Movie Reviews

Posted April 27, 2018 at 12:00 am

Sherlock Gnomes  

Paramount  

Busy but flat animated adventure in which the hero (voice of James McAvoy) and heroine (voice of Emily Blunt) of 2011’s “Gnomeo and Juliet” team with the detective of the title (voice of Johnny Depp) and his sidekick, Dr. Watson (voice of Chiwetel Ejiofor), to stop a spate of garden gnome kidnappings taking place across London that they suspect may be the work of the sleuth’s arch-nemesis, Moriarty (voice of Jamie Demetriou). Easily satisfied kids may be willing to accept the rudimentary plot and unfocused proceedings on display in director John Stevenson’s film. But, despite a positive lesson about not taking friends or loved ones for granted, most others will be unimpressed. Scenes of peril, some mild scatological and anatomical humor. A-I; PG  

Acrimony  

Lionsgate  

Lurid drama about an apparently longsuffering wife (Ajiona Alexus in youth, Taraji P. Henson in maturity) whose ne’er-do-well inventor husband (first Antonio Madison, later Lyriq Bent) runs through the sizable inheritance she received from her mother, then endangers the family home she was also allotted in Mom’s will. But the end of her patience and a change in his fortunes coincide in a way that unleashes her usually suppressed yet extreme mean streak, sending her on a vengeful rampage. Writer-director Tyler Perry pulls out all the stops in an initially wild, ultimately over-the-top tale that plays on the divide between perception and reality but emphasizes passion-driven spectacle over insight or believability. The treatment of sexuality is as unbridled </span id=”5″>as all the other aspects of his film. Scenes of gory violence, strong sexual content, including brief graphic nonmarital activity and rear nudity, a divorce theme, frequent mild oaths, numerous rough terms, pervasive crude and crass language. L; R  

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness  

Pure Flix  

Problems beset an earnest pastor (David A.R. White) as the state university on the campus of which his church stands (led, among others, by Ted McGinley) invokes eminent domain to force his congregation to move and the ensuing controversy causes a riled-up student (Mike C. Manning) to commit an act of vandalism on the sanctuary that has unintended but disastrous consequences. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the foremost themes in writer-director Michael Mason’s drama, the second sequel to 2014’s “God’s Not Dead,” which sees the clergyman reaching out to his estranged brother (John Corbett), a lawyer, for representation in his court battle. A less strident tone and a timely message about intemperate political and cultural discourse may recommend this follow-up to at least some viewers outside its built-in audience, though a momentary treatment of divorce in the dialogue requires discernment on the part of Catholic moviegoers. Brief violence with slight gore. A-II; PG  

The Miracle Season  

Mirror  

Directed by Sean McNamara, this fact-based sports drama follows the Iowa City West High School girls’ volleyball team after they lose their captain and star player (Danika Yarosh) to a moped accident. Thrown into near-paralysis by grief, under the wise direction of its coach (Helen Hunt), the ensemble pulls together thanks to the encouragement of the deceased player’s father (William Hurt) and the leadership of her best friend (Erin Moriarty). Though screenwriters David Aaron Cohen and Elissa Matsueda delay the film’s positive twist too long to keep the audience engaged, and largely sideline their characters’ religious beliefs, in the end this salute offers uplifting entertainment suitable for a broad audience. One instance of innuendo. A-II; PG  

A Quiet Place  

Paramount  

This compact, stylish horror film might be a parable about resisting tyranny. Taken strictly on its surface, it’s a story about how strong, trusting family ties can overcome any obstacle, especially if the members of the clan in question (led by John Krasinski, who also directed and co-wrote the screenplay) are as technically adept as TV’s MacGyver. Krasinski’s character, his wife (Emily Blunt) and two surviving children (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe) initially evade and eventually battle the invading aliens, armed with incredibly acute hearing, who killed his youngest. Gun and physical violence with fleeting gore, the death of a youngster, a scene of childbirth. A-III; PG-13  

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare 

Universal  

Rather than chilling viewers, director and co-writer Jeff Wadlow’s thriller merely succeeds in endangering its cast via a supernatural version of the titular game from which there is no apparent escape. While visiting Mexico for spring break, a group of friends (most prominently Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey and Violett Beane) becomes trapped in the pastime after playing it inside an abandoned and accursed mission church. The stranger (Landon Liboiron) who led them there explains the rules, and the fact that the only way for him to stay alive was to expand the circle of players, before making his escape. Back home, fatalities follow as do relationship-altering revelations. But these have little impact on the audience since the imperiled band of college students are, one and all, mere types. Given that the backstory involves a priest molesting young nuns and that one of the dares sends two of the characters to bed together, only grown-ups should subject themselves to this mediocre piece of moviemaking. Much harsh violence with some gore, semi-graphic nonmarital sexual activity, shadowy rear nudity, a homosexuality theme, a couple of same-sex kisses, considerable crude and crass language. A-III; PG- 13

Chappaquiddick  

Entertainment Studios 

Somber but intriguing fact-based drama about the infamous 1969 car accident on the New England island of the title involving Sen. Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy (Jason Clarke) and Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), a former staffer for Kennedy’s assassinated brother Robert, who died in the mishap. The legislator’s bizarrely irresponsible behavior in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy is portrayed rather than explained by screenwriters Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen and director John Curran. But Clarke conveys with a quiet intensity the conflicted emotions and sense of isolation his character may have been experiencing as well as the toll his torturous relationship with his impossible-to-satisfy father, Joseph (Bruce Dern), may have exacted on him. Kennedy cousin and family fixer Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) provides the film’s moral compass while former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (Clancy Brown) wears the black hat, leading a troupe of spin doctors who encourage Teddy to play fast and loose with the facts. Mature themes, a few profanities, about a half-dozen milder oaths, a couple of rough and several crude terms. A-III; PG-13  

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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