"Inside Llewyn Davis” tops the week's new releases with four stars. Also reviewed: "American Hustle," "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" and "Walking With Dinosaurs."
★★★★ “Inside Llewyn Davis” (R) “Llewyn emerges as an improbably sympathetic anti-hero in 'Inside Llewyn Davis,' written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen in a tender, startlingly straight-faced departure from their established house style of cool, ironic distance. Not that they’ve entirely abandoned their signature sharp edges and jokes confected like cookies full of arsenic: ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ is full of lacerating, often profane speechifying, much of it darkly funny and most of it directed at the long-suffering, compulsively self-sabotaging Llewyn, who sourly returns the verbal abuse in kind.” – Ann Hornaday
★★★1/2 “American Hustle” (R) “The warmth that courses through 'American Hustle' makes it irresistible, with Russell’s affection for his characters and his sharp-eyed evocation of their recessionary times, honoring their struggle, however dishonest, rather than denigrating it. If his idealism strikes some viewers as unearned, it offers a bracing counterpoint to the unremitting cynicism of the upcoming 'Wolf of Wall Street,' in which greed is the same operating principle, albeit with no reassuring third-act redemption.” – Ann Hornaday
★★1/2 “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (PG-13) “Considering the improvisatory talents — even genius — of Ferrell and his co-stars, it’s no surprise that laughs abound in 'Anchorman 2': Right off the bat, during Burgundy’s voice warmups before a newscast, just the simple phrases 'bat mitzvah' and “foot rub” achieve heights of improbable hilarity.” – Ann Hornaday
★1/2 “Walking With Dinosaurs” (PG) “The movie aims to show the harshness of the dinosaur-eat-dinosaur world and it doesn’t shy from killing off parental figures, Disney style. Yet a bit of comedy and a little love (Patchi falls for Juniper, a pachyrhinosaurus from another herd) softens the reality. Nevertheless, the plot feels haphazard and repetitive, with frequent scenes depicting the dangers as the herd travels north and south depending on the season.” – Stephanie Merry