Joel's Review: Christmastime at the Movies

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It's Christmas at the movies, a time for family films. The first one, "Night at the Museum" is a great idea. Every kid secretly believes when the lights go out at the museum -- the animals and all the exhibits come to life. The truth is, every grown up believes it, too.

Yes, this is one of the secrets that grown-ups keep from kids. But Ben Stiller lets it all hang out in "Night at the Museum" -- and makes it a great day at the movies.

They stick close to character. They don't joke the joke. This is big-laugh comedy the way it's supposed to be done. Terrific cast, too, with Robin Williams and Owen Wilson.

Ben Stiller has never been better, and your kids will get to meet Mickey Rooney, at 86 years old, one of the great actors of all time. They wanted him to play a T-Rex, and he said, "Nah." He was proud of his age; he didn't want to play a younger character. Grade: B

Reveiw: 'We Are Marshall'

The appeal of Matthew McConaughey has long evaded me both as a pinup and as an actor. His constant ticks, bad hair and strained syntax as a coach fumble what should have been the tragic and inspirational story of the rebuilding of Marshall University's football team after a devastating plane crash.

Families looking for inspirational sports stories this Christmas would do much better with Denzel Washington's "Remember the Titans" or "Invincible," just out on DVD. Grade: C+

Review: 'Rocky Balboa'

Rocky is a cartoon. Rocky has always been a cartoon. And if we can still believe in Popeye and Yogi Bear and Sylvester Pussycat, we can still believe Rocky is heavyweight champ. Even at 60. Just don't believe it too strongly.

The first half of this movie -- preposterous. Why is Rocky broke? Why is his son a wimp? Why didn't someone run over his brother-in law, Paulie, in "Rocky V" and rid us of the most irritating continuing character ever to appear in a motion picture series? But the fight is fun. Grade: B-

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