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Sports, sparks, and spies

Movies | Year-end films for the new year

Issue: "Endings & beginnings," Jan. 13, 2007

Gone is the smarmy Pierce Brosnan. The new James Bond, played by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, sticks with the basics: poker, martinis, and exercising the license to kill. Bond fans weary of the crass, sexual humor of the previous 20 Bond films find some respite in the 21st installment. Still, even Bond's toned-down womanizing earns the film a PG-13 rating.

The Pursuit of Happyness (PG-13 for some language) is a horror film of sorts for its first 100 minutes: A decent man (movingly acted by Will Smith) makes a bad business decision and ends up losing his wife, his apartment, and all his savings. He becomes homeless in San Francisco with his 5-year-old son but instead of giving up inspirationally fights for a stockbroker's job.

The Holiday (PG-13 for sexual content and some strong language) is a treacly romance starring the pretties (Cameron Diaz, Jude Law) and the more interesting (Kate Winslet, Jack Black). The film works as a Christmas fruitcake, baked according to a tried-and-true recipe: Drop unhappy people into beautiful places and have them fall in love, or lust.

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We Are Marshall (PG) examines a topic that all sports fans secretly wonder about: What happens if a plane crashes and the entire team is wiped out? The portrayal of real-life events at Marshall University in 1970 shows how Huntington, W.Va., and the school's football team struggled to come back from such a tragedy.

Fans expecting Rocky Balboa (PG) to be filled with action-packed fight scenes probably misread what Sylvester Stallone had in mind. At its heart, Stallone's final installment of the Rocky series is about an aging man dealing with pain, loss, and irrelevance. But the film really takes off when the trumpets blare and Rocky begins training once again to prove he's no bum.

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