"August Rush" doesn't have a manipulative moment. Sure it's unabashedly sentimental, blatantly reaching out and grabbing the moviegoer by the heart and squeezing ever so gently; which it achieves ever so nicely.

Of course, cranky, bah humbug critics, who would send Tiny Tim a bag of coal for his stocking, will warn off audiences calling the film saccharine schlock. But pay no heed. "August Rush" is entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. After all, isn't this the season for sentiment and music and wonderful cliches, while children listen intently for the sound of sleigh bells?

"August Rush" is based, ever so loosely, on Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist." August (Freddie Highmore), also known as Evan Taylor, is an orphan who never knew his mother or father. Through a series of circumstances, he was taken from his mother, Lyla (Keri Russell), immediately after his birth, placed in a boys' home outside of New York City, where he has been waiting for his parents to find him. August, as it turns out, possesses a musical genius that allows him to hear music everywhere, and he believes that somehow, through music, he will be reunited with his family.

After waiting for more than 11 years, deciding that they will not find him so he must find them, he runs away from the home and heads off to NYC. So begins his adventure. Initially he falls in with a group of street kids, loosely organized by a crafty coot called Wizard (Robin Williams) who houses his charges in an abandoned theater and uses them for panhandling in parks. August is given a guitar and told to play for spare change. What he does with that instrument is unexpected and stirring.

Unbeknownst to August, Lyla is a cellist and his father, Louis (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), is an Irish rocker. Hence, it's not a stretch to understand how August is genetically imprinted with a consuming love for music. August, however, possesses a talent that transcends and, of course, it is his music that eventually saves him.

"August Rush" is a sweet story, well acted, with music that is wonderful to listen to. It feels like a nifty holiday film (absent tinsel and lights), festive and life affirming and would be a good choice for a long holiday afternoon.

Enchanted

If there is a tween or early teen girl in your household, she will love "Enchanted." And it's likely any adult who trails along will find it to be enjoyable as well. This is Disney bundling up every fairy tale stereotype, and with just the slightest tongue in cheek, having at it.

In fact, Disney's first animated film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," is the template for "Enchanted," which ever so loosely constructed around that timeless story: the evil witch, the poison apple, the kiss from the one true love.

Here we have young and beautiful Giselle (Amy Adams), waiting for Edward (James Marsden), her prince charming, to come along and take her away on his trusty steed, to the castle on the hill where they will live happily ever after. Birds chirp, the forest animals are overjoyed ... but wait, the wicked queen, Narissa (Susan Sarandon), will have none of it. And brewing up a batch of magic, she sends the young bride-to-be to New York City where Giselle arrives no longer animated but the real deal, tiara, princess dress, and lots of NYC traffic. Of course, gallant Edward follows, puffy shirt and sword and tights and ... yes, NYC traffic.

Naturally there is Robert, another prince charming, who is also a NYC lawyer, who tries to help Giselle sort out where she is and what to do now. Naturally there is chemistry, park pigeons show up to clean up his messy apartment, a funny chipmunk named Pip is everywhere, there are lots of improbable scenes, a couple of songs, and a touch of magic. Keep in mind that Queen Narissa is not happy so she sends herself to NYC, and right in the middle of afternoon traffic.

Is "Enchanted" enchanting? It is, given its audience. There is nothing wrong in believing that fairy tales will come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart. Or if you are 8-13-years old and wear a bit of glitter and have stuffed animals on your bed. Real life comes later. But for now ... life can indeed seem enchanting.

The Darjeeling Limited

The road trip: its permutations for Hollywood screenwriters and filmmakers are endless, be it planes, trains, automobiles or Huck Finn's raft. And for writers, it's not the destination it's the journey. The trip offers a stream of locations, situations and people, all which have to be sorted out and in the sorting, the main characters are tested, their personalities revealed. From "Thelma and Louise" to "It Happened One Night," "Motorcycle Diaries," "Easy Rider," "Sideways," and "Rain Man," road trip movies offer new and, yes, exciting possibilities ""it's always the journey, not the destination.

Now if the journey is a spiritual quest, and if you're traveling by rail, well, what better place to be than on a train like the Darjeeling Limited, heading across country in India. And that's where three brothers, all in a deep funk, meet up. They've recently lost their father, who was run down by a taxi cab, and their mother has fled to a nunnery somewhere on a hilltop in a remote Indian province. The destination of the trip, known, at least initially, only to Francis (Owen Wilson), the oldest brother &

who has, in effect, raised his two younger siblings, Jack (Jason Schwartzman) and Peter (Adrien Brody) &

is to be reunited with their mother (Anjelica Huston).

Of course, embedded in most roadie movies is the premise that if you've reached an existential crossroads in your life, a trip (or, in the extreme, permanent relocation), will bring insight and possible renewal. It's a seductive and familiar assumption. Look toward the horizon. Imagine life somewhere else. India? What could be more exotic. Land of cultures layered, one on top of the other like intricate and unfathomable lattice work. Known but unknowable. The textures of the country jarring, lovely, demanding, always flooding the senses.

For the brothers, who haven't seen each other for a year, and at the insistence of Francis, this could be their chance to find themselves and each other.

All board the Limited with lots of luggage and even more personal baggage. In fact, their luggage becomes a wonderful metaphor, as they lug the various pieces from pillar to post, on top of buses, on and off of the train, and finally, as the film slips into it's denouement, they jettison it altogether. An obvious moment, sure, but it works.

"The Darjeeling Limited" is not a traditional film; not even close. We know little to nothing about the brothers. We know less about the mother. Rather, the film is an invitation to spend two hours with the three siblings, your movie ticket giving you a quirky, interesting, funny, aimless, sometimes pointless ride on the Darjeeling Limited. Bon Voyage.