Friday movie roundup – Aug. 4

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It’s common enough for films I saw at Sundance to open in regular theaters later, but usually only in limited release. Yet this weekend there are two from Sundance 2006, and both are opening wide.

They are “The Night Listener” and “The Descent,” both being advertised as suspense thrillers, though only “The Descent” actually is. “The Night Listener” is good but not great; “The Descent,” on the other hand, is fantastic. It’s truly one of the scariest films I’ve seen in years, about six women who go spelunking and encounter all manner of terror down below.

“The Descent” actually opened in England last year and is already on DVD over there. The American version is the same except for a slightly different ending — the British version was a little more bleak. Rest assured that both endings will be on the U.S. DVD when the time comes. Seeing the flick was one of the high points of a fairly lackluster Sundance lineup earlier this year.

Also opening today is “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” which is in the same spirit as “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” with the same star (Will Ferrell), same director (Adam McKay) and same writers (Ferrell and McKay). “Anchorman” made my top 10 list in 2004 and is easily one of my favorite comedies of all time. “Talladega Nights” doesn’t quite reach those heights, but it’s certainly a worthy follow-up in the Ferrell/McKay canon. And it’s obvious the DVD will be full of deleted scenes, just like “Anchorman” was.

Finally, there’s “Barnyard,” the third animated flick in three weeks, which is a colossal mistake. We saw it last weekend when “The Ant Bully” failed to make a dent against “Monster House,” and we’ll see it again this weekend, when “Barnyard” fails to make a dent against either of them. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

All this and more is in this week’s edition of “In the Dark,” which is free and which you should totally subscribe to. (We had problems with our Web host this week that prevented the e-mail from going out in a timely manner, so if you’re already an “In the Dark” subscriber and want to see today’s issue, it’s on the “In the Dark” sign-up page.)

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