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Slate's Summary Judgment: 'Tokyo Drift,' 'The Lake House,' 'Nacho Libre'

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Summer movies keep coming. We keep you on top of which ones are worth your time with, each week from the online magazine Slate, a digest of what the critics are saying. Here's Mark Jordan Legan with Summary Judgment.

MARK JORDAN LEGAN reporting:

We start with the wide release time-travel romance, The Lake House. Reuniting the original stars of Speed, that's right, Sandra Bullock and a city bus fall in love and society disapproves. No wait, not the bus. Keanu Reeves is in this one and the two of them discover she's in the future, he's in the past. Come on, we've all been in relationships like this.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Lake House")

Ms. SANDRA BULLOCK (Actor): (As Character) When were you hoping (unintelligible)

Mr. KEANU REEVES (Actor): (As Character) Two years from tomorrow.

Ms. BULLOCK: Two years from tomorrow.

Mr. REEVES: Yeah.

Ms. BULLOCK: Two years.

Mr. REEVES: From tomorrow.

Unidentified Woman (Actor): (As Character) Hello, name?

Ms. BULLOCK: Forrester.

Unidentified Woman: Can I ask your name?

Mr. REEVES: Wyler.

Ms. BULLOCK: Wyler (unintelligible) really not sure.

Unidentified Woman: I think we should be able to accommodate you, sir.

Mr. REEVES: Great.

Ms. BULLOCK: Wyler.

LEGAN: The critics find the whole thing a bit convoluted. USA Today shrugs, One of the most befuddling movies of recent years. The Hollywood Reporter warns, A slow moving never-igniting tale of calendar-crossed lovers. But the New York Times says that, In The Lake House, there's still chemistry between Bullock and Reeves in this wondrously illogical romance.

Next up we have Jack Black and Jared Hess, the creator of Napoleon Dynamite, bringing us the wild comedy, Nacho Libre. Black plays a young man raised in a Mexican monastery who moonlights as a professional wrestler. To quote the target audience, I'm so there, dude.

(Soundbite of movie, "Nacho Libre")

Mr. JACK BLACK (Actor): (As Character) Chacho(ph), when you are man, sometimes you wear stretchy pants in your room. It's for fun.

Mr. LEGAN: Hmmm. Maybe the nation's critics aren't in touch with their inner teenage boy because they're split on Nacho Libre. Even though the New York Times finds it endearingly ridiculous, the Atlanta Journal Constitution snarls, It looks like a movie that was more fun to make than it is to watch. And Entertainment Weekly moans, You can see what the film was going for, but the jokes just sit there. And we close with the wide release action flick, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Yes, the third installment of the popular street racing franchise is now set in the dangerous underworld of Japanese drift racing. Lucas Black and Bow Wow star.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift")

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As Character) I'm here to offer you a peaceful solution.

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (As Character) How do you, friend, accomplish that?

Unidentified Man #2: A race.

LEGAN: The critics are also split on this one. The Dallas Morning News roars, A fun, fascinating work of kinetic art. The Hollywood Reporter adds this backhanded compliment, Not much of a movie but a hell of a ride, while The Washington Post sniffs, A masterpiece of mediocrity, and The Chicago Tribune finds Tokyo Drift, A waste of gas. Hey, with all of our heavily congested freeways, I'm more worried about the guy next to you in the SUV talking on his cell, sipping coffee, and trying to find his Don't Sweat the Small Stuff audio book. Forget The Fast and the Furious. The real danger is the slow and the distracted.

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

Mark Jordan Legan