MOVIE REVIEWS: THE HEARTBREAK KID

The Heartbreak Kid, starring Ben Stiller and directed by the Farrelly brothers, is a remake of a 1972 movie by the same name that starred Charles Grodin, was written by Neil Simon, and was directed by Elaine May. "That movie was better in every way," comments Roger Ebert in his review of the new one, which he calls "a squirmy miscalculation of tone." Ebert is by no means alone. A.O. Scott in the New York Times remarks that if you haven't seen the original film, "you're missing a minor, if somewhat dated, classic. ... If you haven't seen the ...new update of that earlier picture, I'm jealous." Scott calls it, "this lame, long, ugly joke of a movie." Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times remarks, "Why get bogged down in comparisons, when the new Heartbreak Kid stands entirely on its own merits as a grim, shrill, deluded and incredibly depressing movie, so bewilderingly mean-spirited that the trademark Farrelly Brothers gross-out scenes feel like the sweetest." And Peter Howell in the Toronto Star compares the difference between the first film and the new one this way: "In 1972, a mainstream sex comedy had to be mostly in the mind. In 2007, thanks to guys like the Farrellys, the yuks are located on every bodily orifice." But Walter Addiego in the San Francisco Chronicle concludes that the remake is "funny in spots if you can tune out ... any memory of the first movie." And Claudia Puig in USA Today concludes, "There is enough humor to keep us entertained."

MOVIE REVIEWS: THE SEEKER

Like Harry Potter, the main character in The Seeker is a teenage boy learning how to employ magical powers against evil. So naturally, critics are comparing it to the Potter movies -- mostly unfavorably. Not that the reviews are universally bad, but, as Liam Lacey observes in the Toronto Globe & Mail: "Whether you fully embrace the Harry Potter phenomenon or simply live with it, there's no question that J. K. Rowling is an imaginative story-spinner. The trouble is that she has ruined the field for the legions of the second-rate." But Kevin Crust in the Los Angeles Times dismisses it as a "dreary, spectacle-driven adaptation" of the novel by Susan Cooper to which director David L. Cunningham has applied what Crust calls "a jarring, disorienting style." On the other hand, Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel calls it an "eye-popping, jaw-dropping first installment in a film fantasy series that could turn out to be the new Harry Potter. Tautly scripted, smartly cast, beautifully shot in an England of snow and fog, it's a dazzling slice of cinematic imagination."

HD DVD GETTING MORE LOOKS ON NETFLIX SITE THAN BLU-RAY

Of 14 million visitors to online DVD renter Netflix's website each month, only 48,000 viewed its pages devoted to releases in high-definition HD DVD or Blu-ray discs, according to Compete.com. Examining the data, the website High-Def Disc News commented Thursday, "Curiously, although those who looked at Blu-ray titles outnumbered those looking at HD-DVD by a factor of 1.8 to 1, among those who set an hi-def format as their preferred disc format, HD-DVD was chosen over Blu-ray by a factor of 2.4 to 1." In August, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that his company was "agnostic" in the battle between the two formats for allegiance but indicated that customer demand was "pretty evenly split between them, [but it's] tiny, like a percent or something." The new figures would indicate that, at least judging from the number of visitors to Netflix's HDTV pages, it's even tinier -- just a third of a percent.

HONG KONG MEDIA MOGUL RUN RUN SHAW TURNS 100

Run Run Shaw, who presided over the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, overseeing a thousand or more films beginning in 1925, is due to turn 100 this month or next, Reuters reported today (Friday). (The wire service said that the exact date of Shaw's birth has never been disclosed.) Cheng Pei Pei, who starred in 23 Shaw films in the 1960s, told the wire service that she remembers Shaw as a hard-working movie mogul. "He started very early in the morning, reading scripts, and he watched 4-5 movies every day ... If he thought a movie wasn't good, he might burn it," Cheng said. Shaw's personal fortune has been estimated at $3.5 billion.

Brian B.