Movie Reviews

Posted September 1, 2017 at 12:00 am

The Glass Castle  

Lionsgate  

Film version of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 memoir of her impoverished childhood tries to put a cheery gloss on everything, as if all the excruciating history was somehow not as bad as it seemed at the time. Together with her alcoholic, wannabe-engineer father (Woody Harrelson) and failed artist of a mother (Naomi Watts) as well as her three siblings Walls (Ella Anderson, mostly, as a child; Brie Larson from high school on) leads a peripatetic existence one step ahead of the law and bill collectors before ending up in Dad’s hometown of Welch, West Virginia. There are no moral forces at work in the story. There’s only the feral ability to survive. Yet director Destin Daniel Cretton, who co-wrote the screenplay with Andrew Lanham, avoids all the most wretched material from the book to invoke some kind of rosy Appalachian glow. A brief scene of implied child sexual abuse, physical violence, fleeting profanities and rough language. A-III; PG-13  

The Hitman’s Bodyguard 

Summit  

When a paid assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) becomes the key witness in the trial of a murderous dictator (Gary Oldman) an Interpol agent (Elodie Yung) turns to a once highly regarded but now down-on-his-luck security specialist (Ryan Reynolds) to give the killer the protection her agency has proven itself unable to provide. What she fails to reckon on is the fact that the gunman and his proposed guardian are old and bitter enemies. Jackson mouths off and Reynolds fumes as odd-couple humor paces the mounting body count in director Patrick Hughes’ excessively mayhem-ridden action flick. Some dialogue justifying revenge only reinforces the general disregard for life underlying the proceedings. Skewed values, constant violence with much gore, cohabitation, several uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language. O; R  

Logan Lucky 

Bleecker Street  

A merry band of mismatched misfits from West Virginia turn to crime in the hope of a better life beyond the trailer park in this zany heist caper, directed by Steven Soderbergh. A coal miner (Channing Tatum), desperate for money after losing his job, enlists his one-armed bartender brother (Adam Driver) and sassy beautician sister (Riley Keough) to rob a racetrack. They spring a demolition expert (Daniel Craig) from prison for the day and, with his dimwit brothers (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson) in tow, try to evade a nosy FBI agent (Hilary Swank). The ensuing romp is an amusing bit of fluff, a tasty confection that does not linger long in the memory. Possibly acceptable for mature teens. Drug references, occasional profane and crude language. A-III; PG-13  

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature  

Open Road  

Frenzied but bland animated children’s comedy pits a corrupt mayor (voice of Bobby Moynihan) against the band of animals (their leaders voiced by Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl) who inhabit his city’s main park as he schemes to bulldoze the space, and turn it into a profit-making amusement concern. Respectable themes about protecting the environment and the value of friendship and teamwork make director and co-writer Cal Brunker’s sequel to the 2014 original acceptable for a wide swath of age groups. But the outsized special effects, seen from the small creatures’ perspective, together with the many menacing situations to which the plot gives rise, may be too scary for little kids. Cartoon violence, including explosions, recurring peril, mild gross-out and scatological jokes. A-II; PG  

All Saints  

Sony  

Low-key, fact-based story of a dwindling Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, and the pastor (John Corbett) assigned by the local bishop (Gregory Alan Williams) to shut it down and sell off its property. Partly due to the revitalizing influence of an influx of devoutly Anglican refugees from Southeast Asia (led by Nelson Lee), the clergyman sees unexpected hope for his congregation and launches a scheme to preserve the community, and help the newcomers, by transforming the fields around the church into a profitable farm. His plan draws the support of his dedicated wife (Cara Buono) but the steady opposition of an ornery veteran parishioner (Barry Corbin). Director Steve Gomer’s wholesome drama celebrates Christian faith and family life. So believers may be willing to overlook its sluggish pace and often awkward tone. Mature themes, including references to atrocities and rape, a marital bedroom scene. A-II; PG  

Good Time  

A24 

When their attempt to rob a bank goes awry, a petty criminal (Robert Pattinson) evades capture, but his mentally challenged brother (Benny Safdie) ends up in custody. Desperate to free his vulnerable sibling, the hood embarks on a nocturnal odyssey through the underworld of New York City during which he tries to get his emotionally unstable girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to loan him bail money, then takes refuge in the home of a Haitian immigrant (Gladys Mathon) and her teenage granddaughter (Taliah Webster) before joining forces with a recent parolee (Buddy Duress) in a scheme to make a quick windfall by selling a cache of liquid LSD. Co-directed by Safdie and his brother Josh (who co-wrote the script with Ronald Bronstein), this intense crime drama presents a subtly shaded portrait of its protagonist, aided by an outstanding performance from Pattinson. But the film conducts viewers on a journey through a bleak urban landscape entertainment oriented moviegoers may not care to visit. Much non-lethal violence, including bloody beatings, brief graphic casual sex and an underage bedroom encounter, drug use, several instances of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language. L; R  

Leap!  

Weinstein  

Directed with brio by Eric Summer and Eric Warin, this charming animated film, set in 1880s France, centers on two best friends (voices of Elle Fanning and Nat Wolff) who escape from an orphanage (its predictably stern mother superior voiced by Kate McKinnon) to pursue their dreams in Paris. He plans to be a famous inventor, while she longs to be a dancer. A cleaning woman at the City of Light’s opera house (voice of Carly Rae Jepsen) who was once a prima ballerina until sidelined by injury takes pity on the lass and agrees to train her. A couple of rude jokes do not seriously detract from visually stunning imagery and a winning story about friendship, perseverance and helping others in need. Brief scatological humor, a less than flattering representation of women religious. A-II; PG  

USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classifications: 

A-I – General patronage  

A-II – Adults and adolescents  

A-III – Adults  

A-IV – Adults, with reservations  

L – Limited adult audience  

O – Morally offensive  

Motion Picture Association of America ratings:  

G – General audiences; all ages admitted  

PG – Parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children  

PG-13 – Parents are strongly cautioned to give special guidance for attendance of children under 13; some material may be inappropriate for young children  

R – Restricted; under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian  

NC-17 – No one under 17 admitted 

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