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Summary Judgment: 'Monster House,' Clerks 2,' 'Lady in the Water,' 'My Super Ex-Girlfriend'


A lot of new movies to talk about this week. Each Friday we bring you a digest of what critics are saying about the new films, as compiled by the online magazine Slate. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.


First up is the computer-animated comedy Monster House. Three kids battle a mysterious house that threatens anyone who crosses its path.

(Soundbite of movie, Monster House)

Unidentified Male #1 (Actor): (As Character) I don't want to steal drugs from my father, I don't want to go inside a monster, and I don't want to die.

Unidentified Female (Actor): (As Character) I say it's worth a shot.

Unidentified Male #2 (Actor): (As Character) Yes I agree. Let's do it.

LEGAN: The critics pretty much like this eerie, scary film. The Philadelphia Inquirer raves, Easily the best computer-animated feature in a long while; and the Minneapolis Star Tribune shouts, Comprehensively creepy, often funny, a little bit touching, and exciting.

Next up, also in wide release, is Kevin Smith's Clerks 2. That's right, those slacker clerks are back: older, wiser, and now insulting people as fast-food employees.

(Soundbite of movie, Clerks 2)

Unidentified Actor #3 (Actor): (As Character) You know, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts when you two aren't fighting about who shot first, Han or Greedo, you can still muster up enough energy to make fun of other people.

Unidentified Actor #4 (Actor): (As Character) Yeah, so hurry up and order and get out of here so we can make fun of you.

LEGAN: The nation's critics don't mind revisiting these characters, even though a few truly hated it, like the Arizona Republic, which gripes, I don't think Smith could've made a worse movie if he tried, and keep in mind, I've seen Jersey Girl. But the Atlanta Journal-Constitution promises, Clerks 2 brings Smith back to his roots and his strengths as a writer-director.

Another wide release is the fantasy-drama The Lady In the Water. From acclaimed writer-director M. Night Shyamalan comes the story of a building manager who rescues a strange woman from the apartment pool, only to realize she is not from this world. Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard star.

(Soundbite of movie, Lady in the Water)

Mr. PAUL GIAMATTI (Actor): (As Cleveland Heep) Calm down. How'd you get those scratches? Did the eagle come? Did something go wrong? Story? Story? Was it that dog again?

(Soundbite of crash)

LEGAN: The critics pretty much want to throw Lady in the Water back. Even though the Washington Post weakly supported it by saying, If the ultimate goal is entertainment, then the film enthusiastically rises to the task, the majority of the reviews agree with Entertainment Weekly, which gurgles, The director's most alienating and self-absorbed project to date. And the Los Angeles Times simply declares it a major misfire.

And we close with the action-comedy My Super Ex-Girlfriend. Luke Wilson stars as a young man who tries to break up with his girlfriend, only to discover she is actually a superhero, and, well, hell hath no fury like a superwoman scorned. Uma Thurman stars in this latest film from Ivan Reitman.

(Soundbite of movie, My Super Ex-Girlfriend)

Ms. UMA THURMAN (Actress): (As Jenny Johnson/G-Girl) I had a feeling that you'd realize your mistake and come back to me.

Mr. LUKE WILSON (Actor): (As Matt Saunders) You are wise.

Ms. THURMAN: Do you want to know a secret?

Mr. WILSON: Sure.

Ms. THURMAN: That's why I didn't kill you.

LEGAN: Some critics want to continue seeing this and others are glad to break up on the spot. Mediocre, sneers the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution warns, Everything about it feels clumsy and cut-rate. But the Minneapolis Star Tribune says, It's a silly premise but it works beautifully. And USA Today cheers, Not only the funniest film of summer, it may be the best superhero movie since Spiderman.

Hey, maybe so, but I'd like to see Spiderman handle getting dumped by Mary Jane. You know, the endless voicemails, swinging by her window on a web unannounced to see if she's home, having the Green Goblin kidnap her just so they can get back together. You know, the usual breakup stuff.

(Soundbite of music)

ADAMS: Mark Jordan Legan is a Los Angeles writer. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan