George Clooney and Vera Farmiga in Up in the AirUP IN THE AIR

Heading to Chicagoland on December 23, I spent the whole of my journey driving through a torrential and laughably unseasonable rainstorm, and the trek that normally takes two-and-three-quarter hours wound up taking close to four. Consequently, I missed out on dinner with my folks, arriving in town just in time to meet them for our planned evening screening of the new George Clooney movie.

Carlos Ponce, Vince Vaughn, and Malin Akerman in Couples RetreatCOUPLES RETREAT

The trouble-in-paradise comedy Couples Retreat may be criminally inane, yet you can't say that co-writers/co-stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau aren't smart as tacks. Together with collaborator Dana Fox, they scripted a breathtakingly lazy and insipid vehicle that guaranteed them a two-month vacation on locales in Bora Bora and Tahiti, and somehow convinced Universal Pictures to pick up the tab. How ever did they do it? And how can we ensure that they never, ever do it again?

Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in All About SteveALL ABOUT STEVE

It's one thing for a movie to present its audience with hateful characters. It's quite another when the movie itself appears to hate its characters, and in the depressingly, almost sadistically unamusing All About Steve, very little reads beyond the filmmakers' contempt for the "lovable" whack-job they're purportedly championing. I've seen stupider movies this year - at least two or three of them - but I don't think I've endured one that annoyed me more than this new Sandra Bullock vehicle by director Phil Traill, which humiliates its star at every turn, and humiliates you for spending 100 minutes trying to make sense of it.

Leslie Mann and Zac Efron in 17 Again

17 AGAIN

If there were any lingering doubts as to whether the body-switching comedy 17 Again was tailored specifically for heartthrob Zac Efron, you should know that in the movie's very first scene, Efron's character, Mike O'Donnell, not only appears as the star player of a high school basketball team, but quickly breaks into a spontaneous, energetic dance routine with the cheerleaders. That's right, folks! It's High School Musical: Big-ger and Better!

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