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Slate's Summary Judgment: 'The Dukes of Hazzard,' 'Broken Flowers,' 'Chumscrubber'

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Well, if you don't want to wait until the next hockey season for your entertainment, how about a movie? The online magazine Slate compiles a weekly digest of what critics are saying about the new releases. Here is Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up, in limited release, we have the quirky dramedy "Broken Flowers" from art house favorite Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch, the director of such indie fare as "Strangers in Paradise" and "Ghost Dog," now brings us Bill Murray playing a lonely single man who discovers he may have fathered a son many years ago. Jessica Lange and Sharon Stone also star.

(Soundbite of "Broken Flowers")

Unidentified Man #1: Your whole trip, it's all planned, booked, reservations, rental cars, everything you need. All you have to do is give them the credit card.

Mr. BILL MURRAY: What are you talking about?

Unidentified Man #1: You go visiting. You go to the houses. You see them. You bring flowers, pink flowers. You're just checking in.

LEGAN: Most of the nation's critics applaud this collaboration between Murray and Jarmusch. Rolling Stone says `The mix of humor and heartbreak brings out the best in Murray.' Entertainment Weekly shouts, `A movie of uncommon sweetness and delight.' And the Hollywood Reporter warns, `"Broken Flowers" could break Jarmusch out of the art house, but admirers may question the film's overly conventional approach.'

Next up, also in limited release, is surely one of the most unusually titled films of late, the "Chumscrubber." This dark independent drama gets its name from an apocalyptic comic book character who's very popular in the film's seemingly perfect suburban world. But that world is not as perfect as it seems. Jamie Bell, Glenn Close and Ralph Fiennes star.

(Soundbite of "Chumscrubber")

Unidentified Man #2: (As Dean) It's just a beer, Mom.

Unidentified Woman: You don't have to explain yourself to me, Dean. I trust you. Hmm. I wonder what that would be like if we could just switch roles and you could be the parent and I would be the child.

LEGAN: Well, many critics held their nose to the "Chumscrubber." Even though The Christian Science Monitor finds it `acutely intelligent and strikingly tough-minded,' Variety howls, `An insufferable, self-conscious cult movie.' And the Minneapolis Star Tribune agrees, calling it `a shallow, synthetic critique of suburbia.'

And finally, we come to this weekend's big old wide release, "The Dukes of Hazzard." Based on the hit TV series that ran from 1979 to 1985, this action-comedy stars Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott and Jessica Simpson. The plot involves cars, cars chasing other cars and cars jumping over things.

(Soundbite of "The Dukes of Hazzard")

Unidentified Man #3: What the hell's he using?

Unidentified Man #4: You don't want to know.

Unidentified Man #5: Dag gammit, you just assassinated a tree.

LEGAN: Well, the nation's critics don't care for it one darned bit. The New York Times says the film is `the latest evidence that, for Hollywood studios at least, there could never be too much of a mediocre thing.' The LA Times squeals, `With no plot or character or dialogue worth experiencing, let alone remembering, the film merely occupies space on the screen and hopes for the best.' And the Philadelphia Inquirer calls "Dukes" `a weird moonshine and marijuana-fueled yee-haw fest.' Man, I miss college.

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.