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MOVIES: In Review

&

145;Ice Age: The Meltdown&

delivers

Not to worry, kids, all the usual suspects are back in &

Ice Age: The Meltdown.&

Especially, Scrat, the squirrel-rat, who is so funny and tenacious and klutzy that he once again steals the movie, hands down. He says not a word, but then he doesn&

t have to. Every mannerism, every scheme to get the elusive acorn is priceless. But his antics are framed by a cast of delightful characters: Manny the mammoth, Sid the sloth, and Diego the saber-toothed tiger. And in this sequel, we are introduced to Ellie, Manny&

s possible love interest, a mammoth who thinks she&

s a possum, plus her two &

siblings,&

possums each, Crash and Eddie, two very kinetic youngsters who are in desperate need of a time-out.

The story is by any standard simple. The earth is getting warmer, the ice is melting, and the ice dam that is holding back the ocean from flooding the animals&

valley is about to give way. The gang has to get to the other end of the valley and higher ground. Otherwise they&

ll drown. So they begin the trek, with lots of precarious stops along the way. The only one to stay behind, still in the hunt for his acorn, is Scrat. But then that&

s understandable. How many acorns can there be in the arctic?

And for those who follow the evolution of animation, you&

ll once again see how far computer animation has come since the release of &

Toy Story.&

Alas, the days of Disney, when each movement was hand-drawn by hundreds of artists, are now quietly folded into history.

Mom and dad, if you haven&

t taken the kids to see &

Ice Age,&

don&

t wait another weekend. It&

s a lot of fun. Keep in mind that there are intense moments when the characters are in harm&

s way. But movies such as this always have a right ending, so no worries. Enjoy.

MOVIES: Now Playing

Wild

When a young lion is taken from his home in a zoo to the wild, his father leads a group of zoo animals - including a giraffe, an anaconda, a koala and a squirrel &

on a rescue mission. Voice talents of Kiefer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo, William Shatner.

G/85 min.

Thank You for Smoking

Nick Naylor, chief spokesman for Big Tobacco, makes his living defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers. Confronted by health zealots out to ban tobacco, and an opportunistic senator who wants to put poison labels on cigarette packs, Nick goes on a PR offensive. Aaron Eckhart, Robert Duvall, Katie Holmes.

R for language and some sexual content/92 min.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Filmed during a challenging point in the singer&

s career after major medical care, the songs are a mix of brand-new material with older standouts. The songs transcend the screen, as does Young himself - especially inspired when joined by longtime band mates, friends, and collaborators. His onstage dialogue is so natural you feel a part of that time and space with him. Demme&

s confident hand creates a new documentary freedom where Young&

s creative musical spirit becomes everything you need to know about the man himself. Directed by Jonathan Demme (&

Stop Making Sense,&

&

Silence of the Lambs&

).

PG for some drug related lyrics/103 min.

Benchwarmers

A trio of guys try and make up for missed athletic opportunities in childhood by forming a three-player baseball team to challenge a full squad of elementary school baseball players. Rob Schneider, David Spade, Jon Heder, Jon Lovitz, Craig Kilborn, Tim Meadows, Molly Sims.

PG-13 for crude and suggestive humor, and for language/85 min.

Lucky Number Slevin

A case of mistaken identity lands Slevin in the middle of a war being plotted by two rival crime bosses. Followed by a relentless detective and an infamous assassin, Slevin must try to escape alive from the maze in which he finds himself. Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Tucci.

R for strong violence, sexuality and language/110 min.

Take the Lead

A professional dancer volunteers to teach in the New York City public school system. When his classic methods clash with his students&

hip hop instincts, he teams up with them to create a new style of dance. Antonio Banderas, Alfre Woodard, Rob Brown.

PG-13 for thematic material, language and some violence/117 min.

Why We fight

A look at the American military and its links with big business, weaving personal stories with commentary by military and beltway insiders while asking some pertinent questions about the economic necessities of waging war. Speaking to a number of key figures including Republican Senator John McCain and author Gore Vidal, as well as lesser-known names such as Wilton Sekzer, a Vietman veteran and ex-New York City cop who lost his son in the World Trade center attacks, Jerecki&

s film is a bipartisan treatise that was inspired by Dwight Eisenhower&

s 1961 farewell address to the nation. Eisenhower spoke of a burgeoning American millitary-industrial complex which he believed would threaten democracy across the globe. A documentary written and directed by Eugene Jarecki (&

Trials of Henry Kissinger.&

).

PG-13 for brief language, drug use and a sexual reference/ 127 min.

Inside Man

A philosophical bank robber, out to stage the perfect heist, leads a group of detectives, lawyers and bank officials through a brilliantly constructed hall-of-mirrors ... where nothing is exactly as it seems. It is the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse, where right and wrong are blurred. Directed by Spike Lee (&

25th Hour,&

&

Malcolm X,&

&

Do the Right Thing&

) Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe.

R for language and some violent images/129 min.

Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

A rancher is brokenhearted by the discovery of his friend&

s dead body, an illegal Mexican immigrant killed by a Border Control agent, and takes the law into his own hands. Directed by Tommy Lee Jones. Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones.

R for language, violence and sexuality/121 min.