Summary Judgment: Film Romance and Ridiculousness Mark Jordan Legan rounds up what critics are saying about new releases. Up for review are The Other Boleyn Girl, Semi-Pro, and Chicago 10.
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Summary Judgment: Film Romance and Ridiculousness

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Summary Judgment: Film Romance and Ridiculousness

Summary Judgment: Film Romance and Ridiculousness

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Back now with DAY TO DAY.

And back to Hollywood, where the Oscar hangovers are finally over and new movies are in theaters today.

Mark Jordan Legan is here with his weekly look at what the critics are saying - Slate's Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN ( Let's see, Will Ferrell has made comedies about soccer, NASCAR racing and figure skating, and in his latest, "Semi-Pro," he takes on professional basketball. Well, sorta.

In the late '60s the American Basketball Association rivaled the NBA until it got swallowed whole in 1976. Ferrell plays the owner of a struggling ABA franchise who has to figure out a way to build a winning team.

(Soundbite of movie, "Semi-Pro")

Mr. WILL FERRELL (Actor): (As Jackie Moon) Let's try to win, but not win by too much.

Mr. WOODY HARRELSON (Actor): (As Monix) Wait, we don't want to win by too much?

Mr. FERRELL: (As Jackie Moon) Nuh-uh.

Mr. HARRELSON: (As Monix) What?

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) Say we score 125 points, that means we gotta give everybody in here a free corn dog, right?

Unidentified Man (Actor): Yeah, sorry, (unintelligible) we don't even got corn dogs.

Mr. LEGAN: The nation's critics pretty much want "Semi-Pro" to take extra laps around the gym. Even though Variety says it scores big laughs, the majority agree with the Minneapolis Star Tribune - erratic, overlong and repetitive. And the Charlotte Observer complains: just Ferrell doing the same man-boy shtick he usually does.

Director Brett Morgen, who's last big screen effort was the Robert Evans documentary "The Kid Stays in the Picture," now brings us "Chicago 10," a blend of archival footage and animation that tells the story of the riotous 1968 Democratic National Convention and the trial that followed it. Some of the vocal talent includes Hank Azaria, Liev Schreiber and Nick Nolte.

(Soundbite of movie, "Chicago 10")

Mr. NICK NOLTE (Actor): (As character) The government will prove the plan of defendants who encouraged people to protest and riot.

Mr. LEGAN: The critics say cool, man. The Washington Post raves: the first great film of 2008, audacious and ambitious. Entertainment Weekly calls "Chicago 10" well worth seeing. And Film Threat says Morgen crafts a film as pertinent as ever.

And if a silly sports comedy or a political cartoon documentary doesn't quite do it for you, how about a bodice-ripping historical drama? "The Other Boleyn Girl" tells the story of Anne and Mary Boleyn as they compete for Henry VIII's attention and the ultimate prize, marriage and becoming the queen of England. Poor Eric Bana has to choose between Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Other Boleyn Girl")

Ms. SCARLETT JOHANSSON (Actor): (As Mary Boleyn) Don't be angry with me. You think I desired to go for this purpose?

Ms. NATALIE PORTMAN (Actress): (As Anne Boleyn) All I know is the man didn't know who you were. He was with you in that room for half an hour and came out besotted. I don't know what you've done or did.

Ms. JOHANSSON: (As Mary Boleyn) Nothing, sister, except saying your praises and talk about my husband.

Ms. PORTMAN: (As Anne Boleyn) Really? Well, you must show me how you did that sometime.

Mr. LEGAN: The critics are split, like a chopping block. The Seattle Post Intelligencer likes it, shouting an absorbing and exciting costume drama. But USA Today whines: it's nothing but soap opera muck. And New York magazine finds "The Other Boleyn Girl" a brisk, feminist melodrama that is, historically speaking, a load of wank.

Well, you know, every time this story is told I feel poor King Henry gets a bum rap. Yeah, sure, he cut off Anne Boleyn's head. Sorry, dear listener. If I just spoiled a plot point, blame your history teacher. But it's only because you he wanted a son to carry on the family dynasty. I can relate. The fact that there's no apparent male heir to the Summary Judgment throne, well, it does make one contemplate - and I'm sure my current wife understands - oh, it is weary to be king.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer who's throne is right here in Los Angeles.

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