STEAMBOY

Seven-year-old Damien (Alex Etel), grieving the passing of his mother, sees saints, Catholic ones, so when a satchel full of cash tumbles from the sky, he naturally thinks it a gift from God. It's really bank-robbery loot, but by the time Damien and his older brother figure that out, the money's been released into the world. Millions is an intelligent children's film that may prove to be a guilty pleasure for adults, thanks to the virtuoso filmmaking of director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and a screenplay, by Frank Cottrell Boyce, that suggests even non-believers deserve happiness. (CW) (Countywide)

For his third feature as director, Campbell Scott has filmed Joan Ackermann's play about a family living in the farthest reaches of the New Mexico desert, and much like the characters it depicts, the film achieves a nearly total originality of expression. Just when and why these people—a part-Hopi woman (Joan Allen), her catatonically depressed husband (Sam Elliott) and their precocious 11-year-old daughter (superb newcomer Valentina de Angelis)—have dropped out is never revealed. But the time is the 1970s, and like the greatest American movies of that decade, Off the Map taps beautifully and beguilingly into the restlessness of the American soul. (SF) (EdwardsBreaStadiumEast;EdwardsParkPlace,Irvine;UAMarketplace,LongBeach)

Vin Diesel, you rocked my world in Pitch Black, owned that muscle car in The Fast and the Furious, extreme opped in XXX—and even when you went all drama in Boiler Room, I defended you. Setting aside Chronicles of Riddick, I've been willing to give your bald head, basso voice and Lee Marvin stoicism another chance. But The Pacifier is suddenly making my job a lot harder. A Navy Seal assigned to baby-sit five kids? Changing diapers? Vin, please, don't ever watch Kindergarten Cop again. (KM) (Countywide)

Now with less tortured Jesus! (AMCattheBlock,Orange;GalaxyCinemas,Anaheim)

Beware the marauding heffalump! That's a big purple elephant to you and me, but for Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Rabbit, a heffalump is a frightening creature of legend that must be captured before it invades the Hundred Acre Wood. So begins this amusing, beautifully drawn one-hour film, taken from the stories of A.A. Milne and centered on the budding friendship between Roo, son of Kanga, and Lumpy, a baby heffalump with a British accent. (CW) (Captain'sFamily,BreaandIrvine;EdwardsTustinMarketplace)

Dedicated to the attractive thesis that mothers must kill their children in order to winkle the evil out of them, this limp sequel to The Ring is directed with a notable lack of luster by Hideo Nakato, who made the Japanese prototype Ringu. Once again girl reporter Naomi Watts, wearing suspiciously full lips, scurries around the Pacific Northwest doing battle for the soul of her son with the wench who lives down a well and kills by videotape. As to the fright factor, while waiting out a textbook nasty scene involving deer and headlights, around me I heard the terrifying sound of . . . uncontrollable giggles. (ET) (Countywide)

Like its eponymous heroes, this CG-animated feature is a haphazardly riveted heap of hand-me-down parts—a chunk of The Wizard of Oz welded to bits of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and ideas borrowed from The Corporation. Despite some clever visual ideas, the movie also suffers from a fundamental failure of imagination: Whereas Pixar's Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and The Incredibles labored ingeniously to give us a toy's/monster's/superhero's view of the world, the robots of Robots come off as one-dimensional humans in tin clothing. (SF) (Countywide)

Twenty-seven years later, the camp and sass of transvestite Doctor Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), smarmy Riff Raff (auteur Richard O'Brien), plucky Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) and anal Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) all stuck in a castle doing the time warp, having orgies and eating Meatloaf still makes you either cheer or jeer—depending on your age and how much weed you smoke. (SD) (Sat.,midnightatArtTheatre,LongBeach)

Javier Bardem gives a revelatory performance as a middle-aged quadriplegic fighting the Spanish church and state for the right to die. Director Alejandro Amenábar (Open Your Eyes) may not have the intellectual chops to take on a topic as incendiary and full of nuance as assisted suicide—he doesn't give the opposing arguments the time of day. But he is an exquisitely expressive filmmaker: The Sea Inside is less about a legal struggle than about the evolution of a spirit, from the animal exuberance of an able-bodied young stud to a disillusioned, yet unbowed, passion for liberation from its disused body. (ET) (EdwardsParkPlace,Irvine)

Adapting Rex Pickett's novel about two middle-aged friends on a road trip down the middle of parallel existential life crises, director Alexander Payne remains alert to both the beauty of the American landscape and the trashiness of American life. Miles (Paul Giamatti) is intent on introducing Jack to the finer points of winetasting in the Santa Inez Valley; Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is preparing to marry the following weekend and intent upon shouting a last hurrah to singledom. Then an encounter with a waitress (Virginia Madsen) and a wine pourer (Sandra Oh) messes with both their agendas. Payne moves in a new direction with Sideways—one less mordant than, but just as pointedly observant as, that of About Schmidt or Election. (KM) (Countywide)

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