This week at the movies, we’ve got adventurous animals (The Secret Life of Pets, featuring voice performances by Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart) and uninhibited nuptial attendees (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, starring Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick). What do the critics have to say?


The Secret Life of Pets (2016) 72%

When you take your kids to the movies this weekend, do you want them to have their minds blown, or are you just looking for an hour and a half or so of agreeably diverting entertainment? Your answer to that question may have a major impact on how much you enjoy The Secret Life of Pets. Starring Louis C.K. as a happily domesticated terrier and Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet as the oafish rescue dog who threatens to disturb his idyllic existence, this Illumination production uses its sturdy talking-animals premise as a springboard into some amusing ideas about what sorts of mischief our pets might get up to while they’re home alone. Critics say that although many of the story’s intriguing possibilities are left by the wayside in favor of a fairly standard caper, Pets is rarely short of entertaining — and substantially enlivened by an all-star voice cast that also includes Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Albert Brooks, and Dana Carvey.


Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) 38%

A wedding, a pair of siblings, and a couple of scammers out for a good time. Sound familiar? Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates obviously has a few things in common with Wedding Crashers, but it’s actually loosely based on a real-life story about a couple of goober man-children (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) whose history of drunken revelry threatens to get them uninvited from their sister’s nuptials — unless they agree to bring dates to (theoretically) keep them in line. As luck would have it, the seemingly staid ladies they end up bringing (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick) are secretly just as wild as the fellas; unfortunately, despite the talented cast and its equal-opportunity distaff twist, critics say the results are underwhelming. Although Mike and Dave isn’t without laughs, reviews point to a frustratingly uneven affair that proposes gut-busting raunch but never quite commits.


What’s New on TV

The Night Of: Miniseries (2016) 94%

The Night Of is a richly crafted, exquisitely performed mystery that will keep viewers enthralled and leave them devastated.


Dead of Summer: Season 1 (2016) 63%

Dead of Summer sets a spooky stage for a silly period creepfest, but its lack of actual scares adds up to an altogether underwhelming experience.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Little Sister (2015) , a drama about estranged siblings connecting in the wake of their father’s death, is Certified Fresh at 92 percent.
  • Under the Sun (2015) , a guerilla-style documentary about a North Korean family preparing for Kim Jong-Il’s birthday, is at 90 percent.
  • Zero Days (2016)Alex Gibney‘s documentary about the U.S. and Israel unwisely opening a can of malware worms in its cyberwarfare efforts against Iran, is at 88 percent.
  • Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016) , a portrait of the 1970s sitcom titan and his lasting social impact beyond the small screen, is at 87 percent.
  • Sultan (2016) , starring Salman Khan in an underdog sports drama about a wrestler with dreams of Olympic glory, is at 80 percent.
  • Captain Fantastic (2016) , starring Viggo Mortensen as a single father of six navigating civilization after raising his family deep in the woods, is at 76 percent.
  • Men Go to Battle (2015) , an intimate period piece of the Civil War’s impact on two rural brothers, is at 73 percent.
  • The Debt (2015) , starring Stephen Dorff and David Strathairn in a drama about three sides of a land deal in Peru, is at 60 percent.
  • Fathers and Daughters (2015) , a sprawling family melodrama starring Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried, is at 24 percent.
  • Cell (2016) , starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson in an adaptation of the Stephen King book about people turning into crazed killers via phone signal, is at zero percent.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a big friendly giant (The BFG, starring Mark Rylance and Ruby Barnhill), an iconic jungle dweller (The Legend of Tarzan, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie), and a bunch of masked marauders (The Purge: Election Year, starring Frank Grillo and Elizabeth Mitchell). What do the critics have to say?


The BFG (2016) 74%

Few modern filmmakers have been able to capture the conflicting emotions of childhood as successfully as Steven Spielberg, and few authors have crafted young protagonists as gracefully as Roald Dahl — so Spielberg adapting Dahl’s classic The BFG should add up to an automatic home run. This latest cinematic take on the tale of a young girl named Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who embarks on an adventure with a big friendly giant (a mo-capped Mark Rylance) certainly benefits from the latest technology, presenting viewers with a series of visual splendors, yet many critics can’t help wishing for something more. Although overall quite positive, reviews point to a disarmingly sweet film that ignores the darker elements of Dahl’s source material, not to mention the sense of danger that informed Spielberg’s earlier work. All the same, younger viewers — and the young at heart of all ages — will likely be swept up by The BFG just as easily as he scoops up little Sophie.


The Legend of Tarzan (2016) 35%

It’s been quite awhile since a U.S. studio decided to make a big-budget film based on the vine-swinging jungle adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic Tarzan character — and based on the reviews for the David Yates-directed The Legend of Tarzan, it could be years before it happens again. Starring Alexander Skarsgård as the erstwhile ape man and Margot Robbie as Jane, Legend does its level best to grapple with the most problematic elements of the character; unfortunately, critics say those efforts aren’t enough to enliven what is, at bottom, a fairly ordinary action-adventure outing with not enough of either — and an overload of obvious CGI. There may yet be a way to turn Tarzan into a viable 21st-century film franchise, but the reviews point back to the drawing board after The Legend of Tarzan.


The Purge: Election Year (2016) 55%

When you’re living in the midst of a presidential election year, it can be difficult to imagine ways in which campaign season could possibly become even more of a circus. Well, now there’s The Purge: Election Year, which infuses the franchise’s traditional skull-cracking violence with a shotgun blast of politically timely relevance. Returning audiences to a future in which citizens have an annual 12-hour pass to legally commit all manner of mayhem — including murder — writer-director James DeMonaco’s third installment in the series envisions an election in which one candidate (Elizabeth Mitchell) vows to do away with the Purge if she’s elected. She’s got series protagonist Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo) on her side, but shadowy government forces are determined to stop her — and critics say it adds up to a wickedly dark action flick that, while perhaps not quite as lethally effective as its predecessors, is still high-caliber enough to recommend for filmgoers seeking a summer dose of genre thrills.


What’s New on TV

Thirteen: Miniseries (2016) 88%

Thirteen gives a well-worn premise an intriguing facelift with haunting execution and compelling performances across the board.


Queen of the South: Season 1 (2016) 68%

Queen of the South enlivens an overdone premise with action and narrative vigor — and shows hints of intriguing potential.


Dead of Summer: Season 1 (2016) 63%

Dead of Summer sets a spooky stage for a silly period creepfest, but its lack of actual scares adds up to an altogether underwhelming experience.


Roadies: Season 1 (2016) 35%

Roadies‘ condescending tone, boring and underdeveloped characters, and lack of dramatic intrigue lead to a failure to rock.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Microbe and Gasoline (2015) , Michel Gondry‘s new comedy about two teenage outcasts who plan to traverse france in a homemade car, is at 95 percent.
  • The Innocents (2016) , a drama about a Red Cross doctor tasked with treating a group of pregnant nuns in a Polish convent, is at 85 percent.
  • Life, Animated (2016) , a documentary about an autistic child who immersed himself in Disney films, is at 82 percent.
  • Our Kind of Traitor (2016) , starring Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris in a thriller about a vacationing couple who stumble into an international plot, is at 67 percent.
  • Carnage Park (2016) , a horror thriller about bank robbers and a hostage who cross paths with a crazed sniper, is at 60 percent.

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