This week's biggest releases are engineered to make you cry
New in Theaters
Pixar, making parents ugly cry while sitting next to obliviously entertained children since 1995.
"The Way Back"
Ben Affleck, recently divorced and in recovery for alcoholism, plays a recently divorced basketball coach struggling with alcohol issues in a movie that has turned his current press tour into series of discomforting therapy sessions.
The single-take construction makes for moments of earned tension and narrow escape that are meant to get the heart pounding. But telling this story in real time has some real downsides. The emotional connection with our lead characters is never fully built, and the larger scope of the conflict gets lost. (3 stars)
"Bad Boys for Life"
The film arrives 17 years after “Bad Boys II,” and Michael Bay isn’t behind the director’s chair for the first time in the series, but you would hardly notice. Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah pump the screen full of the same level of inane action. Smith and Martin Lawrence are so naturally funny, it only sometimes matters how bad the jokes are. (2 stars)
There are moments when the drama really hits on an authentic story, touching on the challenges of marriage and parenthood. And while it’s nowhere close to a laugh riot, there are moments of solid comedic delivery. But the challenge here is seldom fully overcome, and “Downhill” suffers greatly from shifting tones.
It’s not really fair to expect the makers of “Frozen” to capture lightning in a bottle twice, nor are many of the kiddos helping to sell out theaters going to be disappointed in the least with “Frozen 2.” But an overcomplicated story proves that more isn’t necessarily better. If you’re expecting this sequel to be on the same level you need to let it go, let it gooooo! (2 stars)
“The Gentlemen,” with its solid cast, is director Guy Ritchie's return to the criminal underbelly, and, as far as January films go, it's pretty entertaining. (3 stars)
"The Invisible Man"
There’s a lot to like about the new remake of “The Invisible Man,” and there’s a lot that’s almost laugh-out-loud silly. The funny part? It all comes together for me and my love of both horror and bad Lifetime thrillers. If you like both of these, this is a must-see. Of course, it’s elevated by a lead performance from Elisabeth Moss that certainly rises above movie-of-the-week level. (3 stars)
The most intriguing thing about “Olympic Dreams” is that it exists. It’s a super-low-budget guerrilla work of true indie filmmaking, shot at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, that doesn’t quite rise above the stunt nature of its creation.
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"
Chin up, because in the end you’ll know that one of us, Johnson, made the best “Star Wars” movie of all time, and another one of us, Abrams, navigated the backlash that we created to land the last “Star Wars” trilogy in a way that eases these pains, even if it sometimes goes too far in its fan service. (4 stars)