable, abandoned Earth.
    What We Say: The film's strong eco-messages may go over kiddies' heads, but grown-up viewers have hailed it a masterpiece. It's no doubt Pixar's most ambitious and unique movie to date.
    Add to Netflix queue | Watch the trailer

    Disney/Pixar

    'Tropic Thunder'
    Release Date: Nov. 18
    What It's About: Spoiled actors (including Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black) shooting a war movie find themselves in an actual battle.
    What We Say: When was the last time there were so many brilliant performances in a comedy? Tom Cruise and others kill in cameos, but this movie belongs to a black Robert Downey Jr.
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    Paramount

    'Kung Fu Panda'
    Release Date: Nov. 9
    What It's About: A roly-poly panda (Jack Black) inadvertently becomes the Kung Fu Master chosen to save the Valley of Peace.
    What We Say: Jungle animals doing martial arts? Sounds like it could be cute and funny ... for a few minutes, at least. But 'Panda' is heartfelt and hilarious, and one of the year's best surprises.
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    Paramount

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