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Movie Reviews
'Finding Dory': It'll Find You
Watching "Finding Dory," the sequel to the 2003 megahit "Finding Nemo," it occurs that perhaps even children of John Birchers and Ku Klux Klan members exposed to the high-minded sentiments of this sugary tutorial in liberalism will leave the theater a bit more tolerant. However, while colorful, intelligent and starring the witty articulations of Ellen DeGeneres as the winsome title fish, Andrew Stanton and Angus Maclane's undersea metaphor could have better tickled its target audience's...

'Maggie's Plan': Has a Comic Twist
Because it is very New York, sophisticated, intelligent, witty, provocative and well written, I think Woody Allen would like director Rebecca Miller's "Maggie's Plan," just in case he's reading. It is of course about love among the scholarly and introspective, the whys and wherefores therein, with a smart meditation on that emotion as life's essentially indefinable motivator. Though Miller, who wrote the screenplay with Karen Rinaldi, doesn't add to anything Shakespeare has already apprised...

'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping': Paradise Lost ... Again
"Oh fame, thy time is fleeting." Either someone once said that or I just made it up. All the same, it adequately nails down the gist of "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping," a satiric mockumentary that hilariously challenges the authenticity of contemporary rock 'n' roll stardom. Written by and starring the troika of Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, it is a copycatting but valid update of the thesis "This is Spinal Tap" (1984) proffered about musical success. That the three...

'Love & Friendship': A Comedy of Manners & Manors
I think it was because I was a sleepy little kid in grammar school who didn't appreciate the advantage of a good education that I didn't fully enjoy writer-director Whit Stillman's "Love & Friendship." I also blame that era, wherein I spent most of my classroom time drawing sketches of cars and baseball stadiums, for not really learning the times table past 8. Only the pocket calculator has saved me from financial ruin.

'The Nice Guys': The Case of the Dueling Detectives
Superb timing on the part of both actors, smartly melded with time-honored cues from the genre their performances astutely explore, quickly ingratiates them to us. Gosling's March is the educated one, a bit polished, a single parent and living with the memory of a tragedy that, by its very nature, can never be fully mitigated. Crowe's Healy, on the other hand, is the rough and tumble sort, proud of his meat-and- potatoes approach and flaunting a rough around the edges demeanor to advertise it....

'The Meddler': Mommy Nosiest
Starring Susan Sarandon as Marnie Minervini, the loving helicopter mom who just can't keep out of her thirty-something daughter's business, it is a sweet cupcake of a movie, drizzled with just enough sour strife to make it satisfyingly real. We all know these characters. Some of them are us, and happy to indulgently play out our anxieties.

'Captain America: Civil War': This Isn't Your Father's Superhero
It wasn't just because "Captain America: Civil War" was unnecessarily convoluted that I grew despondent as I sat through its 147 minutes of confusion. Later I would also be miffed by the lack of clues leading to the surprise conclusion. But I am beside the point. With nary a Smartphone a-texting, the kids around me seemed to love it, totally welcoming the cacophony and esoteric story details. Such is what Father Time wreaks.

'A Hologram for the King': Angst of a Salesman
Director Tom Tykwer's "A Hologram for the King," about a down-on-his-luck American businessman seeking to rectify his life through one big deal in Saudi Arabia, is the sort of film you enjoy while you're watching it, think about a little, and dismiss. The fleeting, two-pronged appeal comes thanks to the everyman charm Tom Hanks imbues in his Alan Clay, a desperate former corporate bigwig, and the inscrutable sociology he runs into whilst attempting to sell the Arab king a holographic...

'Barbershop: The Next Cut': Seriously Styled
The storyline is basic. The Southside is getting worse and worse, the sociocultural casualty of increasing gang violence. Politicians have suggested surrounding it with a wall. Gee, doesn't that sound familiar? Secretly, Calvin harbors thoughts of giving up the fight and relocating to the North Side. However, respect for the neighborhood institution his dad founded, as well as a dedication to his loyal band of cohorts, stirs him to make one last stab at winning back the civility of...

'The Boss': Corners the Funny Business
Somewhat reminiscent of how the great Rodney Dangerfield and other standup artists before him packaged their shtick in feature-length celluloid, the script, while not badly written, is but a vehicle for McCarthy's scattershot criticism of whatever comes to mind.

'Hello, My Name Is Doris': Puts the Sex in Sexagenarian
Doubtless you'll recall from childhood the man or woman in your neighborhood who cast a similar image, someone decidedly afield of the mainstream who scared you just a little, but all the same suggested the plausibility of infinite lifestyles. Well, that's Doris.

'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice': The World is Too Much with Them
Remember when you were little and the kids on the block would argue who was greater, Batman or Superman? The ragamuffins on Dewey Street were evenly divided, pretty much the way they were between the Yankees and the Dodgers. Frankly, it was a no-brainer to me. The Yanks had The Mick, and, while Batman had all sorts of gadgetry, Superman had super powers. I know, I know, there's that Achilles heel thing, the accursed Kryptonite.

'Miracles from Heaven': Friendly Persuasion
I think it was St. Augustine, if I may paraphrase a saint, who stated that one cannot prove God's existence through logic, but rather, only through one's faith. It is in this theological vein, whether consciously referencing the early Christian thinker or not, that director Patricia Riggen weaves her tear-jerking, often compelling "Miracles from Heaven."

'The Brothers Grimsby': Fraternally Filthy
I don't quite know yet if I've been scarred for life by Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Brothers Grimsby," an audacious exercise in bad taste that goes over the top and, like a playground swing gone wild, loops around a few times. It'd be easy to simply say it's tasteless, vulgar garbage that would push the envelope of even the most broadminded viewers and end the review right here.

'Zootopia': It's a Jungle out There
With "Zootopia," a gaggle of doubtlessly well-intentioned writers and directors fail to snare the brass ring of kiddie-flick making, the award accorded to those movies that prove entertaining to children and adults alike.

 
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