This controversial documentary relates the story of departed British soul singer Amy Winehouse "in her own words." Archival footage and unheard tracks enliven the film's slow-motion car crash of a narrative. Fans will feel the loss most deeply, but even those who didn't listen to Winehouse may find themselves gripped by the unflinching account. 128 minutes R.
The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe offering is smaller than its fellow superhero movies in a number of ways. Paul Rudd is fine and dandy as a cat burglar recruited by an aging scientist (Michael Douglas) to don a powerful shrinking suit and fight the bad guys. The size-changing special effects are a blast, but the film is neither fish nor fowl. There's not enough humor to make it a comedy, and too little action to compete with the big boys of summer. It's perfectly entertaining in moments, but this one needed a lot more style and spark to avoid the "generic Marvel movie" pit it occasionally stumbles into. FULL REVIEW:Marvel gets small for latest addition to its cinematic universe by Devin D. O’Leary (7/23/2015). 117 minutes PG-13.
This on-the-ground exercise in embedded journalism looks at the real-life journeys of two modern-day vigilante groups as they battle the murderous Mexican drug cartels. In the Mexican state of Michoacán, a small-town doctor leads a citizens uprising against the local drug cartel. In Arizona's Altar Valley, an American veteran heads a small paramilitary group trying to stop Mexico's drug wars from crossing the border. Filmmaker Matthew Heineman snagged two major awards at this year's Sundance Film Festival for this vivid documentary about ordinary people fighting corruption. 98 minutes R.
Cheap, "found footage" horror film "from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious" about a group of people wandering into a claustrophobic location and videotaping themselves while they're stalked and killed, one by one? Check. TV commercials emphasizing "hidden camera" footage of real audiences jumping at the film's various "Boo!" moments? Check. So what's new? ... Well, Kathie Lee Gifford's daughter is in it. 80 minutes R.
Blythe Danner (Meet the Parents) stars in this comedy-drama-romance about "a widow and former songstress who discovers that life can begin anew at any age"--which is pretty much the theme of every movie aimed at the AARP crowd. The material is familiar, but Danner sells it with charm and skill. 85 minutes PG-13.
Pixar mixes up another can't-miss instaclassic. This stunningly original, digitally animated toon takes us inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl and introduces us to the anthropomorphized feelings at work inside her head. Chief among them is Joy (perfect Amy Poehler), who's stuck working with a bunch of negative Nellies (Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust). But when Joy and Sadness get lost in the recesses of the young girl's mind, the film warps from an inventive workplace comedy to a wildly imaginative, Willy Wonka-esque fantasy. It seems silly to say that a film about emotions is emotional, but trust me when I say this film has all the feels! FULL REVIEW:Pixar’s emotional new fantasy has all the feels by Devin D. O’Leary (6/25/2015). 94 minutes PG.
I'm not upset that Hollywood has decided to make a third Jurassic Park sequel. Because, you know, money. I am, however, ticked off that the fictional executives at InGen thought they could get away with this. Did someone at the corporation send out a memo saying, "Hey, everybody. Remember that dinosaur theme park we were trying to open? You know, the one where the tourists kept getting eaten over and over and over again? Well, we're pretty sure we've got all the kinks worked out. Fourth time's the charm!" I mean, come on. ... Ah, well, at least we've got Chris Pratt. He's cool. 124 minutes PG-13.
Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) and John Cusack (High Fidelity) split the role of Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson in this musical biopic about the musician's struggles with mental illness. Dano is terrific, but the Cusack sections (set in the '80s) feel like a weird add-on. 120 minutes PG-13.
The ab-having studs of Magic Mike (Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, Kevin Nash, Adam Rodriquez) return. It's been three years since our "magic" hero got out of the male stripper business, but he's recruited by the remaining Kings of Tampa to go on one last, blowout performance in Myrtle Beach. Bottom line: Hot guys take off their clothes to the Backstreet Boys. Who needs more information than that? 115 minutes R.
Academy Award winner Al Pacino gives a more restrained than usual performance as a lonely, small-town Texas locksmith who spends his days caring for his cat and mooning over a long-lost love. Enter kindhearted banker Dawn (Holly Hunter), who tries to lure him out of his self-imposed isolation. Your appreciation for this tiny character study will boil down to how much you take to the slow, hazy surrealism of director David Gordon Green (George Washington, All the Real Girls, Prince Avalanche). 97 minutes PG-13.
Lassie gets a patriotic, post-9/11 makeover. A dog that helped U.S. Marines in Afghanistan returns to America and is adopted by his handler's teenage brother after "suffering a traumatic experience." Troubled teen and troubled dog bond. Then somebody gets lost in the woods, and there's an adventure. 111 minutes PG.
A teenage filmmaker (Thomas Mann) befriends a classmate with leukemia (Olivia Cooke) in this sensitive, offbeat adaptation of Jesse Andrews' best-selling YA novel. This funny, frank examination of young adulthood deftly avoids cliché and convention, giving audiences an unexpectedly bracing dose of humor and melancholy. FULL REVIEW:Teenage dramedy avoids cliché, but not sympathy by Devin D. O’Leary (7/2/2015). 105 minutes PG-13.
The lovable yellow sidekicks from the Despicable Me films finally get their own spin-off. History tells us that the Minions have been around since the dawn of time, looking for evildoers to whom they can pledge their slavish devotion. This hectic, anarchy-driven toon takes us to swingin' '60s London where a trio of semi-moronic Minions try to help the world's first female supervillain (voiced by Sandra Bullock) steal the Crown Jewels. The plot is terribly inconsequential--but it's hard to deny the silly fun to be had along the way. 91 minutes PG.
An elderly, retired Sherlock Holmes (Sir Ian McKellen) looks back on his life and career, trying to come to grips with one long-unsolved case involving a beautiful woman. Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls) directs from the novel by Mitch Cullin. 104 minutes PG.
Author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) contributes another YA drama for Hollywood adaptation. In this one a young man (Nat Wolff from The Fault in Our Stars) and his friends embark on a road trip to find the girl next door (British fashion model Cara Delevingne) who has vanished under odd circumstances, leaving behind a set of clues. 109 minutes PG-13.
When space aliens misinterpret video game signals from Earth as a challenge to war, a group of former arcade nerds (Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad) are recruited by the government to fight off the likes of Donkey Kong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders. The story (based on a short film) is loaded with nostalgic potential ... all of which is squashed by bored-to-be-here Adam Sandler and his pals. 106 minutes PG-13.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams star in this gritty sports drama about a boxer trying to get his life back on track after losing his wife to a tragic accident and his daughter to child protective services. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter, The Equalizer) directs. Gyllenhaal gives it his all, but his greatest opponent is sports movie cliché. 123 minutes R.
Writer-director-actor Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy") returns for more raunchy shenanigans. MacFarlane once again voices talking, boozing, sex-crazed teddy bear Ted while Mark Wahlberg plays his lifelong human pal. This time around Ted and his new bride (Jessica Barth) want to have a baby. But first, Ted has to prove his "personhood" in court. Hijinks ensue. 115 minutes R.
The Terminator series reboots itself with a partially new cast (Jai Courtney from "Spartacus: War of the Damned" as Kyle Reese, Emilia Clarke from "Game of Thrones" as Sarah Connor), a muddled script and an "alternate timeline." Seems it's 1984 again. Young Sarah Connor has been fully warned of Skynet's plans for Judgment Day and is protecting herself with a reprogrammed (and rather old) Terminator (played, of course, by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Then John Connor shows up from the future, only he's a Terminator now, and things get super confusing. See what you did, Star Trek? 122 minutes PG-13.
Red-hot sketch comedian Amy Schumer writes and stars in this surprisingly deep comedy for director Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up). It's just as raunchy as you're imagining, but Schumer contributes a lot of realistic drama as a commitment-phobic party girl who finds herself attracted to a nice-guy sports physician (Bill Hader). The film ignores all the usual plot tropes of romantic comedies that keep the main characters apart. Here, it's just the people, their emotions and their histories that make things complicated. Ass-smackingly funny and unexpectedly grown up. FULL REVIEW:Judd Apatow + Amy Schumer = Love by Devin D. O’Leary (7/16/2015). 125 minutes R.
At least this reboot/sequel starts with a clever idea: Some 30 years after that fateful vacation to Wally World with his parents, now-grown-up Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms, taking over from Anthony Michael Hall) vows to recreate the journey with his wife (Christina Applegate) and kids. 99 minutes R.
At least this run-of-the-mill "exorcist battles demon for the soul of a young girl" horror flick does away with the "found footage" style so many of its brethren (The Devil Inside, The Last Exorcism) rely on. Michael Peña, Olivia Taylor Dudley and Dougray Scott star. Given that this comes to us from the amped-up director of Crank and Gamer, it's surprisingly low-key. 90 minutes PG-13.