"An American Haunting" (PG). Not reviewed. Courtney Solomon directs this thriller based on a true story of the only known United States incident of a spirit killing a person. Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek star. Opens May 5.
"Hoot" (PG). Not reviewed. Luke Wilson stars in the kids-oriented drama as a boy who fights a trio of greedy land developers and politicians whose construction project threatens to disturb endangered owls. Wil Shriner directs; pop star Jimmy Buffet is a producer. Opens May 5.
"La Mujer de Mi Hermano" (R). Peruvian director Ricardo de Montreuil's soap opera is about a desperate housewife who is unhappy with her wealthy husband, secretly has an affair with his bohemian artist brother, and thereby embarks on a new definition of family. This Spanish-language melodrama may not transcend its genre, but it sure has fun with it. Grade: B- Opens May 5 at Muvico Egyptian 24.
"Mission: Impossible III" (PG-13). J.J. Abrams directs the latest installment of the action series starring Tom Cruise. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ving Rhames and Billy Crudup star. Opens May 5.
"Akeelah and the Bee" (PG). This inspirational spelling bee drama is completely predictable, but its good intentions and performances make you root for the young African-American student who is its precocious protagonist. With Keke Palmer, Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"American Dreamz" (PG-13). A president seeks to boost his popularity by being a guest judge on an "American Idol"-type TV show. Writer-director Paul Weitz aims at easy targets and hits surprisingly few of them owing to a pedestrian script and the absence of an overall point of view about the material. Reality is funnier than this satire starring Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Willem Dafoe, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Klein and Jennifer Coolidge. Grade: C Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"The Benchwarmers" (PG-13). David Spade, Jon Heder and Rob Schneider play adult losers who challenge an arrogant team of Little League-age players in this poorly conceived baseball comedy. In fact, the only thing it seems likely to win is inclusion on a list of the year's worst movies. Grade: D Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Friends With Money" (R). This ensemble comedy about a group of middle-aged female friends benefits from fine performances by Catherine Keener, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack, but unfortunately the central character is played by Jennifer Aniston. The scripting for her character is rather sketchy, and Aniston is out of her league as an actor here. Still, there are enough incisively written and acted scenes to make it worth your money. Grade: B- Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Hard Candy" (R). A fashion photographer (Patrick Wilson) propositions an underage girl (Ellen Page) in a drama that yearns to be provocative, but its improbable plot twists and even more dubious ethical stance literally make the movie torture to watch. Grade: C- Muvico Egyptian 24
"Ice Age: The Meltdown" (PG). This animated sequel about prehistoric creatures fleeing melting ice has enough snappy comic dialogue and lively adventures to hold the attention of young moviegoers. Vocal talent includes Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Queen Latifah. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Inside Man" (R). Director Spike Lee's most commercially oriented film is an entertaining bank heist and hostage drama in which he once again demonstrates how well he understands the characters and issues percolating in New York. The fine cast includes Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer and Willem Dafoe. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"RV" (PG). Robin Williams is in sentimental dad mode in this so-so road comedy about a family vacation mostly spent in the title vehicle. The jokes generally don't rise above the level of a seemingly endless raw sewage episode. Grade: C+ Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Scary Movie 4" (PG-13). Surprisingly, there still are laughs to be had this far into the movie-spoofing series. The targets this time out include "War of the Worlds," "The Village," "The Grudge" and "Brokeback Mountain." It's all so random and juvenile that the best advice is to let yourself go and giggle. Grade: B- Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"The Sentinel" (PG-13). Preposterous plotting aside, it's enjoyable watching Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas rip into each other as feuding Secret Service agents who must shelve their personal dispute in order to discover the identity of a rogue agent planning to kill the president. The political details and melodramatic motivation tend to be fuzzy, but the action sequences are loud and diverting. Grade: B- Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Silent Hill" (R). A mother and daughter venture into a West Virginia ghost town that proves to be quite the hellish place. Supernatural events happen at such a hectic pace that the already slight video game-derived story degenerates into total nonsense, and the two-hour running time qualifies as another sort of hell. Grade: C Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Stick It" (PG-13). Not even the hyperactive camerawork and editing can enliven this formulaic sports comedy about a reluctant gymnast (Missy Peregrym) encouraged to get back into competitive shape by a tough but caring coach (Jeff Bridges). Grade: C Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"Take the Lead" (PG-13). Following on the heels of the documentary "Mad Hot Ballroom," this inspirational drama concerns an idealistic man who teaches ballroom dancing to New York City public school students. Antonio Banderas' charismatic performance largely overcomes a superficial script. Grade: B- Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"United 93" (PG-13). The hijacked airplane that went down in a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001 is the all too real basis for this grimly effective, moment by moment account by writer-director Paul Greengrass ("Bloody Sunday,"The Bourne Supremacy"). Adding to the verisimilitude is the smart choice to use unknown actors rather than recognizable stars. Grade: B Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
"The Wild" (G). Watching this relentlessly loud animated comedy about New York zoo animals taking an unauthorized trip to Africa is like seeing "Madagascar" all over again. It initially might seem impressive to have vocal talent including Kiefer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo and William Shatner, but everything is so shrill that going along on this voyage will make you want to jump ship. Grade: C Snowden Square 14, AMC Columbia Mall 14, Muvico Egyptian 24
All capsule reviews and grades by Mike Giuliano unless otherwise noted. Bookings change on Friday. For showtimes and to confirm listings, call the phone-in number in Screen Scene or follow the local movie prompts at www.howardcountytimes.com.
AMC Columbia Mall 14 Columbia Town Center, Columbia, 410-423-0520
Snowden Square Stadium 14 9161 Commerce Center Drive, Columbia, 410-872-0670
Charles Theatre 1711 N. Charles St., Baltimore, 410-727-FILM
Maryland Science Center IMAX Theater 601 Light St., Baltimore, 410-685-5225
Muvico Egyptian 24 Arundel Mills Boulevard at Route 100, Hanover, 443-755-8992
West Nursery 14 1591 W. Nursery Road, Linthicum, 410-850-8999