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We recommend: Knocked Up, Once, Paprika, PierrepointThe Last Hangman

GRACIE
In what could be construed as a very expensive home movie, the Shues (siblings Elisabeth and Andrew, of the proud glares and somewhat less reliable acting ability) rally to tell the story of how soccer saved a family in the wake of an eldest son's death. Directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth), Gracie draws on several aspects of Shue family history, including the death of their older brother and Elisabeth's determination to play soccer with the boys growing up in New Jersey in the '70s. The title character (Carly Schroeder) idolizes older brother and soccer star Will, whose death sends her family, particularly father and coach (a valiant Dermot Mulroney), into a tailspin. Gracie's dream is to play on her brother's soccer team and score the big goal for him, but the men (and The Man) have other ideas. Firing on all formulaic cylinders, Gracie is heavy with tidy meaning and mealy morality; the most dubious idea here is that if you don't let a girl play soccer, she just may turn to cigarettes, halter tops, and sex with the starting forward. (Michelle Orange) (Countywide)

MR. BROOKS
Bloody disappointing, that's what Mr. Brooks is. Kevin Costner plays a respectable Seattle businessman who kills for thrills, thanks to the goading of an imaginary friend who looks a whole lot like William Hurt. Costner's Earl Brooks is such a square (appropriate, perhaps, for a man who made his fortune in box manufacturing) that he kills all of two people in the movie's first 90 minutes or so. If only Mr. Brooks weren't trying so hard to make some point about the hereditary nature of addiction it might have been fun. Instead we get a morality tale in which a father (Costner) passes along to his daughter (Danielle Panabaker) his killer genes and then tries to reverse the cycle of addiction, lest his little girl wind up as tortured as he claims to be. Mr. Brooks mutters to himself The Serenity Prayer ("God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . . ") and goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (where he admits only to being "an addict"), but the device is hollow and ham-fisted—a slight gag meant to elicit an ironic chuckle, not illuminate a character so barely fleshed out he's little more than a bespectacled skeleton firing blanks at the audience's heads. (Robert Wilonsky) (Countywide)

THE WEDDING VIDEO
This film was not screened in time for our reviewers. (Art Theatre, Long Beach)

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