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New film releases this week

What to watch and avoid when heading to the movie theater

‘Cedar Rapids’
Director: Miguel Arteta
Cast: Ed Helms, John C. Reilly
Rating: R
Grade: 2 (out-of-5)

“Cedar Rapids” is best described as a Sundance comedy; a character- based film that is not a laugh a minute. In fact, it’s not even a laugh every five minutes. Ed Helms, as a small-town schlub exposed to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll at an insurance convention in the “big” city of Cedar Rapids, hands in his now- standard — but still charming — man-child performance. But there’s too much space between the funny bits to call this an outright comedy, and not enough interesting stuff to make it anything else. –Richard Crouse/Metro

‘Gnomeo & Juliet’
Director: Kelly Asbury
Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt
Rating: G
Grade: 3 (out-of-5)

Shakespeare gets a 3-D, animated makeover in “Gnomeo & Juliet,” a wacky retelling of the Bard’s most famous play about two star-crossed lovers who were not meant to fall in love. In this case, the suitors are clay garden gnomes from warring lawns. It’s a thin premise likely originated from the novelty title alone, but the film’s light zaniness actually plays well onscreen. Clever gags and wordplay carry the film, even if the featured songs of Elton John seem slightly out of place. –Steve Gow/Metro

‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’
Director: Jon Chu
Cast: Justin Bieber
Rating: G
Grade: 3 (out-of-5)

Generally, these kinds of music biographies are simply made up of backstage footage and embarrassing childhood photos wedged in between the tunes. This film follows the rules, but what really sells “Never Say Never” is the picture it paints of Justin Bieber, international heartthrob, before he got famous. The way the film presents it, he’s less pre-packaged than other teen stars.

However, the portrayal of Bieber as an underdog seems glaringly disingenuous at this point. Anyone selling out Madison Square Garden within minutes is no underdog. If anything, he is a new kind of business model — fame by YouTube. How 21st century. –Richard Crouse/Metro

‘The Eagle’
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell
Rating: PG-13
Grade: 3 (out-of-5)

Always about two steps away from self-parody, this serious-minded quasi-epic about a Roman soldier charting Scotland in 140 A.D. with his British slave is rife with cliches, but that won’t destroy your enjoyment of the film. Leads Tatum and Bell (mostly Bell) bring dignity to the film by taking it seriously ... and looking hot. A buddy road comedy it’s not, but “Eagle” is
well-paced, insubstantial fun. –Heidi Patalano/Metro

 
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