BAMcinématek, May 6 through 9

The original stomping ground for fairy-tale theater and tabletop microcosmos, what's now the Czech Republic remains a global hub for animated film, exploring its centuries-old puppeteering heritage and voyaging to where no stop-motion junk-drawer movie has gone before. This BAM series reaches as far back as the post-war work of Jiri Trnka and Karel Zeman—this might be the last chance in an eon to see Trnka's The Czech Year (1947) and Song of the Prairie (1949), as well as Zeman's rare early shorts and his best-ever version of Baron Munchausen (1961), on a screen large enough to do the hand-carved details justice. The programs, otherwise running from pioneer Bretislav Pojar to epic maker Jiri Barta, rounds out with a sampling from famed antique modernist Jan Svankmajer; the new film is Aurel Klimt and Vlasta Pospisilova's Fimfarum (2002), a nasty, charming rendition of neo-medieval fantasist Jan Werich's stories: alcoholics in hell, deals with the devil, shuttled corpses, and divine retribution. MICHAEL ATKINSON

Directed by Dennie Gordon
Warner Bros., opens May 7

Those concerned for the welfare of child actors need not fear for the Olsen twins, who had the good sense to turn their New York college tour into this frantic travelogue—an ode to sisterhood that, thanks to an abundance of cameos (Jack Osbourne, Darrell Hammond, a bemused Bob Saget) or the twins' burgeoning sex appeal, managed to evade direct-to-video doom. Mary-Kate is Roxy, amateur drummer and Ferris Bueller disciple, who must brave the LIRR commute and dodge a Nassau County truancy officer (Eugene Levy) to give her demo tape to Simple Plan. Ashley is Jane, student body president and captain of her cheerleading squad, who's delivering the speech of her life at Columbia that same afternoon. (The stakes: a scholarship to Oxford—3,000 miles away from Roxy.) The whole project reeks of vanity, but it doesn't take a Columbia degree to see that any movie where the Michelle Tanners trudge via sewer from CPS to 125th is an instant camp classic. BEN KENIGSBERG

Directed by Robert Mickleson
Hannover House/Abandon, opens May 7, AMC Empire

Armed with a boyfriend, a bikini, and the journalistic skills of a teen blogger, Kat (Marguerite Moreau) journeys to Hawaii for a surf webzine to document her search for big-wave legend "The Monk," described redundantly as "part spiritual leader, part guru." In the process, she ditches her Godard-worshipping beau, mounts a bedraggled Spicoli, and, like, finds herself. This inane debut feature is based around neon-suffused stock surfing footage from a Compaq commercial, so it's a notable accomplishment that Off the Lip succeeds at being laughably highfalutin. Filmed with logic-defying surveillance cameras and a fake documentary crew, the film commits its most sidesplitting atrocity in an emphatic repeated shot that reminds us that surfing and Web-surfing are basically the same word! AKIVA GOTTLIEB

Directed by Wally Wolodarsky
Lantern Lane, opens May 7

A comedy of peculiarly modern sexual insecurities, Seeing Other People opens with Ed (Jay Mohr) and Alice (Julianne Nicholson) living happily in semi-bored suburban domesticity. Witnessing an anonymous tryst at her engagement party, Alice questions the adequacy of her own sexual history and convinces her reluctant fiancé that both be allowed to have "meaningless sex" with other people before their wedding. It's a fine contemporary screwball setup fleshed out with lively stock characters and appropriately ridiculous situations—one sequence involving Ed on a midnight crack run with an ex-Harvard hottie plays like a parallel-universe twist on Howard Hawks's Monkey Business. While lacking a knockout scene, the script is full of solid laughs punctuated with pangs of emotional insight. Hot to trot and hip to be square, Seeing Other People is ultimately as sweet-natured as its central couple. JOSHUA LAND

Written and directed by Alejandro Agresti
Miramax, opens May 7, Paris Theatre

For an eight-year-old, Valentín (Rodrigo Noya) is remarkably resourceful: Forever waxing philosophical in voice-over, he convinces a doctor to examine his ailing grandma (Carmen Maura), serves as matchmaker for his deadbeat dad's girlfriend (Julieta Cardinali), and pulls his lovelorn pianist neighbor (Mex Urtizberea) out of a funk. The cross-eyed tyke also wears grotesquely oversize glasses—an ocular appendage that we're meant to find endearing. But Argentinean director Alejandro Agresti's own specs are rose-colored. This loosely autobiographical tale feels inorganically upbeat, with all potentially upsetting material glossed over or truncated. Valentín's unaccompanied strolls around Buenos Aires are treated as adorable instead of harrowing; the film cuts away whenever his abusive father starts to seem threatening. Forget The 400 Blows—this aggressively quaint Miramax offering aspires to be The 400 Awwws. B.K.

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