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Movie Guide

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NEW RELEASES
The Backyard (Not rated)

Director: Paul Hough. With enthusiasts of backyard wrestling. (88 min.)

Sterritt * This is a documentary about backyard wrestling, where opponents thrash each other with barbed wire, heave each other into flaming pits, and the like - most of which turns out to be relatively harmless when the trickery behind it is exposed. More of that trickery comes to light as the film proceeds, and eventually you realize the whole movie has been about young showoffs who think it's uproarious to gross out neighborhood grownups.

CURRENTLY IN RELEASE
American Splendor (R)

Directors: Shari Springer Berman, Robert Pulcini. With Paul Giamatti, Hope Davis, Harvey Pekar. (100 min.)

Sterritt **** This movie breaks all the rules, offering a partly fictionalized look at the life and times of Pekar, a writer of underground comic books who earns most of his living as a file clerk and finds an equally idiosyncratic comics fan, Brabner, to be his wife. Pekar and Brabner are played by Giamatti and Davis, but also appear as themselves in interview sequences. It's emotionally poignant, socially revealing, and wildly entertaining.

Staff ***1/2 Wry humor, ode to an antihero, triumphant.

Sex/Nudity: 2 innuendoes. Violence: 1 slap. Profanity: 20 profanities. Drugs: 2 drinking, smoking scenes.

Freaky Friday (PG)

Director: Mark Waters. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Harold Gould, Mark Harmon. (93 min.)

Sterritt *** This delicious remake of Disney's popular 1976 comedy stars Curtis and Lohan as a middle-aged mother and teen daughter who inexplicably exchange bodies, causing each to live in the other's shoes (and jeans, dresses, and underwear) for a confusing and amusing 24-hour period. Lohan is winsome, Curtis is even better, and there's hardly a special effect in sight. The only freaky thing about this "Friday" is its delightful difference from the trendy eye candy that's come to dominate family-friendly filmmaking.

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