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Film Clips: This weekend's movie openings and more March 25 2010

Too hot in the hot tub? We think not...

OPENING FRIDAY

CHLOE 4 stars (R) A Toronto gynecologist (Julianne Moore) suffering a mid-life crisis tests her husband’s (Liam Neeson) fidelity by hiring a young call girl (Amanda Seyfried) to flirt with him. Despite the borderline-ridiculous subject matter, director Atom Egoyan and his terrific cast create rich characterizations and compelling examples of obsession and self-doubt. The final scene veers too far into melodrama, but overall, Chloe’s insight into the complexities of sexuality gives erotic thrillers a good name. – Curt Holman

GREENBERG (R) Ben Stiller stars in this cringe-inducing comedy about a New Yorker drifting through the lives of several Los Angelenos. Directed by Noah Baumbach, who helmed The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (R)  Three estranged friends, Adam, Lou and Nick, (John Cusack, Rob Corddry and Craig Robinson) try to reconnect through a booze- and energy drink-fueled hot tub rave. They cause a rupture in the space/time continuum, and the three, along with Adam's nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), get sent back to 1986. Think Back to the Future meets A Christmas Carol on cocaine.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 4 stars (PG) A wimpy Viking (voiced by Jay Baruchel) captures a dragon and opts to train rather than kill it, in defiance of the violent traditions embodied by his father (Gerard Butler). Matching lavish designs, thrilling battle scenes and breezy comedy, How To Train Your Dragon does for dragon-fighting what Kung Fu Panda did for martial arts. While DreamWorks animation used to specialize in pop references and bathroom humor, the studio manages to make a movie about Vikings – Vikings! – with scarcely a belch joke. Plus, it looks great in IMAX 3-D. -- Holman

PRODIGAL SONS 4 stars (Not Rated) Kimberly Reed’s autobiographical documentary validates clichés of truth being stranger than fiction. The film begins with Reed, a tall, willowy blonde, returning to her Montana home town worried about her reception at her high school reunion – since her class mates will remember her when she was a young man. The fraught transgender tensions turn out to be a subplot to Prodigal Sons, as Reed finds her primary conflict with her adopted brother, who suffers from mood swings and memory problems due to a brain injury, and, flabbergastingly, discovers through the course of the film that he’s related to Hollywood royalty. The film doesn’t dig quite as deeply as such dysfunctional family docs as Capturing the Friedmans, but still proves to be a gripping film about the complexities of identity and kinship. — Holman

OPENING WEDNESDAY

THE LAST SONG (PG) A rebellious girl (Miley Cyrus) reconnects to her estranged father (Greg Kinnear) over a summer at a Southern beach town in this tear-jerker from Nicholas Sparks.

DULY NOTED

FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964) 3 stars (NR) Ray Harryhausen, stop-motion animation wizard of such films as the original Clash of the Titans, provides the effects for this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1901 novel that envisions mankind’s first visit to the moon, and various creepy aliens and monsters waiting there. Silver Scream Spook Show. March 27, 1 and 10 p.m. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce De Leon Ave., $8-$12. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.

THE ROOM (2003) 1 star (R ) This hilariously incompetent, sub-Skinemax-level romantic triangle has become a wildly entertaining monthly viewing party, a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau strikes a freaky presence as a long-haired, heavy-lidded, thick-accented bank employee cuckolded by his vicious fiancée (Juliette Danielle). The film’s bizarre touches, like framed photographs of spoons, inspire audiences to throw plastic spoons at the screen, and more. Not to be missed. Screens Tues., March 30, 9:30 p.m. $8. Plaza Theatre, 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave. 404-873-1939. www.plazaatlanta.com.