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The Heartbreak Kid, The Jane Austen Book Club, Michael Clayton, others

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THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING The dark may have been rising, but my eyelids were repeatedly falling as I struggled to stay awake during this interminable and exhausting film. Based on one of the books in Susan Cooper's award-winning fantasy series, The Seeker comes across less as a faithful adaptation of a beloved story than as a cash-in-quick product meant to appease small kids who can't abide the waits between Harry Potter or Narnia flicks. The story concerns itself with Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig), an American kid living in a quaint British burg with his large family. Young Will learns from Deadwood's Ian McShane and other village protectors that he's the only person who can enter the eternal fray between "the light" and "the dark" and protect the planet from being conquered by an evil entity known as The Rider (Christopher Eccleston). This designation allows Will to draw upon his heretofore unknown abilities to travel through time, telekinetically start fires, and make a mean martini (OK, just kidding on that last one). About the best one can say regarding The Seeker is that at least it's preferable to last year's Eragon, another Fox fantasy yarn with variable special effects, a vapid youth for a lead, and a tendency to plagiarize at will. But when the movie's not excruciatingly dull, it's downright cheesy, thanks to the sort of stylistic flourishes (slo-mo action, deliberately shaky camerawork, frame-filling close-ups of furrowed brows) that inspire giggles when the material doesn't warrant such pseudo-hipster treatment. The smallest children might indeed be wowed by The Seeker, but everyone else will be seeking the nearest exit. *1/2

2 DAYS IN PARIS Not to be confused with the Paris Hilton porn flick One Night in Paris (yes, let's not make that mistake), 2 Days in Paris is a romantic comedy in which both the romance and the comedy are of the sour-pucker variety. The romance is diluted by the sort of emotional outbursts, petty tirades and jealous rages that often define real-life relationships: As we watch 30-something lovers Marion (Julie Delpy) and Jack (Adam Goldberg) spend a couple of testy days in the title city, we wonder if they'll make it through the picture together, let alone remain a couple for the rest of their lives. As for the humor, it's smart and tart, not only springing from the lovers' innate insecurities but also from the xenophobic attitudes that seem to run rampant in every city in the world. Delpy, who's been appearing in movies since she was a child (she's 37 now), exhibits great multitasking capabilities by serving as star, director, scripter, co-producer, editor, score composer and co-writer of the end credit tune. A vanity project? Hardly; more like the work of an accomplished filmmaker who knew exactly what type of movie she wanted to make. Besides, her generosity toward her co-stars is apparent throughout the film: Goldberg is allowed to match her quip for quip, while her real-life parents, Albert Delpy and Marie Pillet, steal scenes as her character's folks. A bit less starry-eyed than Richard Linklater's European twofer, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (both starring Delpy opposite Ethan Hawke), 2 Days in Paris nevertheless displays a generosity of spirit, even if it's tempered with a pinch of melancholy. A problematic relationship is indeed sad, the film seems to say, but luckily, there will always be enough love to go around in this crazy world of ours. ***1/2

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