Movie Reviews

Movie Reviews

Huge Ackman

The Greatest Showman

B- | PG | December 20, 2017
By the time I saw "The Greatest Showman," my 13-year-old niece had seen it four times. She's not interested in P.T. Barnum as a historical figure (she and the movie have that in common), but she does like cheesy pop music and boys with soft eyes, so ...

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

A- | PG-13 | December 15, 2017
There was a comforting sense of deja vu in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which kicked off a new trilogy by mimicking the plot structure of the original film. Don't worry about falling into a rut, though. The next chapter, "The Last Jedi" -- Episode...


C | PG | December 15, 2017
"Ferdinand" is a colorful animated comedy about bullfighting, from the point of view of the bulls. You must see the problem almost immediately: cartoons are for kids, but bullfighting is a cruel, barbaric sport in which animals are tortured and kille...

I, Tonya

B+ | R | December 8, 2017
This is the story of "I, Tonya," not I, Eric, but let me begin with a relevant personal detail. When the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan brouhaha was dominating news coverage in early 1994, I was an LDS missionary, quarantined from current events. (I mi...

The Shape of Water

A- | R | December 1, 2017
Like many fairy tales, "The Shape of Water" is a fantastical story about a lonely person who finds fulfillment through interaction with a magical creature. Unlike most fairy tales, "The Shape of Water" lets its sex, violence, and cruelty fall out cas...

The Disaster Artist

B+ | R | December 1, 2017
"The Room" (not to be confused with "Room," about the kidnapped woman and her son) is a thoroughly incompetent melodrama from 2003 that won the pop-culture lottery by becoming a cult favorite. Dozens, if not hundreds, of movies this bad are made ever...
Call Me by Your Name – Still 2

Call Me by Your Name

A- | R | November 24, 2017
"Call Me by Your Name," a gay coming-of-age romance set at an Italian villa in the summertime (the best possible location for such a story), isn't sexual so much as hormonal. It's not about doin' it; it's about wanting to do it, about discovering wha...

The Man Who Invented Christmas

B | PG | November 22, 2017
"Invented" is a rather melodramatic overstatement, but "The Man Who Invented Christmas" is an affable and gentle holiday biopic, perfect for a matinee with visiting relatives who need something to shut them up for a couple hours. The man in questi...


B+ | PG | November 22, 2017
There are plenty of cartoons about holidays like Christmas and Halloween, but the genius-nerds at Pixar saw an unfilled need and came up with "Coco," the first major animated film about Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, observed in Mexico and by Me...

Darkest Hour

B+ | PG-13 | November 22, 2017
"Darkest Hour" is about a controversial leader's steadfast refusal to engage in peace talks in favor of going to war. Not the sort of message you'd expect people to support these days -- but I should mention that the leader is Winston Churchill and t...

Justice League

C+ | PG-13 | November 17, 2017
Superman is dead. He was killed by a monster (not Batman) at the end of "Batman v Superman" and is still dead when "Justice League" picks up the story some time later. The titular coalition of superheroes doesn't exist yet, but Bruce Wayne (Ben Affle...

The Star

B- | PG | November 17, 2017
You thought you knew the story of the first Christmas -- BUT YOU WERE WRONG! As explained by "The Star," a timidly respectful animated story aimed at Christian families, an adventure-seeking donkey actually played a much larger role than the Gospels ...


B | PG | November 17, 2017
"What's the deal with your face?" That's what the jerky fifth-grader, Julian (Bryce Gheisar), asks the new boy with the birth defect, Auggie (Jacob Tremblay), at the beginning of "Wonder," an unabashedly affirmational dramedy directed by Stephen Chbo...

Thelma (Norwegian)

B | Not-Rated | November 10, 2017
"Thelma," a reserved but piercing supernatural coming-of-age drama from director Joachim Trier ("Oslo, August 31st"), begins with a young girl hunting a deer with her father in the snow. Her eyes fixed on the oblivious animal, the girl doesn’t see th...

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

A- | R | November 10, 2017
Martin McDonagh, who was born and raised in London but has Irish parents and dual citizenship, examined the squalid, petty lives of his countrymen in several caustically funny stage plays before turning to movies: "In Bruges" dealt with hitmen and re...

Murder on the Orient Express

C+ | PG-13 | November 10, 2017
In 1934, when Agatha Christie published "Murder on the Orient Express," trains were still a popular means of transportation, and Asia was still called "the Orient." Much has changed in the last 83 years -- for example, in her entire life Agatha Chris...

Lady Bird

A- | R | November 3, 2017
Greta Gerwig, the pixie-like pillar of indie film and an indomitable screen presence, recently starred in and co-wrote "Frances Ha" and "Mistress America" with her boyfriend, Noah Baumbach, who directed them. But for her latest effort, the outstandin...

Thor: Ragnarok

B | PG-13 | November 3, 2017
The mighty Norse god Thor, as played by Chris Hemsworth, is a fun presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe®, but his last stand-alone film ("Thor: The Dark World") was the worst of the franchise. The latest, "Thor: Ragnarok," regains its sense of hu...
A Bad Moms Christmas

A Bad Moms Christmas

D | R | November 1, 2017
Is it Terrible Christmas Movie season already? Seems like Terrible Halloween Movie season just ended. The first of this year's miserable entries is "A Bad Moms Christmas," a grim followup to last year's modestly amusing "moms gone wild" raunch-com th...


B- | R | October 27, 2017
George Clooney, like most powerful creative types, needs to be told "no" more often. He and regular writing/producing partner Grant Heslov were developing a story about a black family moving into an all-white suburb in the 1950s when Clooney remember...

All I See Is You

C | R | October 27, 2017
"What is this movie about?" That's what I jotted around the halfway point -- awfully late for the question to still be necessary -- of "All I See Is You," a foggy psychosexual drama from director Marc Forster ("Finding Neverland," "The Kite Runner") ...


B | R | October 27, 2017
"Novitiate," set in the midst of the Catholic Church's 1964 "Vatican II" reforms, begins with 17-year-old Cathleen (Margaret Qualley) entering a convent and telling us in narration: "Under everything else, we were women in love." She means in love...


B- | R | October 27, 2017
We doubted that "Saw 3D," the seventh and "final" chapter in the gruesome franchise, would be the last one (that it was the seventh we did not dispute), and our cynicism has paid off (again). Part eight, "Jigsaw" -- now it's named after the villain i...

God’s Own Country

B+ | Not-Rated | October 25, 2017
"God's Own Country" begins with a smooth-chested, naive-looking young Yorkshire man vomiting all night, then arising early to give a pregnant cow a gynecological fisting. Do not be alarmed; these actions make perfect sense. The fellow, Johnny Saxby (...

The Snowman

D | R | October 20, 2017
Days before "The Snowman" was released, director Tomas Alfredson said in an interview that 10-15% of the screenplay was never filmed, leaving gaps in the story that had to be covered in the editing. As far as I'm concerned, that should be published i...

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

B+ | R | October 20, 2017
If you’ve seen Yorgos Lanthimos’ other films, like "Dogtooth" or "The Lobster,"** you enter "The Killing of a Sacred Deer" braced for uncomfortable hilarity with touches of deadpan violence. In that respect, Lanthimos does not disappoint. In other re...


A- | PG | October 20, 2017
A theme running through most of Todd Haynes' films ("Velvet Goldmine," "Far from Heaven," "Carol") is one of breaking loose from convention to be true to oneself. Often this breaking-loose has to do with sexuality, but the wonderful "Wonderstruck," b...
happy death day

Happy Death Day

B- | PG-13 | October 13, 2017
Among the numerous indignities for which 2017 will be long remembered is the fact that it produced not one but two PG-13 "Groundhog Day" riffs about bratty young women reliving the day on which they are killed. The first, "Before I Fall," was drenche...

The Foreigner

B | R | October 13, 2017
Jackie Chan plays the person that the title "The Foreigner" refers to, though nobody ever calls him that. They tend to call him "Chinaman," as in, "That bloody Chinaman!" Halfway through I thought: I bet this movie was originally called "The Chinaman...

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

B+ | R | October 13, 2017
"Wonder Woman's" fresh take on the superhero-origins movie was a welcome addition to a stagnant genre. Now here's "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women," the story of how the character was created -- a superhero-origins-origins movie -- subverting ...


B | PG-13 | October 13, 2017
You'd be forgiven for assuming that "Marshall" is a biopic of Thurgood Marshall, the first black United States Supreme Court justice. After all, it's called "Marshall," and a main character is Thurgood Marshall. But rather than tell the man's life st...
The Florida Project

The Florida Project

B+ | R | October 6, 2017
I can think of quite a few projects for the state of Florida to work on if they're taking suggestions, but the wonderfully humane, heartbreakingly kind film called "The Florida Project" takes an unexpected route. Writer-director Sean Baker, whose "Ta...

Blade Runner 2049

C+ | R | October 6, 2017
Having missed it as a child and then being unsure which version I was supposed to watch, I never saw Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" until the "final cut" was released in 2007. And I saw that one twice, because the first time didn't take. I failed to l...

Better Watch Out

B- | R | October 6, 2017
It suffers a bit in the execution, but conceptually, "Better Watch Out" (originally titled "Safe Neighborhood") is the best twist on the "home invasion" thriller that the sub-genre has seen in a while, a consistently surprising story with more than o...

American Made

B | R | September 29, 2017
"All of this is legal?" asks airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) in "American Made" when CIA agent Schafer (Domhnall Gleeson) recruits him to fly secret surveillance missions in Central America. "If you're doing it for the good guys, yeah," replies...
Power Rangers!

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

C | PG | September 22, 2017
Whoever had "three" in the "How many LEGO movies will it take before the brand feels stale and uninspired?" pool, step up and claim your prize! (Your prize is that you do not have to watch any more of these.) "The LEGO Ninjago Movie," an extension of...

Battle of the Sexes

B+ | PG-13 | September 22, 2017
The nice thing about history is that if we've learned from it, and if enough time has passed, we can also laugh at it. Look how foolish we were then! "Battle of the Sexes," a highly entertaining account of the 1973 tennis match between self-described...


A- | R | September 22, 2017
"Stronger" isn't the first film about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, but it is the first to earn its emotions legitimately, and the first that's not an insult to the victims. Directed by the diversely talented David Gordon Green, who's made everyt...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

C | R | September 22, 2017
"That movie seemed very pleased with itself." That was a non-critic friend's assessment of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" immediately after the screening, and it's such an apt description that I have stolen it without attribution. Whatever you thou...

Brad’s Status

B | R | September 15, 2017
"Brad's Status," built around an interior monologue and reflections on the past, might have worked better as a novel, though it would have been a slight one. More of a novella, probably. Instead, Mike White wrote and directed it for the screen, where...


A- | R | September 15, 2017
It's immediately clear that "mother!" is not to be taken literally, as it starts with a reverse time-lapse of a rotting corpse in a bed forming back into a sleeping Jennifer Lawrence. That sort of thing doesn't happen literally, not where I come from...

Home Again

C+ | PG-13 | September 8, 2017
Hallie Meyers-Shyer is the daughter of Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, whose marital collaborations also included the films "Irreconcilable Differences," "Baby Boom," "Father of the Bride," and "I Love Trouble." Ms. Meyers-Shyer's debut as a writer-d...
It_09162016_Day 57_16230.dng


B- | R | September 8, 2017
"It" is very long for a horror movie (135 minutes), yet covers only half of the Stephen King novel it's based on, yet is full of half-mentioned details that seem to have been crammed in hurriedly. I guess it's fitting that a nostalgic tale set in a c...

Birth of the Dragon

C- | PG-13 | August 25, 2017
In 1964, the not-yet-legendary Bruce Lee had a fight with Wong Jack Man, a Shaolin master who'd recently arrived in the Bay Area from China. The details of the match, including who won it, remain controversial (it happened in private, with few witnes...

Logan Lucky

B+ | PG-13 | August 18, 2017
Steven Soderbergh tried to retire a few years ago, but it didn't take. Perhaps he can relate to Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum), the lovable West Virginian ne'er-do-well at the center of "Logan Lucky" who tries to make an honest living but keeps coming ...

Crown Heights

B | R | August 18, 2017
We've seen a lot of films like "Crown Heights" lately -- true stories about black people getting screwed over by police and the justice system. The surge is a testament to the increased awareness of these issues, and a reflection of the sad fact that...

Patti Cake$

B- | R | August 18, 2017
The title character in "Patti Cake$," one Patricia Dombrowski (Danielle Macdonald), is a portly white New Jersey girl who aspires to be a rapper. She's quite good at it, spitting rhymes as intricate and vulgar as anyone's; she just needs her big chan...

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

C+ | R | August 18, 2017
The poster for "The Hitman's Bodyguard" parodies the Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner "The Bodyguard," with Ryan Reynolds lovingly carrying Samuel L. Jackson to safety. It's a terrific spoof, and it hints at the comedy potential in the premise of an ass...

Good Time

B | R | August 11, 2017
The first character we meet in "Good Time" is Nick Nikas (co-director Benny Safdie), a unibrowed schlub with unspecified mental challenges that render him simple and compliant. Nick is with a kindly therapist, who draws tender emotions from him befor...

Ingrid Goes West

B+ | R | August 11, 2017
In "Ingrid Goes West," a cautionary comedy about social-media fame, Aubrey Plaza ("Parks and Recreation") plays an unstable woman fresh out of the mental ward who heads to California to stalk and befriend a minor Instagram celebrity, Taylor Sloane (E...

Annabelle: Creation

C+ | R | August 11, 2017
"Annabelle: Creation" is a prequel to "Annabelle," which was a spinoff of "The Conjuring," which was about the work of a pair of real-life paranormal investigators who really did once have a case involving a creepy doll. Now, at last, we can learn wh...

Wind River

B+ | R | August 4, 2017
A handful of innocent sheep are stalked by a coyote at the beginning of "Wind River," an intense, somber mystery-thriller set on the Wyoming Indian reservation of that name. But the coyote is soon dispatched by a greater predator, or at least a bette...

The Dark Tower

C | PG-13 | August 4, 2017
"The Dark Tower" is a bland, benign mediocrity that's probably significantly worse if you've read the Stephen King novels it's based on. As a non-reader (of those; I've read other books), I don't know what level of violence has been done to the sourc...

Step (documentary)

B+ | PG | August 4, 2017
"Step" is ostensibly a documentary about an inner-city high school's step-dancing team, but this crowdpleaser is more focused on the students' academic pursuits and struggle to break the poverty cycle. Issues related to race, class, and gender are li...


C+ | R | July 28, 2017
"Detroit" is about one of the more unpleasant things to have happened in a city where so many unpleasant things have happened that you can elicit a feeling of despair just by naming your movie after it. ("Wanna go see 'Detroit'?" "No, that sounds dep...

The Emoji Movie

F | PG | July 28, 2017
Hating "The Emoji Movie" is easy, not to mention fun, necessary, and appropriate. It's like Trump. Though it represents humanity's worst tendencies (laziness, vulgarity, cynicism) and we groan under the indignities suffered at its cartoonish hands, t...
Atomic Blonde (2017)

Atomic Blonde

B+ | R | July 28, 2017
To the extent that there are James Bonds in the real world -- dashing, highly skilled secret agents who can kill enemies with a rolled-up newspaper -- surely by now there are also Jane Bonds. Yet Hollywood has offered few lady spies worthy of the com...

Girls Trip

B- | R | July 21, 2017
The raunchy, heartfelt "Girls Trip" takes the "Hangover"/"Bridesmaids" formula -- four college friends, now in their early 40s, reunite in New Orleans to get their individual and collective grooves back -- and gives it some black flavor. Directed by ...

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

B- | PG-13 | July 21, 2017
It was while making "The Fifth Element" that vibrant French madman Luc Besson realized his real calling was to adapt the futuristic "Valerian and Laureline" comic book he'd read as a child, but it took another 20 years for technology to catch up to h...


B+ | PG-13 | July 21, 2017
With "Dunkirk," writer-director Christopher Nolan, most famous for his Batman trilogy but even better at mind-benders like "Memento" and "Inception," applies his cerebral skillset to another familiar genre: the World War II movie. Rather than turn th...

Wish Upon

C | PG-13 | July 14, 2017
"Wish Upon" is a dumb, silly teen-horror flick about an entitled brat who enters into a monkey's paw situation with a wish-granting music box, leading to consequences that only a sensible person who gave it a moment's thought could have foreseen. But...

War for the Planet of the Apes

B+ | PG-13 | July 14, 2017
There isn't much battle action in "War for the Planet of the Apes," but it still feels like a war movie -- a World War II movie, specifically, set largely in a wintry prison camp, with some captives collaborating with the enemy in the vain hope of po...

A Ghost Story

B+ | R | July 7, 2017
"A Ghost Story" is indeed a story about a ghost, but that's where the similarities between it and, say, "Poltergeist" stop. Written and directed by the contemplative David Lowery ("Ain't Them Bodies Saints," "Pete's Dragon"), this is more of a melanc...
Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spider-Man: Homecoming

B+ | PG-13 | July 7, 2017
Some superhero movies have subtitles referring to the dramatic events or villains featured therein: "Apocalypse," "The Age of Ultron," "Civil War," "The Last Stand." Then there's "Spider-Man: Homecoming," which refers to a dance at Peter Parker's hig...
The House

The House

C+ | R | June 30, 2017
When I tell you that a film with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler isn't very good, keep in mind that I find them both very, very funny and am predisposed to liking pretty much anything they do. So if I'm sorta down on "The House," you have to figure that...
Despicable Me 3

Despicable Me 3

C | PG | June 30, 2017
With "Despicable Me 3," I finally put my finger on what it is about these movies that keeps them from working. The premise, as you and your children know, is that a super-villain named Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) adopted three orphan girls, got dome...
Baby Driver

Baby Driver

B+ | R | June 28, 2017
Admittedly, "Baby Driver" employs a gimmick. Written and directed by the impossibly clever Edgar Wright ("Hot Fuzz," "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"), the film's main character is a getaway driver who times his crew's bank robberies to be in sync with ...

The Big Sick

B+ | R | June 23, 2017
There's a lot happening in "The Big Sick," an autobiographical romantic comedy by Kumail Nanjiani ("Silicon Valley") and Emily V. Gordon about the early days of their relationship. It's a rom-com, complete with the trope where one party lies to the o...

The Beguiled

B | R | June 23, 2017
Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" is a remake of one of the two films directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood that were released in 1971 -- the other was "Dirty Harry" -- but Coppola makes it her own by giving it the female perspective it nee...

Transformers: The Last Knight

D | PG-13 | June 21, 2017
Much of what you hear about "Transformers: The Last Knight" makes it sound more watchable than it is. Stanley Tucci hamming it up as Merlin the wizard? Marky Mark employing a small robot pterodactyl to bring him bottles of Bud Light®? A World War II ...


B | PG-13 | June 16, 2017
Folk-art buffs and extremely patriotic Canadians may already know the story of Maud Lewis, an arthritic Nova Scotian who sold her simple but charming paintings out of the tiny house she shared with her fishmonger husband in the middle decades of the ...

Rough Night

D | R | June 16, 2017
"Rough Night" comes from two of the writers and directors of Comedy Central's very funny "Broad City," Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, and features one of its stars, Ilana Glazer. The dark, zealously silly plot -- five bachelorette-partiers accident...

The Book of Henry

D | PG-13 | June 16, 2017
"The Book of Henry" is such a mushy, misguided disaster that even its irrelevant subplots are inexplicable. The baffling wrong-headedness permeates every scene in such a way that you'd swear it was done on purpose. Directed with Hallmark-movie sup...
Cars 3

Cars 3

C- | G | June 16, 2017
Pixar's first bad movie, "Cars 2," erred in making Mater the tow truck the main character and in emphasizing a tired espionage caper over jokes. Pixar's second bad movie, "Cars 3," fixes those mistakes and replaces them with different ones. This time...
The Mummy

The Mummy

C- | PG-13 | June 9, 2017
The primary objective of "The Mummy," Universal's latest reboot of its 85-year-old horror property, is to establish an Avengers-style "shared universe" with the other monsters the studio owns. The secondary objective seems to be an experiment: will a...
It Comes at Night

It Comes at Night

B+ | R | June 9, 2017
"It Comes at Night" opens on the lesioned face of a dying old man surrounded by tearful loved ones wearing gloves and gas masks. He has a fatal and highly contagious disease that has decimated the population. He's euthanized by the end of the next sc...
My Cousin Rachel

My Cousin Rachel

B | PG-13 | June 9, 2017
"My Cousin Rachel" stars Rachel Weisz in the part she was born to play: a person named Rachel! Based on Daphne du Maurier's 1951 novel, it's a gothic romantic mystery set on an English estate around the turn of the last century. It involves beautiful...
Band Aid

Band Aid

B+ | Not-Rated | June 2, 2017
"What if we turned all our fights into songs?" That's the idea hatched by a creatively and maritally frustrated L.A. couple in "Band Aid," a very funny -- and then deeply emotional -- comedy written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones (from TV's "Life i...

Wonder Woman

B+ | PG-13 | June 2, 2017
You don't want to read too much into these things, but after DC Comics' bleak creative stumbles in establishing a shared movie world -- the so-so "Man of Steel," the bad "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," and the awful "Suicide Squad" -- it turns ...
Prates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

C- | PG-13 | May 26, 2017
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" is the fifth chapter in the apparently immortal franchise, and like most of us, it pretends part four ("On Stranger Tides") never happened. But that isn't enough to pull the series out of its tailspi...


D | R | May 25, 2017
The movie version of "Baywatch" is similar to the ubiquitous '90s TV show it's based on, in that both are not very funny. The problem, of course, is that the TV show wasn't supposed to be. The movie, carelessly directed by Seth Gordon ("Horrible Boss...

Alien: Covenant

C | R | May 19, 2017
To watch the "Alien" prequels -- "Prometheus" (2012) and now "Alien: Covenant" -- is to marvel at the changes in astronaut-hiring practices that must have been implemented between the earlier chapters and the later ones. The characters in Ridley Scot...

Everything, Everything

C+ | PG-13 | May 19, 2017
If you don't know anything, anything about "Everything, Everything," it's based on a novel for young adults by Nicola Yoon. As a female-written YA novel, it must involve either a post-apocalyptic dystopia (preferably part of a trilogy) or a doomed ro...

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

D+ | PG | May 19, 2017
Having seen two of the four "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movies and disliked them both to a great degree, I have diagnosed their problem: they are live-action movies about human beings in the real world when they should be cartoons about talking animals wh...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

B | PG-13 | May 12, 2017
English dude-bro Guy Ritchie, having made his mark on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, turns his attention now to a famous Brit who probably actually existed. "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," which Ritchie co-wrote with Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram, a...


B | R | May 12, 2017
Why aren't there more zany comedies about blond women being kidnapped by human traffickers while vacationing in South America? Seems like a goldmine. Anyway, "Snatched" is here to remedy that lack, to provide Amy Schumer with a follow-up to her break...

The Lovers

B+ | R | May 5, 2017
Don't let the comparison oversell it, but "The Lovers" is like a Shakespearean comedy soaked in mid-career Woody Allen: urbane, well-acted, and slightly problematic. A sunny farce, albeit one with three-dimensional characters, it tells a story that e...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

B- | PG-13 | May 5, 2017
In this week's episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, entitled "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," the ragtag group of space-rogues led by self-described "Star-Lord" Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) meets a new friend: Peter's father, played by Special Gue...


C- | R | April 21, 2017
Giving a formulaic thriller a title like "Unforgettable" is an act of wishful thinking, but as middlebrow trash goes, this latest entry in the "psycho ex from hell" sub-genre isn't bad. Or maybe it's more accurate to say it's no worse than it's suppo...

The Promise

B- | PG-13 | April 21, 2017
Stipulated: The Armenian genocide, in which some 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman government (we call it Turkey now) between 1915 and 1922, is underrepresented in history books and in popular culture. Among 20th-century holocausts, ...

The Fate of the Furious

C | PG-13 | April 14, 2017
The most prominent theme in the "Fast and the Furious" movies isn't family (they didn't come up with that until a few sequels in) but conciliation. Enemies who aren't killed often become friends in the next chapter, their former misdeeds evidently fo...

Going in Style

D+ | PG-13 | April 7, 2017
What kind of lazy, lowest-common-denominator movie is "Going in Style"? The kind where the one F-word in the script is delivered gratuitously by an old lady who has no other lines, and it's supposed to be hilarious because she's an old lady. An old l...

Smurfs: The Lost Village

C- | PG | April 7, 2017
The lesson learned at the end of "Smurfs: The Lost Village" is that Smurfette can be anything she wants to be -- a great message for girls! -- while the boy Smurfs will continue to be defined strictly by their one dominant personality trait, which th...


B- | PG-13 | April 7, 2017
"Gifted" is a simple, pleasant drama that engages the emotions without manhandling them. It depicts a child-custody battle yet avoids cheap melodrama and doesn't paint anyone as a villain. It has the glistening falseness of a Nicholas Sparks weepy th...

The Boss Baby

B | PG | March 31, 2017
"The Boss Baby," starring Alec Baldwin as the voice of a suit-wearing infant sent to an unsuspecting family to fulfill a secret mission on behalf of BabyCorp -- that's the heaven-based company in charge of the world's babies, which are treated like a...

The Zookeeper’s Wife

C | PG-13 | March 31, 2017
One silver lining to the current political situation is that at least in a few years we'll have some new stories to tell about fighting Nazis. Without diminishing the importance of remembering the Holocaust, I respectfully submit that the films on th...

Ghost in the Shell

C+ | PG-13 | March 31, 2017
Futuristic cyber-thriller "Ghost in the Shell" is loaded with advanced technology, but it's in the service of a disappointingly basic plot with few surprises. Add to that the bafflingly tone-deaf treatment of racial and cultural issues and you've rea...


B | R | March 24, 2017
Scientists talk of distant planets that could almost, but not quite, sustain life, lacking some small but essential condition. "Life" (the movie, not the cereal) is a bit like that, an effective sci-fi thriller that would be truly outstanding if it h...

Power Rangers

C | PG-13 | March 24, 2017
"Power Rangers" is the "Batman Begins" of its franchise, the gritty reboot that tells our heroes' improbably lengthy and self-serious origin story and introduces them to a whole new generation (by which I mean the same generation as before, only 20 y...


B- | R | March 24, 2017
There's a really funny R-rated buddy-cop movie starring Michael Peña as a reckless law-enforcement officer. It's called "War on Everyone," and it co-stars Alexander Skarsgard. You should see it! There's also "CHIPS," a significantly less funny tho...