- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

“Little Fockers” _ Meet the latest in Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller’s comedy franchise. Grit your teeth through the fairly short though agonizing duration of its stay. Then wave goodbye in relief as its huge cast of characters departs like the annoying in-laws they are. “Meet the Parents” was a tolerable trifle and “Meet the Fockers” was a bloated bore. But this third installment is tasteless trash, filled with abysmally unfunny gags involving vomit, enemas, erectile dysfunction and the like. Director Paul Weitz delivers a string of dumb episodes as De Niro’s father-in-law from hell again puts Stiller’s nervous son-in-law under surveillance. The whole gang returns, including Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Owen Wilson, Teri Polo and Blythe Danner, with Jessica Alba, Laura Dern and Harvey Keitel joining the cast. Hopefully, the Fockers will call it quits after this. We don’t need these in-laws coming to visit again. PG-13 for mature sexual humor throughout, language and some drug content. 98 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

_ David Germain, AP Movie Writer

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“Somewhere” _ In gauzy portraits of privileged isolation, Sofia Coppola has situated her characters in a Tokyo hotel (“Lost in Translation”), the opulent remove of Versailles (“Marie Antoinette”) and now, in her new film, at Los Angeles’ celebrity-infested Chateau Marmont. Though she gently coaxes her characters out of their insulation and toward the outside world, her talent is in her eye for cloistered, disaffected decadence. “Somewhere,” which won the top prize at the Venice International Film Festival, stars Stephen Dorff as a famous Hollywood actor, Johnny Marco. He lives at the Chateau Marmont where he lazily and indiscriminately passes the time between dutifully heeding the phone calls of his publicist. Handsome and aloof, he’s living a vapid, easy life. When his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) is left with him for weeks, he’s very subtly transformed. Coppola is brilliant at capturing mood, but substance isn’t her game. As she did in “Lost in Translation,” she aims for a sudden rush of meaningfulness at the end of the film, but the weight isn’t there. “Somewhere” ultimately passes like a soft breeze down Sunset. R for sexual content, nudity and language. 98 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

_ Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

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“True Grit” _ One of the most mainstream, crowd-pleasing films Joel and Ethan Coen have ever made. It’s sort of a screwball Western, if you will, with vivid performances and strikingly vast, picturesque vistas, the always gorgeous work of the always great Roger Deakins, the Coens’ frequent cinematographer. But it’s a minor entry from the writing-directing brothers, especially when you consider the inventiveness and strength of their canon and the close aesthetic resemblance to “No Country for Old Men,” their masterpiece. While “True Grit” is entertaining, it’s also surprisingly lacking in emotional resonance, as well as the intriguing sense of ambiguity that so often permeates Coen pictures. Only toward the end does it feel like anything is at stake, but at least it’s enjoyable while you’re waiting. Hailee Steinfeld in her film debut is a revelation as Mattie Ross, the 19th-century pioneer teenager who demands vengeance for her father’s murder. She seeks help from a man she hears has true grit: one-eyed, alcoholic U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn. Jeff Bridges plays the role that earned John Wayne his only Academy Award as gruff and grizzled, a lawman who’s lived a long and well-lubricated life, but who also has attained a certain Zen-like self-possession about it. Matt Damon again proves he can do anything, joining the duo on the trail as a preening Texas Ranger. PG-13 for some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images. 110 minutes. Three stars out of four.

_ Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic