Capsule reviews of feature films

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Capsule reviews of feature films

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The Philadelphia Inquirer


BAD MOMS. 2.5 stars. Mila Kunis stars as a stressed-out working mother who teams with two similarly overtaxed women (Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn), rebelling against a hissy PTA prez (Christina Applegate) in a mildly amusing, moderately raunchy, mostly schematic comedy from the writers of “The Hangover” franchise. 1 hr. 41 R (profanity, sex, nudity, adult themes) — Steven Rea

BEN HUR. 2 stars. Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell are alternately bloodthirsty and cutely soulful as childhood BFFs in 1st century Jerusalem who become bitter enemies only to reappraise their lives after they each cross paths with Jesus. Producer Mark Burnett’s faith-based remake of Charlton Heston’s monumental 1959 action film is a timid soap opera better suited for basic cable. 2 hrs. 4 PG-13 (sequences of violence and disturbing images) — Tirdad Derakhshani

CAFE SOCIETY. 2 stars. Woody Allen’s 47th (!) feature is a burnished ‘30s period piece, shot by the master cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, but shot through with lazy one-liners and characters of only surface interest. Jesse Eisenberg stars as a kid from the Bronx who makes his way west, to work for his big-deal Hollywood agent uncle (Steve Carell). Kristen Stewart is the agent’s assistant. Familiar Allen themes — infatuation, infidelity, fate, morality, mortality — superficially ensue. 1 hr. 36 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) — Steven Rea

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC. 3.5 stars. Viggo Mortensen stars, with an amazing group of young actors, as a radical hippie dad who has raised his kids way off the grid, way outside the norms of “the real world.” When events force them to leave their rustic retreat and deal with modern-day America, the experience is jolting — and funny, moving, meaningful. 1 hr. 58 R (profanity, nudity, adult themes) — Steven Rea

DON’T BREATHE. 3 stars. Horror director Fede Alvarez follows up his fresh take on Sam Rami’s “Evil Dead” with a lean, mean, twisted home invasion thriller about three young thieves who break into the house of an aging blind man (Stephen Lang) who turns out to be vengeful, violent and bloodthirsty. One of the most suspenseful and frightening horror pics of the year, this ingenious thriller is filled with delightful twists. 1 hr. 28 R (terror, violence, disturbing content, and profanity including sexual references) — Tirdad Derakhshani

DON’T THINK TWICE. 3.5 stars. A love letter to the art of improv comedy from writer, director and actor Mike Birbiglia (“Sleepwalk with Me”). Featuring a superb cast of comics including Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs (Netflix’ “Love”), “Inside Amy Schumer” writer Tami Sagher and Garfunkel and Oates’ Kate Micucci, the showbiz satire is about an improv group that is torn apart when one of the members wins a big TV role. 1 hr. 32 R (profanity and some drug use) — Tirdad Derakhshani

EQUITY. 3 stars. Co-created by Sarah Megan Thomas and fellow actor Alysia Reiner from material they gathered from dozens of interviews with woman who work on Wall Street, this intelligent thriller tells the story of three women who must make tough decisions to succeed in their careers. Serious, smart and honest, it’s well-tuned social realism for the post financial crisis era. 1 hr. 40 R (profanity) — Tirdad Derakhshani

FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS 3.5 stars. Meryl Streep is achingly good in “The Queen” director Stephen Frears’ latest piece de resistance as Florence Foster Jenkins, an heiress and amateur singer who was dubbed the world’s worst singer. Simon Helberg all but steals the show as her pianist, while Hugh Grant is lovely as her husband. Set in the 1940s when Florence was in her mid-70s, the film follows her preparations to hold her first performance at Carnegie Hall. 1 hr. 50 PG-13 (brief suggestive material) — Tirdad Derakhshani

GHOSTBUSTERS. 3 stars. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones star in the distaff reboot/remake of the 1984 paranormal smash comedy about a squad of proton-packed spectral exterminators. Under the leadership of director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “Spy”), the gender-flipped cast proves more than a gimmick. Girl power and ghoul power — it’s a winning combination. 1 hr. 56 PG-13 (scares, supernatural violence, adult themes) — Steven Rea

HANDS OF STONE. 2 stars. An uneven, disappointing attempt to tell the fascinating story of Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán, who won world titles in four weight classes but who was lambasted when he walked out in the middle of a fight with Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980. The film moves in too many directions and never really coheres despite great performances by Edgar Ramírez (Carlos) as Durán, Robert De Niro as his trainer Ray Acel and singer Rusher Raymond as Leonard. 1 hr. 45 R (profanity, some sexuality/nudity) — Tirdad Derakhshani

HELL OR HIGH WATER. 4 stars. Jeff Bridges is a soon-to-retire Texas Ranger, teamed with his Native American partner (Gil Birmingham) as they crisscross West Texas on the trail of two desperate bank-robbing brothers (Ben Foster, Chris Pine). A contemporary Western that goes way beyond being simply satisfying genre fare. Written by Talor Sheridan, directed by David Mackenzie, a soulful, jolting, sharp-eyed affair. 1 hr. 42 R (violence, profanity, adult themes) — Steven Rea

ICE AGE: COLLISION. 1.5 stars. A glorified Saturday-morning cartoon, the fifth entry in the animated 3D family adventure reunites its well-known stars, including Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, and Jennifer Lopez for a flat, tired storyline that has our early mammalian heroes try to avert asteroids from destroying the Earth. 1 hr. 34 PG (mild rude humor and some action/peril) — Tirdad Derakhshani

JASON BOURNE. 2.5 stars. “I remember everything,” says the formerly amnesiac spy guy played by Matt Damon in his return — along with director Paul Greengrass — to the Bourne series. His CIA cohort Julia Stiles is back, too. Alicia Vikander signs on to show off her tradecraft, too. The movie spans the globe and has the great action scenes you’d expect, but now that Bourne knows who he is, the existential underpinnings of the great franchise concept are MIA. 2 hrs. 03 PG-13 (violence, action, profanity, adult themes) — Steven Rea

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS. 3.5 stars. American animator Travis Knight’s directorial debut is a gorgeous, memorable 3-D animated saga made with a mix of computer animation and stop-motion photography. Set in feudal Japan, it’s about a little boy who goes on a quest to avenge his father’s death. The great voice cast includes Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara and Matthew McConaughey. 1 hr. 41 PG (thematic elements, scary images, action and peril) — Tirdad Derakhshani

LIGHTS OUT. 3 stars. Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello face our most elemental fear, darkness, in this effective, scary, gore-free creepfest from Swedish-born director David Sandberg. Bello plays an unbalanced mother of two who neglects her kids to pursue an obsessive friendship with an imaginary creature who has wild hair and claws. Then one day, the friend becomes real and people start dying. 1 hr. 21 PG-13 (terror throughout, violence including disturbing images, some thematic material and brief drug content) — Tirdad Derakhshani

LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD. 3.5 stars. The latest doc from the indefatigable German filmmaker and intellectual Werner Herzog is a clever, playful look at the origins of the internet and how profoundly it has changed human life. While he can get a little apocalyptic at times with prophetic pronouncements about the dangers of technology, Herzog is at his best here. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (brief profanity and some thematic elements) — Tirdad Derakhshani

MORRIS FROM AMERICA. 3.5 stars. Newcomer Marquees Christmas owns the title role as a 13-year-old African-American taken to live in Germany by his recently widowed dad. Craig Robinson, from “The Office” and those “Hot Tub Time Machine” pics, delivers a wonderfully pitched performance as the father, struggling with his own grief, his own sense of alienation, and his parental responsibilities, too. Winner of two Sundance awards, Chad Hartigan’s little indie is a big deal: a charming, true-hearted coming-of-age tale. 1 hr. 30 R (language, drugs, adult themes) — Steven Rea

NERVE. 2.5 stars. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco have great chemistry in a romantic thriller about a game hosted on social media that dares teens to complete dangerous stunts around New York City. 1 hr. 36 PG-13 (dangerous and risky behavior, sexual content, profanity, drugs, drinking and nudity — all involving teens) — Tirdad Derakhshani

SAUSAGE PARTY. 3 stars. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg follow up their vicious satire “The Interview” with an even more extreme, explicit, offensive and obscenely funny comedy, an animated actioner about the products in a supermarket who rebel against their human consumers. The all-star voice cast includes Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Salma Hayek, Paul Rudd, Edward Norton, Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson. 1 hr. 39 R (strong crude sexual content, profanity and drug use) — Tirdad Derakhshani

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS. 3 stars. Directed by the “Dispicable Me” franchise’s Chris Renaud, a pet lovers’ loving salute to the domesticated animals we rely on to bring us comfort, companionship, and triple-digit veterinary bills. Louis C.K. gives voice to a needy Jack Russell, and Kevin Hart is a white bunny named Snowball (talk about color-blind casting!). An extremely animated animated romp. 1 hr. 30 PG (some scares for little kids) – Steven Rea

SOUTHSIDE WITH YOU. 3 stars. Writer-director Richard Tanne’s feature debut is a charming, modest indie drama about Barack Obama’s first date in 1989 with his wife-to-be Michelle Robinson. Decidedly apolitical, it follows the young Chicago lawyers as they fall for each other during a day-long excursion. Newcomer Parker Sawyers effortlessly emboddies the role of Barack, but the film belongs to producer-actor Tika Sumpter, who soars as Michelle, a strong, deeply intelligent and capable woman with a hint of vulnerability. 1 hr. 24 PG-13 (some profanity, smoking, a violent image and a drug reference) — Tirdad Derakhshani

STAR TREK BEYOND. 2.5 stars. “Fast & Furious: director Justin Lin takes over from rebooter J.J. Abrams, but while the action is turbocharged, the storyline — Enterprise crew stranded on hostile planet ruled by reptilian warlord (Idris Elba) — feels less epic than episodic. With Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, and company. 2 hrs. PG-13 (intense sci-fi action, violence, adult themes) — Steven Rea

SUICIDE SQUAD. 2.5 stars. Superman is dead. To protect America, a Defense Department guru (Viola Davis) forces a group of condemned metahuman killers to join a special forges team. Jared Leto and Margot Robbie steal the show as the Joker and his lover. A schizoid animal that’s absurdly dark one minute, ridiculous funny the next, the movie also features Will Smith, Common and Joel Kinnaman. 2 hrs. 03 PG-13 (sequences of violence and action throughout, disturbing behavior, suggestive content and profanity) — Tirdad Derakhshani

A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS. 2.5 stars. Natalie Portman makes her directing debut, adapting Amoz Oz’s autobiographical novel about a family in Jerusalem during the tumult and tragedies of the birth of Israel. Wheeling with flashbacks, dreams, allegorical reenactments, slow-motion shots and painterly tableaus, Portman’s ambitious film strives for a mood of elegiac grace. The striving shows. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (violence, adult themes) — Steven Rea

WAR DOGS. 2.5 stars. Jonah Hill and Miles Teller are a couple of clowns from Miami who figure out how to sell guns and ammo to the U.S. military in Todd Phillips’ (“The Hangover”) gonzo take on a true story. Stop the presses: War makes people rich. Stop the movie: these people, who cares? 1 hr. 54 R (violence, profanity, drugs, adult themes) — Steven Rea


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