The possibility of watching Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda tear each other apart inspires a certain morbid curiosity -something akin to Godzilla vs. Mothra, with bronzed skin and blond highlights. By this point, J.Lo and J.Fo have created such larger-than-life personae that they are more than mere actresses: They’re multimedia empires, separated by a generation. That’s part of the vague allure of “Monster-in-Law,” Fonda’s first film in 15 years.

But it also begs the question: Why would she choose this project, which thrusts her into humiliating physical comedy, to mark her return to the screen? She could have done anything. She has done everything – except play a true villain, which she gets to do as the movie’s titular terror. Instead, she’s reduced to two-dimensional, Joan Crawfordesque divadom as the smothering mother trying to sabotage the upcoming nuptials between her precious son (Michael Vartan) and his sweet, bohemian fiancee (Lopez). Rated: PG-13 for sex references and language. Running time: 95 minutes. Rating: 1 ½ out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP movie critic
‘Kicking & Screaming’

If you just can’t wait until July for the remake of “The Bad News Bears” starring Billy Bob Thornton, here you have the same idea on the soccer field starring Will Ferrell. Those three words – starring Will Ferrell – are essential to the movie’s likability. This is not a creative concept. We know that Ferrell, as a reluctant soccer coach, will turn his ragtag band of boys into winners, that victory will come at any cost, that he will rage wildly out of control with the intoxication of power (and, in this case, heavy doses of caffeine) and that he will see the error of his ways just in time to deliver a winning-isn’t-everything, just-go-out-there-and-have-fun speech. Ferrell makes it work with his specific brand of goofy physical comedy. Robert Duvall goofs on his “Great Santini” role as Ferrell’s ultra-competitive father, but Mike Ditka (playing himself) steals the show as Ferrell’s assistant coach. Rated: PG for thematic elements, language and some crude humor. Running time: 90 minutes. Rated: 2 out of 4 stars.

– Christy Lemire, AP movie critic



“Layer Cake” – Daniel Craig shows why his name has been bandied about as a candidate to be the next James Bond in this stylish British crime thriller. He stars as an unnamed, wealthy drug dealer who wants to get out of the business, but first must perform a couple of favors for his boss (Kenneth Cranham). It’s a tried-and-true premise, and first-time director Matthew Vaughn travels some of the same familiar territory as he did in earlier films he produced: Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.” But he moves with smooth fluidity between characters and story lines as he sets up this tale of drugs, schemes and violence, all of which centers on Craig, who provides a wiry, clear-eyed intensity. Michael Gambon, meanwhile, is a formidable scene-stealer as a well-dressed, top-tier criminal. R for strong brutal violence, sexuality, nudity, pervasive language and drug use. 105 min. Three stars out of four.

– Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic



“Mindhunters” – Director Renny Harlin’s latest debacle is a ridiculous serial-killer tale about FBI profilers being picked off one by one during a training exercise on a remote island, essentially an update of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” A sharp cast led by LL Cool J, Kathryn Morris, Jonny Lee Miller, Val Kilmer and Christian Slater is unceremoniously tossed into this meat-grinder and left to rot in its bloody excess. A couple of the grisly, build-a-better-mousetrap methods used to snuff victims are kind of cool. But innumerable plot absurdities and clueless fingerpointing (“You’re the killer!” “No, you are!”) make this an empty-headed affair. How dumb are these people? When clues indicate two of them might be killed within the next 10 minutes, they go out of their way to pair off and separate. R for violence/strong graphic images, language and sexual content. 106 min. One and a half stars out of four.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer





“Unleashed” – Jet Li’s boy-raised-by-mobsters tale is one of the most intriguing action thrillers to come along in years. Like “La Femme Nikita” and “The Professional,” the best of screenwriter-producer Luc Besson’s work, the film is a half-and-half tale divided between nonstop sequences of vicious violence and quiet, wryly comic scenes of newfound domesticity. Co-stars Morgan Freeman and Bob Hoskins add rich dramatic weight as polar-opposite surrogate fathers competing for the heart, mind and deadly dangerous body of Li, who plays a man trained by a heartless loan shark to be a human attack dog. Director Louis Leterrier crafts cleverly choreographed fight scenes, but he also gets out of the way in the calm moments and lets his actors act. R for strong violent content, language and some sexuality/nudity. 103 min. Two and a half stars out of four.

– David Germain, AP Movie Writer


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