The Missing 2 of 5 stars Directed by: Ron Howard Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett Rated: R

Breaking away from his built-for-an-Oscar work on A Beautiful Mind, Ron Howard presents a less commercial, less inspired offering in The Missing. Set in rural New Mexico in the late 19th century, the tedious and thin plot finds Maggie (Cate Blanchett) accepting the help of her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) in a heroic hunt for her teenage daughter Lily. Lily is just one in a group kidnapped by a pack of Indians and whites, looking to sell the young girls for cash across the southern border.

The Missing may be crafted slickly, but it is too often distracted to present consistently engaging plot and characters. Two other annoyingly common mistakes bog down the film considerably. First, the scenic shots may be breathtaking but are too long and too many. Second, Jenna Boyd, who plays Maggie's younger daughter, Dot, is wretched: most every scene she appears in is agonizing. By and large a waste of famed talent, this movie just isn't worth the bother.

-- Bryce Neuman

Shattered Glass 4 of 5 stars Directed by: Billy Ray Starring: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chlo‰ Sevigny Rated: PG-13

Happily, Shattered Glass, the tragic tale of Penn graduate and former Daily Pennsylvanian Executive Editor Stephen Glass (C '94) delves more into emotional, creepily desperate territory (a la The Talented Mr. Ripley) than it does the lopsided cautionary biopic many had feared.

Hayden Christensen plays Glass, a bright associate editor at The New Republic so driven by self-pity, inadequacy and the need to impress everyone that he partially or completely fabricates 27 of his 41 TNR articles. Although Darth Vader (as Christensen soon will be known) struggles a bit in his first top-billed role, the real breakout star here is Sarsgaard, as the quietly sharp editor who uncovers Glass' web of deceit. The film provides few surprises and fewer laughs, but it's wonderful to know that filmmakers can still create drama sans cackling caricatures, expensive-looking sunglasses and robots with lasers.

-- Jeff Levin

Gothika 1 of 5 stars Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz Starring: Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr., Penelope Cruz Rated: R

Halle Berry plays psychiatrist Dr. Miranda Gray, who wakes up one day to find she is a patient in her own psychiatric ward. Robert Downey Jr. finds himself on the other side of the bars as her doctor, trying to decide whether she is crazy or not. Berry must go on a journey through the paranormal to find the truth and prove her sanity.

I wish I could tell you that Gothika is a good movie. I also wish I could tell you I have never seen it. Both, unfortunately, are untrue. While Berry and Downey's performances are tolerable, the plot is totally ludicrous. The "scary" scenes rely solely on loud noise to frighten the audience, a tactic that usually ends up with the entire theater erupting in laughter. The movie, however, does make one good point in that... oh wait, I was just reading my last sentence. Do not waste your time or money on this sub-par movie.

-- Bryce Neuman

TV Movie

National Lampoon's Thanksgiving Reunion 3 of 5 stars Directed by: Neal Israel Starring: Bryan Cranston, Judge Reinhold, Penelope Ann Miller Airing: TBS Sunday Nov. 23, 8 p.m.

This movie is absolutely hilarious. Judge Reinhold plays a wealthy L.A. doctor who longs for some old-fashioned, middle-America holiday goodness, and finds it when he and his long-lost Cousin Woodrow Snider's families reunite for a fabulous Thanksgiving's holiday. The characters are wonderfully quirky: there is a boy who likes to put spiders down his pants, a geriatric with explosive flatulence who seems to have trouble keeping his pants on and an intensely drugged-out hippie couple that likes to have sex wearing Sonnie and Cher wigs. To give you a taste of the festive humor sported in this film, Mrs. Woodrow Snider won't serve the Thanksgiving turkey, Chester, unless he dies of natural causes. (Good thing Chester has T.B.!) In the end (it's a nail-biter), that turkey is on its last legs. Fortunately, this film is not. It's outrageously hysterical, deliciously scandalous and an overall festively fun viewing experience. Good times!

-- Maggie Hennefeld


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