The Perfect Game

As much as I wanted “The Perfect Game” to be a fearless Mexican version of “The Bad News Bears,” the picture just wasn’t in a wish-granting mood.

More of an inspirational tale compounded with a true story, “Game” is a feature of sheer earnestness, which tends to grate and persuade with equal determination. However, it’s easy to praise the film’s gushing heart, which might be enough to satisfy less demanding audience members in the mood for a few smiles and cheers; a sparkling tale of baseball triumph ideally issued for the first week of the season.

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Rating: B-
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Date Night

Tina Fey and Steve Carell are two extremely formidable comedians, and thank heavens someone, somewhere had the good sense to pair them up for a feature film.

While wobbly at times, “Date Night” is a perfectly pleasant, often uproarious action comedy that makes good use of their gifts and their surprising chemistry as an exhausted married couple. Even with Shawn Levy directing, “Date Night” is a consistent delight.

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Rating: B+
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The Runaways

“The Runaways” opens tight on a drop of menstrual blood. This image can be digested three ways: a sign of oncoming womanhood, a defiant stand of earthy feminism, or a wildly accurate reflection of director Floria Sigismondi’s irritating fixation on details that have little to do with the amazing story of the band in question.

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Rating: D-
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The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond

A painfully low-budget horror turkey, “The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond” at least has a corker of a premise: think a satanic version of “Jumanji.”

What director Gabriel Bologna actually does with this picture is less devilishly enchanting, punishing the viewer with atrocious acting, formulaic plotting, and ghastly scripting. Cinematic ambition is one thing, but execution is what matters most, and this feature is missing a stimulating directorial imagination to sell what could’ve been something amusingly heinous.

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Rating: D+
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Cleanflix

Imagine “The Matrix,” with all of its eye-popping violence, sensuality, and salty language giving the material its very identity, as intended by the filmmakers.

Now picture “The Matrix” stripped of its coarseness, boiled down to a family-friendly adventure without bite and, for the most part, creative logic. In Utah, a war against sin has been waged for the last decade, pitting Hollywood legal firepower against a hungry Mormon movie nation, clamoring for blockbusters without balls.

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Rating: B
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Paper Man

“Paper Man” has the appearance of a deeply felt, earnest film concerning unfinished emotional business.

It literalizes the burden of guilt in strange seriocomic ways, but the film as a whole is a woeful misfire of inexplicable outbursts and overpowering performances. “Paper Man” certainly reaches out for a hug and demands a few tears, but the execution of the film is irritating, making this sensitive picture dishearteningly hopeless and, at least during a few key moments of the feature, seemingly endless.

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Rating: D+
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