'Life of Pi'

Suraj Sharma stars as a young man adrift at sea with a tiger on his life boat. Honest. Told in flashbacks, most of this studious film is about how this extremely odd couple manages to survive a shipwreck together.

Director Ang Lee won an Oscar for his work, and, while the film is admirable, I'd be hard-pressed to say it was the best of the nominees. More deserved are the Academy Awards "Pi" picked up for cinematography and special effects. The fictitious tiger is startlingly lifelike.

The pace of the film is slow, never boring, but also a bit too languid to keep my short attention span fully engaged. The central question of whether our young hero will survive is answered from the outset and the relationship between boy and tiger isn't deep enough to sustain the healthy length of the movie.

Kids younger than 10 are likely to be too scared by some near-death scenes, and those who aren't will certainly be bored. (PG: Peril). 2 hours and 7 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2½ stars

Kids: 1½ stars

Teens: 2 stars

Adults: 2½ stars

Seniors: 3 stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- a thoughtful drama for adults and seniors.

'Trouble with the Curve'

I forgave Clint Eastwood his chair-assisted debacle at the Republican National Convention almost as soon as it ended. While an extremely poor political orator, Eastwood has proved his worth as a director and actor.


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So I approached his latest film with open-minded optimism. Which was, sadly, proven unwarranted. Eastwood plays an über-crotchety baseball scout losing his vision, with Amy Adams as his estranged daughter. Justin Timberlake is in it, too, presumably because he's cute.

"Curve" tries to do too much. There's a troubled father-daughter relationship, a romantic love story and a paean to baseball. Only the father-daughter part works, and it's too diluted by the other bits to be exceptional. The cookie-cutter script and underwhelming acting seals the fate.

Appropriate for kids 11 years old and up, though they won't like it. (PG-13: Language). 1 hour and 51 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2 stars

Kids: 1½ stars

Teens: 2 stars

Adults: 2 stars

Seniors: 2½ stars

Should you watch it? No -- a baseball love story that strikes out.

'Rise of the Guardians'

A cartoon with the creative premise that all of our best-known childhood characters -- Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy -- are part of a "Justice League"-style team that comes together to battle bad guys.

I liked the concept more than the execution. The animation style was too dark, while the script failed to capture the utter awe that kids hold for these mythical beings. Alec Baldwin as Santa and Hugh Jackman at the Bunny add no perceptible value.

Best for kids 6 years old and up. (PG: Peril). 1 hour and 37 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2 stars

Kids: 3 stars

Teens: 1½ stars

Adults: 2 stars

Seniors: 2 stars

Should you watch it? No -- a mediocre animated kid flick.

J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at jason@alderman.net.

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