Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Kathy Bates, Terry Bradshaw

BY LEAH ROZEN

ROMANTIC COMEDY

Hankering to see ex-pro football star-turned-TV personality Terry Bradshaw naked as a jaybird? In Failure to Launch Bradshaw, 57, has an extended nude scene, shot mostly from the back, in which it's evident that gravity takes a toll even on elite athletes. Providing buffer beefcake, brawny McConaughey spends huge chunks of the movie shirtless or in a tank top.

There's more to Launch than just naked men—not that there's anything wrong with that. A moderately enjoyable bit of fluff, this romantic comedy stars McConaughey as Tripp, 35, a boat broker still contentedly residing with the 'rents (Bradshaw and Bates). His folks want the house to themselves and hire Paula (Parker), who makes her living luring stay-at-home drips into romantic relationships, thereby inspiring the guys to move out. Tripp is no drip, however, and Paula finds herself falling for him.

Launch is too contrived to be very believable and features several nitwit bits of low comedy (including one, stolen straight from There's Something About Mary, in which someone performs CPR on a bird). What saves the movie is that it strives, often successfully, for quirkiness in both its characters and situations and there is ample chemistry between McConaughey and Parker. And whenever the comically dour Deschanel shows up in a movie, it's an automatic plus. (PG-13)
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Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Idina Menzel, Donald Sutherland

DRAMA

Robert Towne wrote Chinatown (1974), one of the greatest period films ever set in Los Angeles. Sorry to say, but magic doesn't strike twice with Ask the Dust, a dank romance written and directed by Towne and based on a novel of the same name by John Fante. Set in L.A. during the 1930s, Dust tracks an aspiring Italian-American writer (Farrell) who has the hots for a Mexican waitress (Hayek). Despite being drawn to each other, these two keep spitting out hurtful insults and slamming doors. You'll find yourself wanting to yell at the screen, "Sleep with each other already so we all can get outta here." Farrell and Hayek—it's a toss-up who's more beautiful—give committed performances, but what they are committing to is never clear. (R)
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Aaron Stanford, Emilie de Ravin

REVIEWED BY JASON LYNCH

HORROR

A San Diego-bound road-tripping family gets stuck in the New Mexico desert, where they are hunted by genetic mutants (darn that pesky '50s nuclear testing!). "The lucky ones," boast the movie ads, "die first." The same warning applies to audiences of this truly vile film, a remake of the 1977 creepfest. Eyes chases the same old made-you-jump scares (lots of flapping birds and barking dogs) with an avalanche of severed body parts. Suffocating a talented cast, including Kathleen Quinlan and Lost's de Ravin, underneath all that gore, Hills isn't horrific. Just plain horrible. (R)
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Tim Allen, Kristin Davis, Robert Downey Jr., Jane Curtin, Danny Glover

FAMILY

Once hapless Dad starts exhibiting doglike behavior, scratching for fleas and dropping to all fours to chase cats, this genial kid flick takes off. The problem is wading (and waiting) through confusing expository scenes, including an opener set in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet. As my 6-year-old companion put it, "What's happening?"

What's happening is that bad guys have captured a Tibetan pooch that, via a genetic mutation, is nearly ageless. When the dog bites Dave Douglas (Allen), man becomes beguiling beast. Befurred, Dave learns that he needs to pay more attention to his wife (Davis) and kids and chase the villains. A passable remake of 1959's The Shaggy Dog, this version depends heavily for comic bite on Allen, who doggedly does pretty much anything (including licking Davis) for a laugh. (PG)
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>Game 6 Michael Keaton works hard to pump energy into a wan comic drama about a playwright's midlife crisis. His character is torn between attending his opening night on Broadway and watching his beloved Red Sox battle (and lose to) the Mets in the sixth game of the 1986 World Series. Griffin Dunne, Catherine O'Hara and Bebe Neuwirth costar. (R) [

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16 Blocks Bruce Willis shines in a solid crime thriller in which he plays a tired cop who becomes a target while trying to protect a prisoner (Mos Def) headed to court. (PG-13) [

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>WICKED NO MORE

Idina Menzel, 34, enchanted Broadway in the musical Wicked. Now she's weaving a spell over Colin Farrell in the moody romance flick Ask the Dust.

GETTING HOT AND HEAVY WITH COLIN FARRELL It was really easy. I am totally starstruck by Colin. He's actually a perfect gentleman. I had to take off my clothes in front of him and kiss him a little bit—I used all [my] nervous energy.

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE MARRIED TO ACTOR TAYE DIGGS? Since we left Rent (where the two met onstage in '96), he's the one who took off and had women adore him, but I feel confident about our relationship. Not that I don't have my days when I think, "What is he doing with me?"

WILL YOU GO BACK TO BROADWAY? I want to be one of those women who can do everything. Wicked was the best time of my life, but eight shows a week can really burn you out. [The movie] was a breath of fresh air. But live performance is where I feel most at home.

>A History of Violence ($28.98) Possibly director David Cronenberg's masterpiece, this shattering 2005 drama works on multiple levels. It's the involving story of a small-town diner owner (Viggo Mortensen) who may have a secret past about which his wife (Maria Bello) and neighbors are unaware. But it's also an examination of how violence is embedded in American myth and identity. And did I mention that History has two incredibly steamy, though wildly differing, sex scenes? Extras: Exceptional. In addition to insightful audio commentary by Cronenberg, there is a fascinating, detailed making-of documentary. There's also a deleted scene and a short look at the film's mixed reception following its premiere at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Movie: [

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Good Night, and Good Luck ($28.98) Legendary TV newsman Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) takes on Red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy in an elegant drama. Directed, cowritten and starring George Clooney, the black-and-white film uses real-life events of the 1950s to raise questions about constitutional issues confronting Americans today. The cast includes Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson and Frank Langella. Extras: Surprisingly sparse. Clooney and cowriter Grant Heslov provide an informative, often amusing commentary ("Here's the most important part," jokes Clooney as his name flashes in the credits), plus there's a perfunctory behind-the-scenes short that fails even to identify who's talking. Movie: [

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Prime ($29.98) A 37-year-old woman (Uma Thurman) is surprised to find herself involved in a passionate love affair with a 23-year-old painter (Bryan Greenberg) in a decidedly minor romantic comedy. The age difference is only the first twist; the second is that she's gentile and he's Jewish, and the third that the woman's therapist (Meryl Streep) is the young man's mother. Oy! Extras: A generous helping of deleted scenes and bloopers, including one where Thurman spits out food she's supposed to be eating in a restaurant and Greenberg purrs, "That's so hot." There's also commentary from director-writer Ben Younger and producer Jennifer Todd, who wax rhapsodic about working with Streep. Movie: [

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