If summer at the multiplex is Paris Hilton, that makes Christmastime Helen Mirren. Everyone knows the rules--we get three months in the summer to frolic and eat popcorn, but when the end of the year comes, we have to get serious. Each movie that comes out seems to have its eye on the trophy-shaped prize, and as a result, my brain feels more worked out than my biceps. If you're like me, Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol wasn't really the movie that you were clamoring for, but it might surprise you as being one of the most fun films of the last six weeks. I didn't care about anything in this movie aside from the absolutely astounding use of technology to nab the bad guys. It seems like every scene has its own incomprehensibly cool gadget that'll make James Bond hunker down in a corner and cry himself to sleep. Hey Paramount: if any of you had told me that there would be modern-day power gloves in this movie, I would have been about a million times more excited to see it. And that's only one of the amazing contraptions--they use iPads to create digital smokescreens, and they even connect a borg-like contact lens wirelessly to a printer. You guys, I can't even get a printer to connect to my computer with a cord--that's movie magic right there. And one guy even has an entire silver platter of cell phones. This whole movie is awesome. The actors' performance feels effortless--perhaps because the script is a little less complicated than the other films--but the absent stench of desperation makes it more fun than doing late-night donuts in a parking lot. Every scene is more interesting than the last. Simon Pegg is delightful, Jeremy Renner is appropriately mysterious and has some great one liners, and I will watch Paula Patton beat the crap out of a white girl until the cows come home (or she kicks her to death). The centerpiece of the film, Mister Couch Jumper himself, does so many berserk stunts that I eventually abandoned all sense of personal space and started high-fiving the stranger sitting next to me. If I had to judge a movie strictly by the number of times I exclaimed, Ouch, What?!, Nuh UH, and No way, this movie would get 42 stars on a 5 scale.

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