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Barnyard

Otis (voice of Kevin James) is a cow - OK, technically a bull, but he's got an udder - who lives to party and joyride. That doesn't sit well with his dad, Ben (Sam Elliott), who has the responsibility of protecting the barnyard animals from marauding coyotes. But when those coyotes attack and kill Ben - in a sequence that may be too much for younger viewers - Otis has to step up and learn to be a protective adult in order to save his animal pals. This would-be comedy clocks in at just under 90 minutes, but it feels endless, probably because there's nothing here you haven't seen before far too many times. Anthropomorphic animals? Check. Pop-culture references? Check. Soon-to-be-dated slang? Check. Celebrity voices (including Wanda Sykes, Danny Glover, and Andie MacDowell)? Check. Worth checking out? Nope.

Grade: C-

Kinsey Scale: 1 ( No gay content, but MacDowell starred in the queer-inclusive "Four Weddings and a Funeral," and gay-favorite Sykes guest-starred on "Will & Grace.")

The Night Listener

Radio host Gabriel Noone (Robin Williams) befriends 14-year-old, AIDS-afflicted Pete Logand (Rory Culkin) and his adoptive mother Donna (Toni Collette) after reading Pete's harrowing memoir of abuse. Heartbroken over the recent collapse of his relationship, Gabriel embraces this new friendship, until he grows suspicious that Pete and Donna are the same person. Based on Armistead Maupin's fact-based novel, what begins as a character-driven drama limning Gabriel's emotional devastation evolves into a suspenseful thriller as he turns detective to root out the truth. An uncommonly sober Williams delivers his best performance in years, and he's well-matched by Culkin and Collette. Only Bobby Cannavale, as Gabriel's ex-lover, injects a false note. He and Williams share so little chemistry that their relationship is simply unbelievable.

Grade: B

Kinsey Scale: 6 (Queer author Maupin penned the screenplay with his former partner Terry Anderson and director Patrick Stettner. He is also the author of the books that inspired the "Tales of the City" TV miniseries. Williams starred in "The Birdcage" and had a cameo in "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar," while Collette appeared in "Velvet Goldmine," "The Hours," and "Connie and Carla." Cannavale was Will's lover on "Will & Grace," and also had roles in "Happy Endings," "Six Feet Under," and "Oz." Co-star Sandra Oh's queer credits include roles in "Further Tales of the City," "Six Feet Under," "Under the Tuscan Sun," and "Wilby Wonderful.")

Scoop

While spending the summer in London with rich friends, American journalism student Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johansson) sees the ghost of an ace reporter (Ian McShane), who gives her a great scoop from beyond the grave: Aristocrat Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman) is a serial killer. With the help of a cheesy stage magician (Woody Allen), Sondra gets close to Peter and starts snooping. Sondra and Peter wind up falling in love - but what if he winds up being a murderer? A breezy whodunnit in the style of Allen's "Manhattan Murder Mystery," "Scoop" isn't nearly as good as that earlier movie; on the other hand, it's much more entertaining than any of his recent comedies, assuming you're still a fan of his schticky one-liners. ("I was born into the Hebrew persuasion, but I converted to narcissism," for instance.) Johansson is no Diane Keaton when it comes to delivering Allen's punchlines, but all in all, "Scoop" manages to be thoroughly pleasant, if nothing more.

Grade: B-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Jackman camped his way to a Tony award with his portrayal of flamboyant gay singer-songwriter Peter Allen in Broadway's "The Boy from Oz"; he also starred in the queer-friendly "X-Men" movies.)

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Redneck NASCAR racing champion Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) is number one on the circuit and feels invincible, but his confidence is shattered and his career undermined when he finds himself coming in second to Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen). To add insult to injury, Girard is French, queer, and seemingly sophisticated. Ferrell and director Adam McKay penned this good-natured, gleefully dopey twin satire of NASCAR and sports movies with the seemingly sole intention of gathering the cream of comic actors and letting them cut loose. That they do, delivering a symphony of hilarious performances so finely honed that even the lamest jokes work and punch lines deliver a wallop. This is that true cinematic rarity: a dumb comedy that plays it smart.

Grade: A-

Kinsey Scale: 3 (This represents a first - a mainstream summer comedy in which a lead character is openly and positively gay with little of the homophobia or panic that normally attends such characters. Ferrell appeared in "The Producers," "Boat Trip," and "Zoolander." Co-star Jane Lynch is openly lesbian and has had a recurring role on "The L Word." Among co-star John C. Reilly's queer-interest credits are appearances in "Boogie Nights," "The Hours," and "Chicago." Pat Hingle played J. Edgar Hoover in "Citizen Cohn" and also had a role in "Bastard Out of Carolina," while Molly Shannon played recurring characters on "Will & Grace" and "Sex and the City." Andy Richter - who plays Girard's husband, Gregory - also guested on "Will & Grace.")

ALSO IN THEATERS:

The Ant Bully

Young Lucas (voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen) vents his frustration over moving to a new city by kicking over the anthills in his yard. To teach him a lesson, Wizard Ant Zoc (Nicolas Cage) shrinks the boy, whom the ants call "Lucas the Destroyer," down to ant-size. When the kid realizes that ant colonies are actually complex and interdependent societies, he eventually rallies to their aid as they fight off a mean exterminator (Paul Giamatti). While this animated feature from the creator of "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" treads familiar ground - parents will recognize elements from "Antz," "A Bug's Life," "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," and even this summer's "Over the Hedge" - kids will be delighted by the colorful talking creatures. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy playing guess-who with the all-star voice cast, which also includes Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, and Julia Roberts.

Grade: B-

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Legendary lesbian comic and actress Tomlin turns up as Lucas' tabloids-obsessed grandma, and Tomlin's "A Prairie Home Companion" co-star Streep - who played a lesbian in "The Hours" and "Manhattan" - is appropriately regal as the Ant Queen.)

Clerks II

Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) plans to move to Florida with his fiancee, Emma (Jennifer Schwalbach). But on his last day flipping burgers at Mooby's, freedom seems like a mirage as he acknowledges his growing feelings for his boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson), while dealing with the fallout from his best friend Randal's (Jeff Anderson) verbal assaults on their customers. Twelve years have passed since writer-director Kevin Smith immortalized Dante and Randal in his feature debut, but neither character has evolved even a fraction. Put-upon Dante is still sweet and frustrated, while motor-mouthed Randal's penchant for outrageous remarks remains. Profane, impudent in its devotion to the politically incorrect, and oddly romantic, this vulgar comedy is also one of the most purely hilarious movies of the year.

Grade: A

Kinsey Scale: 2 (Ostensibly everyone is the movie is straight, but Randal comes across as deeply closeted, secretly in love with Dante, and seized by gay panic - something that comes out in his running commentary. Smith previously made the straight man/lesbian romance "Chasing Amy," which O'Halloran and co-stars Jason Mewes, Ben Affleck, Ethan Suplee, and Jason Lee appeared in. Dawson starred in "Rent" and "Alexander," while co-star Wanda Sykes had a guest shot on "Will & Grace.")

The Devil Wears Prada

Brainy but frumpy Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) hopes to jumpstart a journalism career when she becomes "Runway" magazine editor Miranda Priestly's (Meryl Streep) assistant. What begins as a crash course in haute couture quickly evolves into an apprenticeship in Hades, as imperious Miranda demands round-the-clock availability from her new lackey. While Hathaway is the nominal star of this witty, if sometimes overly broad satire of high fashion and the workplace, she pales next to the formidable, hilarious Streep. She is a delight to watch, whether playing up Miranda's catlike glee in toying with her underlings or emphasizing the woman's instinct for the jugular. Her droll discourse on the place of cerulean blue in the fashion food chain alone is worth the price of admission.

Grade: B+

Kinsey Scale: 2 (The movie never really acknowledges the strong gay presence and influence in fashion, and it is reticent on the sexuality of some characters, notably Miranda's right-hand man, Nigel - played by Stanley Tucci - who is apparently gay. Streep has been in a number of queer-themed projects, most recently "Angels in America" and "The Hours," and Hathaway was Jake Gyllenhaal's unwitting beard in "Brokeback Mountain." Co-stars with queer credits include Emily Blunt, Tracie Thoms, Simon Baker, Adrian Grenier, Daniel Sunjata, and David Marshall Grant. Director David Frankel helmed six episodes of "Sex and the City.")

Lady in the Water

When an otherworldly nymph (Bryce Dallas Howard) appears at a Philadelphia apartment complex, building manager Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) and his tenants dedicate themselves to helping her return home, but first they must prevent a wolf-like creature from her world from killing her. A prologue suggests that the nymph arrives to save humanity, but if so, the movie never gets around to spinning that yarn. Based on a fairy tale that writer/director M. Night Shyamalan made up for his children, the story should have stayed in the family. The all-star cast is impressive, but the tale is woefully underwritten and makes little sense. Further undermining the enterprise are cheesy special effects and abrupt shifts in tone, veering wildly from the sentimental, to the horrific, to the unintentionally comic.

Grade: C

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Much of the cast has amassed queer credits. Bob Balaban played a gay movie producer in Gosford Park and also appeared in "Capote"; Sarita Choudhury had roles in Spike Lee's "She Hate Me" and in "High Art"; Jared Harris was Andy Warhol in "I Shot Andy Warhol" and had a role in "Happiness"; Mary Beth Hurt appeared in "Boys Life 2" and "Six Degrees of Separation"; Bill Irwin co-starred in "The Laramie Project"; Freddy Rodriguez had a recurring role on "Six Feet Under"; and Jeffrey Wright starred in "Angels in America.")

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