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Movie Stars

Rob Benedict and Jenna Fischer in “A Little Help.’’ Rob Benedict and Jenna Fischer in “A Little Help.’’ (Freestyle Releasing)
July 30, 2011

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New releases

Another Earth As a young woman (co-writer Brit Marling) becomes close to the man (William Mapother) whose family she killed in a car crash, a second Earth appears mysteriously in the sky. This muted story of atonement, forgiveness, and parallel universes is an earnest indie drama given a light veneer of science fiction. (92 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Cowboys & Aliens A hell-for-leather action film with a healthy serving of scares. Badman Daniel Craig (terrific) and cattle baron Harrison Ford (engagingly cranky) are two of the Old West types confronting nasty E.T.’s on the open plains. What the movie lacks in originality and authenticity, it makes up for in pell-mell multiplex entertainment. With Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. (112 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Crazy, Stupid, Love. Poised between the classic Hollywood screwball and pretty good network-television situation comedy, but very much a summer movie, this in many ways is a romantic blockbuster. The title’s period and two commas could easily be exclamation points, since just about everything in this movie, about people breaking up and getting together, is absurdly overstated. It’s also, in its knowing way, fun. With Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, and Emma Stone. (118 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front This impressively evenhanded documentary follows the eco-terrorist Daniel McGowan. Or does setting fire to businesses that exploit the environment qualify as terrorism? That’s a serious question, but McGowan is such an uncompelling figure it’s hard to care as this film seeks an answer. (85 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

A Little Help It’s not that Jenna Fischer, of “The Office,’’ is miscast in this tedious comedy. It’s that she’s mis-everything else: misused, misdirected, misanthropic. Under other circumstances, she could play a stressed-out, freshly widowed dental hygienist with little objection from me. Under these circumstances, you’d rather be anywhere else. Written and directed by Michael J. Weithorn, the man behind “The King of Queens.’’ (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Love Etc. The et cetera in Jill Andresevic’s perfectly cast documentary sounds frivolous, but watching the three couples and two single men, all New Yorkers, simply live is a moving thrill. The love is important here, but, damn, if the et cetera isn’t everything. (95 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

The Smurfs “Alvin and the Chipmunks’’ with cute blue trolls instead of obnoxious squeaky rodents. A marginal improvement, in other words. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays (“Glee’’) play the New York couple befriended by the critters; Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, and George Lopez provide some of the voices. In 3-D, but save your money. (103 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

An archive of movie reviews can be found at www.boston.com/movies. Theaters are subject to change.

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