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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues — Everything about 2004’s Anchorman, a cult classic of the Will Ferrell oeuvre, and its lead character, Ron Burgundy, was puffed up and absurd and ridiculous. And so, why wouldn’t the sequel be even more puffed up, more absurd and more ridiculous? It’s 1980, and Burgundy and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), now married, host a morning show together. Burgundy gets fired, but opportunity comes in the form of a job offer at a new 24-hour news channel. He heads for New York, stopping to gather the old news team — overly emotional sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), overly sexed reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and overly insane weatherman Brick Tamland (Steve Carell, reliably hilarious). With James Marsden, Meagan Good and Kristen Wiig, and directed with total self-assurance by Adam McKay. Rated PG-13, 119 minutes. Opened Wednesday. — The Associated Press

Saving Mr. Banks — Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson turns in a spirited performance as Mrs. P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. He brings her to Hollywood from England in hopes of landing the movie rights to her book. But he finds her cantankerous and obstructionist at every turn. Amusingly entertaining with two fine lead performances. Rated PG-13, 125 minutes. Opening Friday. — Boo Allen

Walking With Dinosaurs 3D — Like an elaborately decorated wedding cake, the kid-friendly Walking With Dinosaurs 3D may leave you wondering how something so stunning could end up being so bland. Aesthetic attention to detail goes only so far when the content is mediocre. The movie begins with a modern-day framing device about an archaeologist (Karl Urban) on a dig with his niece and nephew, and then goes back to prehistoric times to follow a young pachyrhinosaurus, Patchi (voiced by Justin Long), and a colorful bird named Alex (John Leguizamo). The movie aims to show the harshness of the dinosaur-eat-dinosaur world, yet comedy and a little love soften the reality. Rated PG, 80 minutes. Opening Friday. — The Washington Post


The Book Thief — A slice of Holocaust history filters through a gauzy lens in this treacly rendering of Markus Zusak’s novel of the same name. In late 1930s Germany, an illiterate girl, Liesel (a bland Sophie Nelisse), is taken from her mother and placed with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson), then learns the joy of reading while having innocuous adventures with a friend. She also finds time to help hide a Jewish man. Rated PG-13, 131 minutes. — B.A.

Dallas Buyers Club — In a true story, Matthew McConaughey plays Ron Woodroof, an electrician and part-time cowboy who tests HIV positive in 1985 and is given a month to live. He turns to alternative drugs, obtaining them in trips around the globe, eventually organizing the buyers’ club, a ruse for others to buy them. Touching, persuasive performances from McConaughey and Jared Leto. Jennifer Garner plays an attending, caring physician. Rated R, 117 minutes. — B.A.

Delivery Man — In this tepid remake of the 2011 French-Canadian serious comedy Starbuck, Vince Vaughn plays the title character, a hapless meat deliveryman who learns that he has fathered more than 500 children stemming from 20 years previous when he made anonymous yet copious donations to a sperm bank. Now, 142 of the offspring are suing to have his identity revealed. Chris Pratt plays the equally hapless lawyer fighting to retain his friend’s anonymity. Rated PG-13, 103 minutes. — B.A.

Frozen — Disney’s new movie, very roughly based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” follows two princesses: rambunctious young Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell as an adult) and older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has the secret, magical ability to chill whatever she touches. When Elsa’s coronation day approaches, a squabble between the sisters sets off a freak cold snap throughout the land. Rated PG, 85 minutes. — Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — The first film of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, took way too long to get going and then dragged for much of its 169 minutes. The Desolation of Smaug is not much shorter but it feels brisker, lighter, funnier. Instead of a drawn-out intro, we get right to the action — the quest of Bilbo (Martin Freeman, himself livelier and funnier) and the band of dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (a suitably noble Richard Armitage) to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor from the frightening dragon Smaug. Rated PG-13, 161 minutes. — AP

Homefront — Homefront was directed by Gary Fleder (Kiss the Girls, The Impostor), but the more meaningful credit here is that Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay. Based on a novel by Chuck Logan, it’s the story of a Drug Enforcement Agency officer (Jason Statham) forced to move to remote Louisiana, in order to escape the wrath of the drug-dealing motorcycle gang that he’s helped destroy. Rated R, 100 minutes. — San Francisco Chronicle

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — The action roars along in this second film edition of Suzanne Collins’ popular novels. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) again face off against a team of rivals, but this time heavy intrigue at the capital looms large, particularly with President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Much looks familiar, but impressive special effects and outlandish costumes serve as visual distractions. With an excellent supporting cast: Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. Rated PG-13, 146 minutes. — B.A.

A Madea Christmas — Coaxed into helping a friend pay her daughter a surprise holiday visit, the stern, sassy matriarch Madea (Tyler Perry) shakes up a small rural town preparing for its annual Christmas Jubilee. Rated PG-13, 100 minutes. — Los Angeles Times

Out of the Furnace — Casey Affleck and Christian Bale play two woeful brothers in a small Pennsylvania iron mill town. They look headed in opposite directions but end up on the same path in this violent, gloomy film from co-writer and director Scott Cooper. Woody Harrelson plays the quintessential bad guy headed for a fall. Rated R, 116 minutes. — B.A.