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Chasing Happiness (NR)

Stonelock Pictures

This is the worst possible kind of indie comedy: the shallow, chasing-dreams-while-reciting-insipidly-unfunny-dialogue-about-penises kind. Elisa Donovan heads a cast of grating dreamers, as the "madam" of a house that specializes in various bilkings: there's a card shark, a faux-Indian spiritualist and a male prostitute masquerading as a sex surrogate. Of course, each of these cardboard cutouts of humanity has something the others seek: money, careers and, especially, love. Too bad each is so badly drawn and self-centered that you hope the entire house goes up in flames. This type of L.A.-based indie is a comedically lame attempt at enlightenment by someone who's never been out of California, or at least its poisonous state of mind. — Louis Fowler


Trippin (NR)

Camp Motion Pictures

On even-thinner-than-shoestring budgets, Camp Motion consistently releases interesting and fun little schlockers that guarantee a good time. Its latest release, Trippin, is no different, blending the stoner comedy with the slasher-in-the-woods scenario and letting it rip. While the other kids fall into the typical slasher-film tropes, the real star of the show is Zed Wilson, who plays the finest white-boy pothead since Jeff Spicoli, going through his own comedy of horrors as his hallucinations and freak-outs spiral further downward while his friends are butchered. I hope director Devi Snively has more adventures with Zed up his sleeve. — Louis Fowler


Return (NR)

Entertainment One

It's strange praise to say of a film that I was satisfied simply with the dominant presence of its lead star, but that's the driving sensation that comes from watching Freaks and Geeks graduate Linda Cardellini finally take front-and-center in a movie worthy of her considerable talents. She plays Kelli, a returning war veteran struggling to adapt to her life of familial responsibility and workplace mundanity, but this isn't another crying-in-the-shower tale of PTSD, ennui and rage. Rather, it's a low-grade simmer — Kelli didn't see much action during her war duty — that grapples with the concept of relative trauma. Debut writer-director Liza Johnson brings a deft touch to the proceedings and teases out great performances from Cardellini, Michael Shannon and Mad Men's John Slattery. — Justin Strout

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