TAGGED AS: Animation
This week at the movies, we’ve got a lost fish (Finding Dory, featuring voice performances by Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks) and mismatched spies (Central Intelligence, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart). What do the critics have to say?
Pixar has adopted more of a franchise mindset in recent years, but for many of us, the studio’s best films were never meant to be more than standalone stories — which makes attempting a sequel to a classic like Finding Nemo a risky endeavor indeed. Happily, this is one instance where critics overwhelmingly agree that the ends justify the means: like all the best Pixar flicks, Finding Dory is a funny, heartwarming adventure that serves up state-of-the-art visual thrills while imparting a thought-provoking, ultimately poignant message. Picking up a year after Nemo‘s conclusion, Dory centers on the titular forgetful Pacific regal blue tang (voiced by Ellen Degeneres) as she embarks on a quest to find her family after experiencing a sudden flash of memory. Blending new characters with familiar faces — and, of course, raising the bar yet again for animation — it might fall just a little short of its predecessor, but the end result still hits some impressively lofty heights.
Does the world need another buddy cop comedy? Most likely not. And yet it’s a formula that can deliver terrifically entertaining dividends under the right circumstances — and the pundits say Central Intelligence pulls it off just well enough to recommend. Dwayne Johnson stars as Bob, a doughy high school outcast who grew up to be a musclebound CIA agent; Kevin Hart plays Calvin, the former classmate-turned-accountant who gets roped into Bob’s big case on the eve of their high school reunion. It’s a suitably daffy premise, and the Johnson/Hart pairing is inspired — all of which adds up to a blast of popcorn fun strong enough to make up for a willingness to coast on formula and the charms of its stars. The critics are charmed rather than wowed, but this should scratch your buddy-cop comedy itch — at least until the next Johnson and Hart film.
Orange is the New Black is back and better than ever, with a powerful fourth season full of compelling performances by the ensemble cast.
Bolstered by Ellen Barkin‘s acting prowess, Animal Kingdom is a darkly intriguing, although occasionally predictable, twisted family drama.
While admittedly uneven, BrainDead remains a charmingly idealistic sign of the political times.
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