The new Justin Bieber concert movie, Adam Sandler's romantic comedy 'Just Go With It' and the animated romance 'Gnomeo & Juliet' all have two things in common. First, they'll be dominating the multiplexes this pre–Valentine's Day weekend. Second, each explores the question of whether women find hyperactive gnomes to be charming and attractive.
'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' (G)
Starring: Justin Bieber
Directed By: Jon M. Chu
What's It About? 3-D footage of the teen pop sensation in concert is interspersed with clips recounting his rise to fame.
Why Should You See It? Sure, diehard Bieber fans are guaranteed to love it, but the movie is likely to win over some non-Beliebers, as well. Just ask our reviewer, who called the story "heartwarming" and "impressive." Given the film's overall positive reviews, parents may find themselves singing along with their kids in the audience.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience,' 'Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert'
Watch a Scene From the Movie and Mr. Moviefone's Six-Second Review
'Just Go With It' (PG-13)
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman, Bailee Madison, Nick Swardson, Brooklyn Decker
Directed By: Dennis Dugan
What's It About? Sandler is an irresponsible playboy and plastic surgeon who, in order to woo a sexy schoolteacher (Decker), pretends to be a family man. He enlists his exasperated nurse (Aniston) in his ever-widening deception, pretending she's his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Then kids get involved, Nicole Kidman shows up, and chaos and hilarity ensue.
Why Should You See it? Look, Sandler's got his man-child comedy formula down to a science by now. You already know if you want to see this or not. (Guess it depends on whether you're ready to forgive him for 'Grown Ups.')
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Big Daddy,' '50 First Dates,' 'Picture Perfect'
Watch a Scene From the Movie and Mr. Moviefone's Six-Second Review
'Gnomeo & Juliet' (G)
Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Stephen Merchant
Directed By: Kelly Asbury
What's It About? It's Shakespeare's similarly titled romance, only without the tragic ending and reenacted by lawn gnomes and other garden decorations. Here, lawn ornaments Gnomeo (McAvoy) and Juliet (Blunt) fall in love, even though they belong to feuding neighbors.
Why Should You See It? Advance word is that this 3D cartoon is clever, delightfully absurd and, for the little ones, not a bad intro to Shakespeare's storytelling. For parents, there's an Elton John soundtrack of familiar hits as well as some new music (particularly, a duet with John's spiritual goddaughter Lady Gaga).
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Tangled,' 'The Princess and the Frog,' 'A Bug's Life'
Family Film Guide Review
Watch the 'Gnomeo & Juliet' Trailer
'The Eagle' (PG-13)
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Mark Strong, Tahar Rahim, Donald Sutherland
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald
What's It About? What became of the Roman Ninth Legion, which disappeared in Scotland in the second-century A.D.? Tatum and Scottish-born slave Bell go looking for the missing soldiers, who were under the command of Tatum's father. When they tangle with feral, blue-faced Scottish warriors (aren't they all?), they realize that they're in over their heads.
Why Should You See It? This is historical fiction (based on Rosemary Sutcliff's novel 'The Eagle of the Ninth') adapted by someone who cares about getting history right. Early buzz says that the Scottish scenery is otherworldly, that the battles are excitingly staged and that Tatum was born to show off his muscles in a Roman soldier's uniform. It's certainly the most macho release of the weekend; there's not a female speaking part in the whole movie.
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Gladiator,' 'King Arthur,' 'Braveheart'
Watch the 'Eagle' Trailer
'Cedar Rapids' stars 'The Hangover''s Ed Helms in another comedy about middle-aged guys going out of town and running wild. Here, they're conventioneers who let loose in the big, bad Iowa city of the title. John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Sigourney Weaver co-star. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer | Read Cinematical's Review | Ed Helms Interview
'2011 Oscar Shorts' is a program compiling the nominated short films up for Academy Awards later this month. Showtimes & Tickets
'The Roommate': Sure, it's like the 'Muppet Babies' version of 'Single White Female,' but we've all had a crazy roommate, haven't we? Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
'Sanctum': James Cameron didn't lend his directing talents to this underwater thriller, but he did lend his name and his state-of-the-art 3D cameras. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
'Biutiful': Now that this Best Foreign Language Film nominee is expanding its release, you have more chances to watch Javier Bardem pull out all the stops in his Oscar-nominated performance as a dying dad. Sure, it's heavy-going and long, but we never get tired of watching Bardem. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
New on DVD: In 'Life As We Know It,' Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel are singles who dislike each other at first but fall in love over time when they're brought together by a baby. Sounds like any other Heigl movie, particularly 'Knocked Up,' only this time, the baby is already born and orphaned. The parents were mutual friends of the two singles who somehow realized the two would be A) good parents, and B) good for each other. Far-fetched? No more so than other contemporary romantic comedies, and Heigl is certainly game enough, maintaining dignity and getting laughs while walking around with baby poop on her face. Buy or Rent the DVD | More New DVD Releases
Movie Homework, Part I: Like every other teen-idol concert movie/documentary, 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' owes a huge stylistic debt to 'A Hard Day's Night.' The Beatles, who did the whole doe-eyed/floppy-hair thing 50 years before the Biebs did, pretty much invented the genre, with Richard Lester's hurtling camera and quick-cut editing capturing the excitement of Beatlemania as the four lads flee screaming fans, give cheeky answers in interviews and perform onstage. Sure, there's also the hint of a plot (Paul McCartney's loose-cannon grandpa makes trouble; sad-sack Ringo Starr feels unappreciated), but mostly, this is the definitive look at what the teen-idol phenomenon feels like from the inside. Buy or rent the DVD
Movie Homework, Part II: 'Just Go With It' is a very loose remake of 1969's 'Cactus Flower' (which, in turn, was a remake of a Broadway hit, which remade a French farce), suggesting that it's a pretty indestructible tale that can withstand even Sandlerization. Of course, 'Cactus Flower' had a script by someone who really knew farce (I.A.L. Diamond, who wrote 'Some Like It Hot'), and it starred Walter Matthau as the doctor, Ingrid Bergman as the nurse and Goldie Hawn as the ditzy young blonde. The role not only made Hawn a star, it won her an Oscar, a feat we kind of doubt Brooklyn Decker will replicate. Buy or rent the DVD
On Our Netflix Queue: Have all the Ronald Reagan 100th-birthday tributes kicking off this week whetted your interest in the 40th president's Hollywood career? For the best intro to Reagan the actor, skip his more famous roles (the dying footballer George Gipp in 'Knute Rockne All American,' the chimp's nursemaid in 'Bedtime for Bonzo') and go straight to 'Kings Row' (1942), a pulpy melodrama about a group of young adults coming of age in a small town circa 1900. Reagan had the juiciest role of his career as Drake McHugh, a playboy whose life is turned upside-down after a horrific injury. Reagan made the most of his character's dramatic arc, and his memorable line ("Where's the rest of me?") became the title of the actor-politician's 1964 memoir. Buy or rent the DVD
On TV: In 'The Sunset Limited,' a suicidal academic argues against a religious ex-con. As a movie, the old reason-vs.-faith debate sounds like something static and dull, but if anyone can make it spark and crackle, it's men-of-action Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson. Jones directed this made-for-cable version of the play by Cormac McCarthy ('No Country for Old Men'), which premieres on HBO on Saturday at 9PM. Check your local listings
Follow Gary Susman on Twitter: @garysusman.
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