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That Awkward Moment — This chatty romantic comedy in the modern mode — rude, nude and crude — has some funny, writerly riffs on relationships and how to avoid them. But the movie, like star Zac Efron and writer-director Tom Gormican, never lets us forget that it’s trying too hard, straining to spit out sexy, silly patter, reaching for that raunchy costume failure at a dinner party, grasping for gross takes on trips to the toilet. Efron, Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) play three New York pals who vow, when one is dumped by his wife, to stay single and enjoy the mingling. Which all of them ignore. With Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas and Josh Pais. Rated R, 94 minutes. — McClatchy-Tribune News Service


American Hustle — David O. Russell co-wrote and directed the story of Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who in 1978, began running scams with his partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Busted by an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper), the two then help trap politicians. High-energy scenes combine with bad hair and worse costumes for a wild ride. Jennifer Lawrence burns up the screen as Irving’s unstable wife. Rated R, 138 minutes. — Boo Allen

August: Osage County — When a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, three sisters confront the dysfunctional woman who raised them. With Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper. Written by Tracy Letts. Directed by John Wells. Rated R, 130 minutes. — Los Angeles Times

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) and older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has the secret, magical ability to chill whatever she touches. Rated PG, 85 minutes. — Minneapolis Star Tribune

Her — Spike Jonze wrote and directed this soulful meditation about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Jonze probes higher questions of what actually makes a human. Thoughtful, if at times leisurely paced. With Chris Pratt, Amy Adams and Rooney Mara. Rated R, 126 minutes. — B.A.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug — The Desolation of Smaug is not much shorter than the first film of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, 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 (Richard Armitage) to reclaim the kingdom of Erebor from the frightening dragon Smaug. Rated PG-13, 161 minutes. — The Associated Press

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). 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.

I, Frankenstein — Two centuries after his creation by Dr. Frankenstein, the creature Adam finds himself in the middle of a supernatural war over the fate of humanity. With Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovski and Miranda Otto. Written and directed by Stuart Beattie. Rated PG-13, 92 minutes. — LAT

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — In this Jack Ryan reboot, Chris Pine takes over as Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst. Shadow Recruit, which was scripted without a Clancy book, tells a new backstory for Ryan. Inspired by Sept. 11, he joins the Marines and is heroically injured in Afghanistan. During his recovery, he meets his eventual fiancee (Keira Knightley) and is lured to the CIA by a mysterious recruiter (Kevin Costner). He’s covertly embedded at a Wall Street bank where he uncovers a Russian plot to buy up U.S. Treasury bonds. Director-actor Kenneth Branagh endows his film with (mostly) old-fashioned competency but little to distinguish it from superior thrillers that have come before. Rated PG-13, 105 minutes. — AP

Lone Survivor — Mark Wahlberg stars in this true story of four Navy SEALS in Afghanistan in 2005 on a mission to find and eliminate a Taliban leader. When the squad is reduced to one (hence the title), he finds refuge in an unlikely place. The standard action flick accentuates the bravery of the squad, but co-writer and director Peter Berg never raises his film beyond routine adventure material. With Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Taylor Kitsch. Rated R, 121 minutes. — B.A.

Nebraska — When Woodrow Grant (Bruce Dern) believes a magazine sweepstakes’ promise of riches, his youngest son, David (Will Forte), grudgingly agrees to drive him from Billings, Mont., to Lincoln, Neb., to collect. Nebraska is the latest bittersweet commentary on life from director Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt). Deadpan funny and always thoughtful. With Rance Howard, Stacy Keach and a terrific June Squibb. Rated R, 115 minutes. — B.A.

The Nut Job — In Peter Lepeniotis’ animated film, the animals in Liberty Park, ruled by a gruff raccoon (voiced by Liam Neeson) are facing a severe nut shortage, and Surly the squirrel (Will Arnett) has somehow set fire to the winter stockpile. Banished from the park, Surly discovers a nut shop. If he can snag that booty, he’ll be golden for the winter. With Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser and Maya Rudolph. Rated PG, 86 minutes. — AP

Ride Along — A little Kevin Hart goes a long way in Ride Along, a dull buddy picture engineered as a vehicle for the mini-motor mouth Hart and the perma-sneering Ice Cube. Cube is cranky cop James, whose pursuit of a mysterious villain is interrupted by his sister’s fiance, Ben (Hart), a video game-addicted school security guard. James drags Ben on a ride-along just to convince the dude he isn’t cut out for police work and that he isn’t good enough for James’ supermodel sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). Rated PG-13, 100 minutes. — MCT

The Saratov Approach — Two Mormon missionaries in Russia fight for survival after being kidnapped, beaten and held for ransom in this film based on true events in 1998. With Corbin Allred, Maclain Nelson and Nikita Bogolyubov. Rated PG-13, 107 minutes. — LAT

Saving Mr. Banks — Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson turns in a spirited performance as 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. — B.A.

12 Years a Slave — British director Steven McQueen directs Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free man in 1841 New York who is abducted and sold into slavery in the South. He experiences torture and humiliations from his various owners, particularly one (Michael Fassbender). Provocative yet well-made film touches many buttons while delivering a compelling experience. Rated R, 133 minutes. — B.A.

The Wolf of Wall Street — Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this inconsistently high-energy film from Martin Scorsese that skewers Wall Street and those who bend the rules to work there. A blazing first half filled with excess slows to a second-half grind. Fine supporting cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie, Shea Whigham, Jonah Hill and Jon Bernthal. Rated R, 180 minutes. — B.A.