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This publicity phoreleased by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows Helen Hunt left John Hawkes  scene from 'The Sessions.' (AP Photo/Fox

This publicity photo released by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows Helen Hunt, left, and John Hawkes in a scene from "The Sessions." (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:55AM

Now playing at a theater near you:

Alex Cross ★ 1/2

Tyler Perry looks the part of James Patterson’s big, athletic hero, but he’s low-key-bordering-on-sleepwalker dull, and the standard-issue cop-vs.-serial-killer story presents Cross as more of a dopey psycho-babbler than a guy whose incisive mind cuts right to the heart of the case. With Edward Burns, Matthew Fox and Cicely Tyson. (PG-13, 102 min.)

Argo ★★★★

When protestors stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 people hostage, six employees sneaked out a back door and sought refuge at the home of Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor (Victor Garber). Longtime CIA operative Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) comes up with a crazy scheme to rescue them: He’ll fly to Tehran, pretend that they all entered the country together to scout locations for a schlocky sci-fi movie called “Argo,” then walk right out the front door with them and fly home. (R, 120 min.)

Frankenweenie ★★★

Charlie Tahan provides the voice of Victor, a 10-year-old loner who’s understandably devastated when his only friend — his bull terrier, Sparky — gets hit by a car. But a lesson from his science teacher (Martin Landau) inspires Victor (whose last name happens to be Frankenstein) to try and bring Sparky back to life. (PG , 88 min.)

Here Comes the Boom ★

Henry Winkler as the music teacher faced with budget cuts that propel Kevin James, a tubby science teacher, onto the fighting circuit to raise cash and former UFC champ Bas Rutten as James’ trainer. (PG, 104 min.)

Looper ★★★ 1/2

The year is 2044, and America has fallen into a state of stylish squalor. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in his darkest role yet, plays Joe, a junkie and former criminal who makes ends meet in this depraved world by working as a “looper,” a hired gun. Time travel hasn’t been invented yet, but it will be 30 years further in the future. A powerful mob boss known as the Rainmaker sends his enemies back in time to have them obliterated with no loose ends. But sometimes, future versions of the loopers themselves show up on the spot. (R, 119 min.)

The Paperboy ★★ 1/2

A hotshot Miami journalist (McConaughey) returns to his hometown to investigate whether a greasy swamp rat named Hilary Van Wetter (John Cusack) was placed wrongfully on death row for the murder of a local sheriff. He and his writing partner (David Oyelowo) are there at the urging of the tarty, boozy Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman), who’s become Hilary’s prison pen-pal and true love. (R, 106 min.)

The Sessions ★★ 1/2

Based on the true story of a man with polio who spends most of his time in an iron lung. John Hawkes stars as Mark O’Brien, the poet and journalist whose 1990 article, “On Seeing a Sex Surrogate,” inspired the script. Writer-director Ben Lewin delicately, helpfully lays out the details of Mark’s daily existence, including the fact that he can breathe on his own for a few hours at a time and that, while he can’t move anything from the neck down, he can feel sensation. Hence, his interest in visiting a sex therapist. (R, 95 min.)

Seven Psychopaths ★★ 1/2

Colin Farrell plays Marty, a hard-drinking screenwriter in Los Angeles. He gets sucked into the hijinks of his friend Billy (Sam Rockwell), whose dog-napping scheme turns bloody when Billy and his friend Hans (Christopher Walken) swipe the Shih Tzu of a pooch-loving gangster (Woody Harrelson). (R, 110 min.)

Smashed ★★

A first-grade teacher (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds her marriage and her work in jeopardy when she tries to stop drinking. Aaron Paul of “Breaking Bad” is her hard-partying husband. (R, 85 min.)

Taken 2 ★ 1/2

The family patriarch (Rade Sherbedgia) of all the thugs Liam Neeson’s ex-CIA Bryan Mills killed in the first movie for kidnapping his daughter in a prostitution ring proclaims that the dead are crying out for justice — so he and a countless band of goons head off to Istanbul to exact revenge from Mills, his daughter (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife (Famke Janssen). (PG-13, 92 min.)

Won’t Back Down ★★

The focus of this save-our-school drama practically assures it will fail to join the ranks of great, or even good, education tales. The movie takes the story out of the classroom and into the halls of bureaucracy, leaving almost every kid behind to center on two plucky parents battling entrenched administrators and union leaders to turn around a failing school. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis are a pair of moms leading the fight. (PG, 121 min.)

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