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“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”

Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt make two appealing leads in Lasse Hallstrom’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.” As the film’s title implies, their characters (a salmon expert and a public relations employee) work to bring salmon fishing to the Yemeni highlands at the request of a billionaire sheikh (Amr Waked).  The film is sweet, if at times a touch too sentimental.  However, instead of becoming a government satire in the vein of Armando Ianucci’s “In the Loop,” the film turns into a generic love story by its second half.  In the film’s first section, Kristin Scott Thomas brings laughs as Bridget Maxwell, the prime minister’s feisty personal assistant.  This character serves as a reminder of the zany heights “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” could have reached in its latter portion.

2 1/2 stars out 4

“21 Jump Street”

“21 Jump Street,” directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, satirizes the current high school social climate, the police procedural genre and the action movie template which it utilizes most successfully. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as Schmidt and Jenko, former high school belligerents who patch up their friendship to help each other graduate from police academy. A drug bust, bungled by Tatum’s hilarious inability to administer the Miranda Rights, brings them to the Jump Street division, where they are assigned to investigate a high school narcotics ring. With an excellent screenplay by Hill and Michael Bacall, “21 Jump Street” joins the ranks of “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Superbad,” serving as one of the funniest films of the year so far.

3 1/2 stars out of 4

“The Hunger Games”

Gary Ross’s “The Hunger Games” rises to the same level of fan-directed energy that elevated last summer’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” to box office glory. The film, based on the bestseller by Suzanne Collins, focuses on a group of teenagers in a futuristic, dystopian society who are selected and forced to fight to the death at the hands of an authoritarian government. With a cast led by Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) and Josh Hutcherson (“The Kids Are All Right”), the acting nearly matches that of the Potter films.  Ross manages to coat the action sequences with a layer of suspense despite the all too prevalent use of a hand-held camera.  For those seeking high-quality Hollywood entertainment, “The Hunger Games” proves worthy of consideration.

3 stars out of 4

—Compiled by Cooper Aspegren

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