Movies

No movies open this week.

Excellent (****)

Reviewed by critics Carrie Rickey (C.R.) and Steven Rea (S.R.).

W.S. denotes a wire-service review.

Black Swan Natalie Portman in the performance of her career as a fiercely disciplined prima ballerina struggling with the dual roles of Swan Lake and with a newly recruited dancer (Mila Kunis) threatening to steal her part. Vincent Cassell, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder are on board for this thrilling, nutty psychodrama, from The Wrestler's Darren Aronofsky. 1 hr. 43 R (sex, nudity, drugs, physical torment, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

The King's Speech Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush star in this rousing odd-couple comedy, drawn from real life, about King George VI, a stutterer, and his speech therapist. 1 hr. 51 R (profanity, but otherwise family-friendly for those 12 and older) - C.R.

Very Good (***1/2)

The Fighter

Based on the real-life career, and comeback, of welterweight champ "Irish" Micky Ward and the relationship with his wacko half-brother, erstwhile prizefighter Dicky Eklund, this roiling, colorful film is great in the ring, and great outside the ring, too. Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are the pugilist sibs, Melissa Leo their mom; Amy Adams is Micky's bare-knuckle barkeep girlfriend. 1 hr. 5

R

(violence, profanity, drugs, sex, adult themes) -

S.R.

127 Hours Gripping true story of a mountain climber (James Franco) who is trapped for five days under a boulder in a Utah canyon before taking drastic steps to survive. 1 hr. 37 R (profanity, disturbing violent content, bloody images) - C.R.

Tiny Furniture Writer/director/star Lena Dunham's fiercely witty, self-lacerating study of a college grad's aimless return to the family nest (in artsy downtown New York). Bad sex and identity crises ensue. A tiny indie with big, bold ideas - and a big prize from the South by Southwest Film Festival. 1 hr. 38 No MPAA rating (sex, profanity, adult themes) - S.R.

True Grit The Coen Brothers adapt Charles Portis' novel about a plucky girl who hires a bounty hunter to collect her father's killer, and rides on the hunt herself, determined to see things set right. With Jeff Bridges as the one-eyed, boozy gunslinger Rooster Cogburn, Matt Damon as a comically fussy Texas Ranger, Josh Brolin as the villain, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as the impossibly composed and gumptious 14-year-old heroine. 1 hr. 5- PG-13 (violence, cussing, adult themes) -S.R.

Also on Screens

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader **1/2

Maybe it's the postproduction 3-D enhancements, but in this effects-laden

Odyssey

for tweens, sometimes humans and beasts seem more wax-and-paint than flesh-and-blood. Director Michael Apted deftly handles the elements of Christian allegory; it's the infernal digital effects that prove to be beyond his capacity. 1 hr. 55

PG

(violence) -

C.R.

Gulliver's Travels *1/2 Jack Black is the big doofus who stumbles on little Lilliput in this brain-dead reworking of the Jonathan Swift satirical classic. With Amanda Peet, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, and Billy Connolly. It's murderously unfunny, and includes, for want of anything better, a noisy face-off between Gulliver and a towering, Transformer-like robot. 1 hr. 25 PG (mild profanity, cartoon violence, adult themes) - S.R.

Little Fockers ** Robert De Niro returns as the suspicious father-in-law who places unreasonable expectations on his daughter's spouse (Ben Stiller). Sporadically funny, with Viagra jokes that don't provoke laughs so much as cringes. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (sexual candor) - C.R.

The Tourist ** Alarmingly charmless, pace-challenged stab at Cary Grant-Grace Kelly international intrigue and romance, with Johnny Depp (as a clueless decoy) and Angelina Jolie (as a sophisticated Brit). Notable for nice shots of Venice and for the total absence of the movie-star heat that movie stars are paid to radiate. 1 hr. 44 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) - S.R.

TRON: Legacy ** With its Zen jargon, martial-arts moves, and neon glow, the sequel to the 1982 cult picture that explored the inner life of video games demonstrates that you can teach an old dog new Matrix. But for the hipster ravings of Jeff Bridges, the sequel would otherwise be merely a gaudy Nintendo prototype. 2 hrs. 06 PG (lots of flashing lights and loud noise) - C.R.

Yogi Bear 3D * A computer-animated Yogi and Boo Boo inhabit a real-world Jellystone Park in this weak big-screen adaptation of the animated children's character. Dan Aykroyd provides the voice of Yogi, and Justin Timberlake is Boo Boo Bear. 1 hr. 15 PG (mild rude humor) - W.S.

Theater

Reviewed by critics Wendy Rosenfield (W.R.), Howard Shapiro (H.S.), and Toby Zinman (T.Z.).

New This Week

The Understudy

(Wilma Theater) A movie star and his Broadway understudy face off as the stage manager tries to keep the peace. Previews Wednesday-Jan. 4, opens Jan. 5.

Continuing

A Jew Grows in Brooklyn

(Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center) One boy's quest for the American dream. Ends Tuesday.

Annie (Media Theatre) Mary Martello takes over from Wanda Sykes (who returns Jan. 12) as Miss Hannigan, and sweet Tori Heinlein is Annie in a pleasant production whose orphan girls are the cutest. Through Jan. 23. - H.S.

Black Nativity (Theatre Double) A mixture of Langston Hughes' words, traditional carols, and gospel songs with a cast of joyful voices led by Mattilyn Rochester and director Michael LeLand at St. Mary's Chapel in Center City. Through Friday. - H.S.

Blue Man Group (Merriam Theater) This "best of" collection makes Blue Man kitsch out of its original concept. Through next Sunday.

- W.R.

The Borrowers (Arden Theatre Company) Based on the old-fashioned books about a very tiny family, this show has plenty of charm and enough adventure to keep kids and parents happy. Through Jan. 30. - T.Z.

Caesar's Palace O' Fun (Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 3) Frank Ferrante's impresario alter ego leads this - yes, fun - blend of circus, burlesque, and cornball weirdness. Through next Sunday. - W.R.

Dralion (Liacouras Center, Temple) A gorgeous, graceful stunner heavy on jaw-dropping acrobatics and lighter on pretensions than some other Cirque productions. Through next Sunday. - W.R.

Miss Witherspoon (New City Stage at Adrienne) Christopher Durang's dark, funny tale of a dead woman sent back to Earth to try again is performed with brio in a top-notch production. Through Jan. 9. - H.S.

Nuncrackers (Hedgerow Theatre) This Christmastime version of Nunsense brings back those musical nuns, but in this show - and this production - they're merely amusing and never really zany. Through Jan. 9. - H.S.

Parenting 101 (Kimmel Center's Innovation Studio) This fun musical revue fully covers parenting, through the traumas and joys, with clever lyrics put to pop and show tunes. Through March 6. - H.S.

This Is the Week That Is (1812 Productions) The funniest yet of the comedy company's annual roundups of all the news that gives you fits - a hoot, and with the best multimedia, too. Through Friday.

- H.S.

The Three Musketeers (The Later Years) (People's Light & Theatre) The seventh annual totally original holiday panto has fights, tights, catchy songs, and, as always, actor Mark Lazar in a dress - plus a ton of silliness combined with a ton of laughs. Through Jan. 9. - H.S.

The Very Merry Xmas Carol Holiday Adventure Show (Theatre Horizon) Fringe faves the Berserker Residents team with Theatre Horizon for a fun, original take on traditional Christmas stories. Through Friday. - W.R.

White Christmas (Walnut Street Theatre) Based on the 1954 Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye film, this musical is as light, fluffy, and pretty as its namesake. Through Jan. 9. - W.R.

Video

The American ***

Melancholy and lyrical character study starring George Clooney as a utility player in the assassination game. 1 hr. 43

R

(nudity, sex, violence) -

C.R.