Even if you’d never seen a single romantic comedy, this would still seem painfully stale. They’re all there – every cliche of the genre. You could sit in the audience with a list and check them off. A neurotic and slightly klutzy heroine who has closed off her heart to the possibility of love? Check. (Oh, and she lives in New York, but remarkably Debra Messing’s character, Kat, doesn’t work at a magazine.) A dashing suitor who seems all wrong for her but might just be Mr. Right? Got it. (And Dermot Mulroney’s character, Nick, is a male escort, so you can also check off the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold cliche.) A wedding as the setting for all of the movie’s cataclysmic contrivances? Of course. That’s where Kat takes Nick, whom she’s hired to pose as her date. Rated: PG-13. Rating: 1 out of 4 stars.


One of those horror movies in which everyone would be fine if they just turned on the light. Tim Jensen (Barry Watson of the WB series “7th Heaven”) has been afraid of the dark, and of the dark forces he thinks are lurking in the closet, since he was 8. That’s when he watched his father get gobbled up by a creature, supposedly the boogeyman.

Now 23, he’s still afraid, but he returns to his old home and faces his fears with the help of a childhood friend (Emily Deschanel) and a creepy little girl (Skye McCole Bartusiak) who shares his concerns about closets. Traditional scares give way to laughably ridiculous territory toward the end when the movie strays from the idea of a vague threat and becomes far too literal. Rated: PG-13. Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

‘Hide and Seek’

What is Robert De Niro thinking? The question is being posed not with condescension or derision – though that’s probably how it sounds -but with curiosity and concern. When he makes a movie like “Hide and Seek,” essentially a B-horror flick with the benefit of a high-quality cast, is he doing it for a change of pace? Certainly the first two-thirds of this generically titled thriller are engrossing enough, chock-full of good, old-fashioned scary movie images and ideas. De Niro plays a New York City psychologist who takes his daughter (Dakota Fanning) to a dinky town upstate after the suicide of his wife (Amy Irving). He hopes she’ll come out of her frequently stoic state to make new friends. She already has: His name is Charlie, and he’s presumably imaginary. Then the bodies start piling up, and the weakness of the script really comes to a head. Rated: R for frightening sequences and violence. Rating: 1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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