Movie Capsules: What's Showing

Capsule descriptions and starred mini-reviews by John Beifuss.

OPENING FRIDAY

I’m So Excited! (R, 90 min.) See review elsewhere on gomemphis.com.

Studio on the Square.

2 Guns (R, 109 min.) Undercover agents Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg anger a drug cartel.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

OPENING WEDNESDAY

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (PG, 106 min.) A second adventure inspired by the fantasy book series by Rick Riordan.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D).

We’re the Millers (R, 110 min.) Pot dealer Jason Sudeikis and stripper Jennifer Aniston form a fake family to elude the Feds.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

SPECIAL MOVIES

Anastasia (Not rated, 76 min.) Meg Ryan provides the voice of a princess while Hank Azaria is comical Bartok the bat and Christopher Lloyd is the evil Rasputin in this special “family matinee” presentation of a cartoon feature inspired by the true story of Russia’s last royal family.

1:30 p.m. Friday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Tickets: $7, or $5 for Indie Memphis members and kids 12 and younger. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Big Easy Express (Not rated, 76 min.) The Indie Memphis “Concert Film Series” continues with this 2012 release that follows Mumford and Sons, the Old Crow Medicine Show and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes as they travel on a restored vintage train from California to New Orleans, on the “Tour of Dreams.”

8:30 p.m. Saturday, Levitt Shell. Admission: free. Visit indiememphis.com or levittshell.org.

The Big Lebowski (Not rated, 117 min.) Memphis-based moviemaker Craig Brewer will introduce this screening of the Coen Brother’s cult comedy classic, starring Jeff Bridges as a laidback, White Russian-imbibing “Dude” who becomes involved in a Raymond Chandleresque mystery. Brewer speaks at 6:30 p.m., before the movie.

7 p.m. Friday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Tickets: $7, or $5 for Indie Memphis members and kids 12 and under. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

DCI 2013: Big, Loud and Live 10 (Not rated, 315 min.) Live via satellite from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, the world’s elite marching music ensembles perform in a five-hour-plus concert event marking the 10th anniversary of Drum Corps International’s cinema broadcasts.

5:30 p.m. Thursday, Paradiso. Tickets: $18. Visit malco.com.

Empire Builder (Not rated, 76 min.) A limited-seating Memphis premiere screening of the new movie by Kris Swanberg, a drama about a Chicago woman (Kate Lyn Sheil) who retreats to a cabin in Montana with her new baby. A Skype Q&A with the filmmaker will follow. Presented by local production company Piano Man Pictures.

7 p.m. Saturday, Black Lodge Video, 831 S. Cooper. Tickets: $5. Visit pianomanpictures.com/events.

Great White Shark: IMAX feature film takes a close look at this predator’s place in our imaginations and fears while exploring the shark’s reality and role at the top of the ocean food chain. Runs through Nov. 22. Tickets: $8.25; $7.50 senior citizens, and $6.50 for ages 3-12.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for showtimes, tickets and reservations.

Mean Girls (PG-13, 97 min.) Before she became the tabloid poster child for public dysfunction, Lindsay Lohan was a talented young actress, as demonstrated in this 2004 comedy about a high-school girl who runs afoul of the A-list student clique known as “The Plastics.” Pre-movie festivities at 6:30 p.m. include an appearance by “Memphis’ ultimate mean girls,” skaters with the Memphis Roller Derby league.

7 p.m. Thursday, the Orpheum, 203 S. Main. Tickets: $7, or $5 for Indie Memphis members and kids 12 and under. Visit orpheum-memphis.com.

Modest Reception (Not rated, 76 min.) The “Global Lens” series continues with director Mani Haghighi’s 2012 film about a wealthy couple from Tehran that travels around the countryside, offering large sums of money to random people who carry out their brazen, bizarre requests.

6 p.m. Monday, Meeting Room C, Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, 303 Poplar. Admission: free. Call (901) 415-2846.

Pink Flamingos (NC-17, 90 min.) The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art hosts an “adults only” Art & a Movie event. At 6 p.m., visitors can decorate their own keepsake pink flamingo lawn ornaments while drinking wine and listening to music by DJ Leroy. At 7 p.m., the museum screens John Waters’ infamous 1972 “midnight movie” classic about “The Filthiest Person Alive,” a drag queen played by Divine.

Thursday, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art. Tickets: $15, or $12 for museum members. Visit brooksmuseum.com.

Titans of the Ice Age: Go back to the beautiful and foreign frozen landscapes of North America, Europe and Asia 10,000 years before civilization. IMAX film runs through Nov. 22. Tickets: $8.25; $7.50 senior citizens, and $6.50 for ages 3-12.

IMAX Theater at Memphis Pink Palace Museum, 3050 Central. Call 901-636-2362 for showtimes, tickets and reservations.

NOW SHOWING

After Earth (PG-13, 100 min.) HH Will Smith.

Bartlett 10.

The Conjuring (R, 112 min.) Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in a haunted house.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Croods (PG, 98 min.) HH½ The 3D animation is state of the art.

Bartlett 10.

Despicable Me 2 (PG, 98 min.) Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) and his minions return.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

Epic (PG, 103 min.) A teenage girl discovers a hidden world.

Bartlett 10.

Fast & Furious 6 (PG-13, 130 min.) HH Vin Diesel.

Bartlett 10.

Fruitvale Station (R, 85 min.) HHHH In the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict, writer-director Ryan Coogler’s feature debut arrives with the immediacy of a news dispatch and the urgency of a tent-revival sermon. A compassionate portrayal of the last day in the life of a 22-year-old black man, the film reclaims the humanity of victims transformed into political symbols and provides context for black America’s distrust of the so-called justice system -- a distrust that dismays those who think it was the news media and not George Zimmerman’s bullet that “injected race” into the Martin killing. Michael B. Jordan (“The Wire”) stars as Oscar Grant, the unarmed Oakland man shot and killed by a transit officer while in custody for dubious reasons on New Year’s Day, 2009; the movie begins with actual cell phone footage of the tragedy. Constructed from fact and much imagined incident, the film presents Grant as a conflicted figure -- a loving if sometimes short-tempered father, boyfriend and ex-con who is kind to animals and who quits dealing dope just hours before his death. If the narrative’s saintly trajectory makes Grant’s story into an allegory of martyrdom, Coogler and Jordan insist on the man’s authenticity, which they convey through Grant’s warmth and humor and anger, and by embedding him in the reality of the Oakland locations.

Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13, 110 min.) HH Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis.

Bartlett 10.

Girl Most Likely (PG-13, 103 min.) Uptight Kristen Wiig moves back home with her free-spirit mom, Annette Bening.

Ridgeway Four.

The Great Gatsby (PG-13, 142 min.) HH½ Leonado DiCaprio.

Bartlett 10.

Grown Ups 2 (PG-13, 101 min.) HH Jettisoning the earlier film’s egregious schmaltz for an overload of (literal) gags involving vomit, loaded diapers and a CG urinating deer, this Happy Madison remedial-school version of “This Is 40” is as insane and dumbfounding and worthy of WTF mock-cult status as “The Room” or “Manos, Hands of Fate,” even if it did earn $42 million on 3,491 screens its first weekend.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Palace Cinema, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Heat (R, 117 min.) Slobby Melissa McCarthy and uptight Sandra Bullock are an “odd couple” of cops.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square.

The Internship (PG-13, 128 min.) Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson seek jobs with Google.

Bartlett 10.

Iron Man 3 (PG-13, 130 min.) HHH Terrorist and anxiety attacks prove equally dismaying to Marvel’s superheroic “man in a can” in this witty, satisfying sequel, directed and co-scripted by Shane Black, who previously guided star Robert Downey Jr. through the similarly clever private-eye pastiche “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” This time, the world — and zillionaire inventor Tony Stark (Downey) — must contend with the Osama-esque face of terrorism, the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Cordova Cinema, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (R, 75 min.) A standup comedy concert film, shot at Madison Square Garden.

DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso.

The Lone Ranger (PG-13, 149 min.) HHH As off the rails as its out-of-control locomotives, this inventive, irreverent and eccentric epic spoof/critique of the manifest destiny of America and its movies ignores Clayton Moore while embracing the unholy Mad magazine cinephilia of the animated “Rango,” the previous Western collaboration between star Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski, whose brazen robbery here of $225 million in production funds from Disney would give Butch and Sundance pause. A tall tale narrated by an ancient, wizened Tonto (Depp), the movie is stuffed to bursting with ideas (visual and otherwise), anti-authoritarian attitude and almost apocalyptic incident (fanged rabbits attack, a man’s heart is eaten); it might have made for a true neo-Spaghetti Western if not for the necessity of transforming its central avenger (Armie Hammer) into the more or less expendable Lone Ranger, whose authority is undercut by the deadpan Tonto at every turn.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Man of Steel (PG-13, 143 min.) HHH As an epic movie “event” and attempt by director Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”) and producer Christopher Nolan (the “Dark Knight” trilogy) to galvanize DC Comics into a legitimate big-screen rival to Marvel, the first sobersided Superman movie is a smash success; as a coherent film, it’s problematic. To inject new life into an old, even Mosaic parable, the filmmakers chronologically fracture the familiar events of the infant Kal-El’s journey from doomed (and here overconceptualized) Krypton to Kansas (where Diane Lane as Ma Kent easily takes acting honors from Amy Adams as Lois Lane); this origin story has become so mythic and influential that the movie’s acknowledgment of the thematic connection between the first comic-book superhero and his otherworldly savior predecessor, Jesus, seems more inevitable than offensive.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Monsters University (G, 118 min.) HHH½ A prequel to 2001’s “Monsters, Inc.,” the 14th Pixar feature film lacks the grandeur and ambition that characterize the company’s most impressive work but succeeds absolutely as a clever, beautifully rendered “Revenge of the Nerds” campus comedy and origin story for the friendship of high-energy walking eyeball Mike Wazowksi (voiced by Billy Crystal) and his shaggy bearlike friend, Sulley (John Goodman).

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Stage Cinema.

Now You See Me (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ Jesse Eisenberg.

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

Olympus Has Fallen (R, 117 min.) HH½ Gerard Butler.

Bartlett 10.

Pacific Rim (PG-13, 131 min.) HH½ Dedicated to monster masters Ray Harryhausen (the late stop-motion animator) and Ishiro Honda (director of “Godzilla,” “Mothra” and “Rodan”), Guillermo del Toro’s sincere, elaborate tribute to the (mostly) Japanese colossal-creature features that enthralled him as a child proves to be the director’s squarest, least interesting film, as if the project’s sense of fun and wonder collapsed beneath the gargantuism of its $190 million budget, in an aesthetic equivalent of the square-cube law that makes the story’s monsters impossible in real life.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

The Purge (R, 85 min.) HHH A state-of-the-art home security system and an exclusive gated address provide insufficient protection when an all-American family (led by father Ethan Hawke) is besieged by psycho thugs in this effective horror-thriller.

Bartlett 10.

Red 2 (PG-13, 116 min.) HHH Directed with snap by Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”), this witty follow-up to 2010’s DC Comics-inspired sleeper hit succeeds largely on the charm of its wily veteran cast, with top comedy honors going to John Malkovich as Marvin Boggs, a paranoid ex-”black ops” agent whose impersonation of a corpse represents about the only relief from a repertoire of pulled faces that Art Carney might envy. Other returning “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” operatives include Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Paul Cox; Mary-Louise Parker also is back, as Willis’ girlfriend, the lone non-spy/non-assassin of the cast. Newcomers include Anthony Hopkins (a “Da Vinci of death” weapons scientist); Catherine Zeta-Jones (Willis’ “kryptonite”); David Thewlis (known as “The Frog”); and Byung-hun Lee (“the best contract killer in the world”). The finale becomes overblown, but it’s mostly exciting and fun; having said that, let me add that I wish the film was not so gleefully gun happy and that it did not treat the loss of life entirely as a joke. (The MPAA attributes the movie’s PG-13 rating to, in part, “frenetic gunplay.”)

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

R.I.P.D. (PG-13, 96 min.) HH Based on a Dark Horse comic book series and immediately DOA at the box office, this dopey “Men in Black” rip-off imagines a supernatural Rest In Peace Department of deceased law officers, tasked with keeping Earth safe from restless menacing ghosts known as “Deados”; Ryan Reynolds is the newly departed Boston cop recruited to be an RIPD rookie and teamed with a long-dead Wild West lawman named Roycephus Pulsipher, played by a goofy Jeff Bridges (already parodying his turn in 2010’s “True Grit”). Director Robert Schwentke (“Red”) overloads the chaotic proceedings with cartoonish digital effects; the movie might best be enjoyed by kids, although parents won’t appreciate the “comic” moment when Roy reports that the coyote that ate his carcass “made love” to his skull. The cast includes Kevin Bacon, already familiar with law officers who behave idiotically, thanks to his role as an FBI agent on TV’s “The Following.”

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Majestic, Paradiso, Stage Cinema.

Smurfs 2 (PG, 105 min.) Opened Wednesday. See review on Page 12.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Summer Quartet Drive-In.

Star Trek Into Darkness (PG-13, 132 min.) HHH Director-fanboy J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to his franchise-reviving 2009 “Star Trek” is a super-glossy spectacle of bludgeoning action and emotion — moment to moment, it’s as entertaining, rousing and visually impressive as any recent science-fiction action epic

Bartlett 10.

This Is the End (R, 107 min.) HHH½ Seth Rogen..

Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The To Do List (R, 100 min.) A raunchy teen comedy about a sexually inexperienced overachiever (Aubrey Plaza) who wants to lose her virginity.

CinePlanet 16, Paradiso.

Turbo (PG, 96 min.) A snail dreams of winning the Indy 500.

CinePlanet 16, Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso, Stage Cinema, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

20 Feet from Stardom (PG-13, 91 min.) HHH½ Revealing, inspiring and thoroughly entertaining, this documentary celebration of the “pure expression” of the human voice provides an overdue appreciation of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Mable John and the other backup vocalists of the rock and soul era whose contributions to many of the most memorable recordings of the past half century too often have been overlooked or even buried (as when control-freak producer Phil Spector credited the No. 1 hit “He’s a Rebel” to the Crystals rather than to its actual vocalist, Love). Taking a cue from the blended voices of its subjects, the film harmoniously merges talking-head interviews, new performance footage and archival material; although a few white and a few male backup singers are interviewed, the story becomes a de facto chronicle of the experiences and status of many African-American women in show business, who, like their counterparts in less high-profile professions, too often are treated like “the help,” undervalued and exploited. Directed by Los Angeles-based Morgan Neville, a Memphis fan whose previous projects include documentaries about Stax, Sam Phillips and Johnny Cash.

Ridgeway Four.

Unfinished Song (PG-13, 93 min.) Even the original General Zod (Terence Stamp) can act cute when you pay him to play a grumpy pensioner.

Ridgeway Four.

The Way, Way Back (PG-13, 103 min.) HH½ If “Meatballs” were relocated from a summer camp to a water park and reworked into a semi-”serious” film, with half its running time devoted to Chris Makepeace’s poignant back story and dysfunctional home life, it would be something like this somewhat trite but beautifully acted and nicely atmospheric coming-of-age tale, which marks the impressive directing debut of its screenwriters, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (adapted screenplay Oscar-winners for “The Descendants”). Sam Rockwell is the Bill Murray character here, the laidback, deadpan, somewhat irresponsible but of course good-hearted manager of Water Wizz, a Massachusetts oceanfront attraction; with apparently nothing better to do, he becomes a tolerant guru of cool and conveniently available summer mentor to 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), an almost autistically awkward youth on a Fourth-of-July beach house vacation with his loving but insecure mother (Toni Collette) and her overbearing, vaguely menacing new boyfriend (played with change-of-pace coldness by Steve Carell), who — in a believably humiliating detail — grades Duncan as a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. Set in the present but with a retro vibe (the Yoda-meets-Spicoliesque Rockwell character is introduced playing Pac-Man), the film rather too neatly contrasts the deceitful outside adult world of alcohol, marijuana and adultery with the innocent pleasures inside the sanctuary of the park, where even the grown-ups caper on water slides and engage in water-gun fights; even so, it’s as likable as its young hero.

Collierville Towne 16, Cordova Cinema, Ridgeway Four.

White House Down (PG-13, 132 min.) HH A tough but lovable would-be Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) with a plucky young daughter (Joey King) helps an Obamaesque “academic” of a president (Jamie Foxx) become a reluctant action hero after terroristic right-wing traitors take over the White House; too bad the kid isn’t played by the 10-year-old Macaulay Culkin, or the home invaders wouldn’t stand a chance.

CinePlanet 16, Cordova Cinema, DeSoto Cinema 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

The Wolverine (PG-13, 129 min.) Hugh Jackman is back as the Marvel Comics mutant.

CinePlanet 16 (in 3-D), Collierville Towne 16 (in 3-D), Cordova Cinema (in 3-D), DeSoto Cinema 16 (in 3-D), Forest Hill 8, Hollywood 20 Cinema (in 3-D), Majestic, Palace Cinema (in 3-D), Paradiso (in 3-D), Stage Cinema (in 3-D), Studio on the Square, Summer Quartet Drive-In.

World War Z (PG-13, 116 min.) HH½ The spectacular set-piece highlights — the antlike swarms of zombies attacking the Jerusalem wall, the lethal traffic jam in Philadelphia, the airplane attack — were revealed in the trailers; what’s left is nothing that hasn’t been done better many times before by Romero, Danny Boyle, even AMC. More inspired by than adapted from the episodic “oral history” novel by Max Brooks, the movie borrows the book’s globe-trotting structure to follow U.N. troubleshooter Brad Pitt on the quest for a cure for a zombie pandemic that has restricted noninfected humanity to a few precarious outposts; the disease is spread by bite, but the movie is almost blood-free. CinePlanet 16, Hollywood 20 Cinema, Paradiso, Wolfchase Galleria Cinema 8.

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