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Slate's Summary Judgment: 'The Break-Up,' 'The Peaceful Warrior,' 'B-13'

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Are the weekend's new movie releases worth your time and money? That's the question we try to answer every Friday with a digest of what the critics are saying. It's compiled by the online magazine Slate. Here's Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

First up in limited release, we have the coming of age drama Peaceful Warrior, based on the best-selling self-help memoir by Dan Millman.

A talented Olympic hopeful meets a mysterious stranger who helps him learn strength of spirit is more important than strength of body. Nick Nolte stars as the mystifying mentor.

(Soundbite of movie "Peaceful Warrior")

Mr. SCOTT MECHLOWICZ (Actor): (As Dan Millman) I have a medal rod in my leg.

Mr. NICK NOLTE (Actor): (As Socrates) A warrior's not about perfection or victory or invulnerability.

LEGAN: The Hollywood Reporter enjoys it, saying, Strong performances ground the film in effective drama. But most everyone else begs to differ. The Christian Science Monitor yawns, This woozily uplifting saga is big on homilies and deficient in just about everything else. And the Arizona Republic warns that Peaceful Warrior is meant to empower and enlighten, but it tries so hard it's more like inspiration overkill.

Next up also in limited release is the action thriller from France, District B-13. Co-written and produced by Luc Besson, who brought us Le Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element, this high energy overseas hit is set in Paris 2010, where two cops must infiltrate a sealed off ghetto to stop a terrorist attack.

(Soundbite of movie "District B-13")

LEGAN: The nation's critics love this non-stop thrill ride. The Christian Science Monitor raves, It may be subtitled and the faces may be unfamiliar, but District B-13 is the best buddy action movie around. And Time magazine cheers, Let's put the matter simply, this French thriller makes everything Hollywood has lately done in the action genre look clumsy, dull and stale.

And we close with the highly publicized, wide release comedy, The Breakup. Whether you wanted to know about it or not, Jennifer Anniston's marriage ended last year and she ran off to Chicago to make this film with Vince Vaughn and a few tabloid shutterbugs took photos of them every now and then.

Meanwhile, the movie is now out and it focuses on a couple that moves in together, buys a condo, and then when the love fades the battle over who gets the condo begins. John Favreau and Judy Davis also star.

(Soundbite of movie "The Breakup")

Ms. JENNIFER ANISTON (Actor): (As Brooke Meyers) You got three lemons.

Mr. VINCE VAUGHN (Actor): (As Gary Grobowski) What my baby wants my baby gets, you know that.

Ms. ANISTON: Yeah, but I wanted 12. Baby wanted 12.

Mr. VAUGHN: Why would you want 12 lemons?

Ms. ANISTON: Because I'm making a 12 lemon centerpiece.

Mr. VAUGHN: So no one's actually even eating them? They're just they're show lemons?

Ms. ANISTON: Yeah, they're show lemons.

LEGAN: The critics really want to move on from this break up. Variety groans, The film is ill-conceived virtually from the opening frame. USA Today moans, Sitting through it is almost as painful as going through the demise of a relationship. And Newsday says, The Breakup fails to freshen the stale news that women are from Venus and men are from Mars.

You know, I am so tired of that stupid cliché. Everyone knows that's not true. Of course women aren't from Venus. They're from the distant spiral galaxy NGC2903, which is continually strafed by high-energy radiation, thus making women extremely sensitive and unwillingly to compromise. Just ask any divorced astronomer, he'll tell you.

CHADWICK: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan