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Seen and reviewed (May 21)

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New films in theaters this week:

-- "The Girl on the Train" (not rated), a drama based on a real-life "hate crime" hoax. French with subtitles.

-- "MacGruber" (rated R), an action spoof based on the "Saturday Night Live" skits.

-- "No One Knows About Persian Cats" (not rated), a quasi-documentary looking at Iran's "underground" music scene. Persian with subtitles.

-- "Shrek Forever After" (rated PG), the fourth and supposedly final film in the ultra-popular animated fantasy series. Shown in 2-D and in 3-D.

-- "The Square" (rated R), a noir thriller from Australia. Joel Edgerton ("Kinky Boots") stars.


Poster art courtesy Focus Features

The biggest surprise with "MacGruber" is not how violent and crude the movie is at times. It's that the film actually succeeds as both a spoof and as an action movie. But it is extremely R-rated.

Speaking of R-rated films, "The Square" is every bit as dark as you'd expect this kind of material to be (it recalls both "Body Heat" and "Blood Simple"). It is very well-acted and has a terrific ending, however.

The two other "art-house" releases have their share of problems. "Girl on the Train" is too aloof and cold, especially for a film that's dealing with such emotional issues. The real-life music components of "Persian Cats" are interesting, but the fictional elements are too similar to other, better films and detract from the rest of the movie.


Poster art courtesy DreamWorks Animation

And for the second week in a row, the biggest film -- in this case, it's the fourth "Shrek" feature -- may be the most disappointing of the bunch.

While there's more of a concentration on characters and story than there was in the previous installment (2007's "Shrek the Third"), it's just not very funny and seems very unnecessary. And speaking of unnecessary, the 3-D version of the movie offers nothing substantially different or better than the traditional, 2-D format one. (Those who are still planning to see the film are advised to save their money by avoiding the extra 3-D viewing costs.)

Which, if any, of these movies fit into your weekend viewing plans?