Structurally, this is exceedingly faithful to its source material, a Japanese film of the same name about an accountant who breaks out of his mid-life rut by secretly taking ballroom dance lessons. The setting has been moved to Chicago and Richard Gere plays a lawyer, but otherwise this remake is nearly scene-for-scene identical to the 1996 original, right down to some of the dialogue. Tonally, though, it couldn’t be more different, because it’s utterly devoid of subtlety. While much about this new movie feels over the top, Jennifer Lopez is oddly restrained as a competitive dancer who’s stuck teaching classes at Miss Mitzi’s Studio alongside the El train. Like her or not, you have to admit that the artist formerly known as J.Lo has a certain radiance that makes her magnetic. Here, in her attempt at conveying melancholy, Lopez merely appears constipated. Rated: PG-13 for some sexual references and brief language. Running time: 106 min. Rating: 2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer



“Stephen King’s Riding the Bullet” – This latest King adaptation is small-caliber stuff, a movie thin on plot and character and mostly shooting blanks on thrills and chills. Based on a short story King sold to readers by Internet download, the tale follows a hitchhiker (Joshua Jackson) stalked by death on a journey home to visit his ailing mother (Barbara Hershey). This rumination on mortality lacks sufficient story firepower to sustain an entire movie. Despite its added back-story, the movie plays like a stretched-thin installment of the old TV anthology series “Amazing Stories,” where writer-director Mick Garris got his start. David Arquette, Erika Christensen and Cliff Robertson co-star. R for violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and some nudity. 99 min. One and a half stars out of four.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer



“Team America: World Police” – Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the mad geniuses behind “South Park,” spare no one from skewering in their all-puppet extravaganza about a globe-trotting team of overly energetic peacekeepers – not the so-called evildoers, or the self-righteous forces trying to stop them, or the Hollywood stars who feel compelled to use their celebrity to comment on the evildoers and the self-righteous forces trying to stop them. The result is a film that works on every imaginable level: as a comedy, as sharp political commentary, as a send-up of bombastic action flicks, even as a musical. That Parker (as director) and Stone (who co-wrote the script with Parker) are equal opportunity offenders is one of the movie’s great strengths. It all may sound adolescent and goofy, and a lot of the time it is. But “Team America” also may be the best film of the year. It’s easily the funniest. R for graphic, crude and sexual humor, violent images and strong language, all involving puppets. 90 min. Four stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Entertainment Writer


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