In this week’s new movie releases, two films -- “22 Jump Street” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2” -- prove that sequels can be done right. And, former Saturday Night Live star Jenny Slate stars in “Obvious Child,” a film about an unplanned pregnancy.
★★★ “22 Jump Street” (R) “Much of the humor in ‘22 Jump Street’ is in-jokey and broad, including a funny end-credits sequence suggesting the myriad ways the still-fresh franchise can cannibalize its own concept and destroy audience goodwill. But the most enjoyable pleasures of this paean to summer silliness are the small ones.” – Ann Hornaday
★★★½ “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (PG) “‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is brimming with action while remaining mercifully straightforward. The undoing of many a sequel lies in its insistence on introducing multiple enemies to up the ante. There’s none of that here. Meanwhile, the movie manages to tackle themes of growing up and finding independence; coming to terms with one’s heritage; forgiveness; and how to properly care for a pet.” – Stephanie Merry
★★★½ “Obvious Child” (R) “After years of movies that depict abortion as a non-option (the worst offender being ‘Juno,’ which had to set up the straw man of a dingy, disgusting clinic for the teenage heroine to continue her pregnancy), “Obvious Child” dares to portray Donna’s decision in a way that’s serious and emotionally consequential but not fraught with crippling anxiety, shame or regret.” – Ann Hornaday
★★★½ “We Are the Best!” (Unrated) “You’d have to be a curmudgeon not to like ‘We Are the Best!’ or, at the very least, a statistical outlier. The charming little film about three girls who try to form a punk band in 1982 Stockholm has so far earned almost universal praise, most of which it deserves.” – Michael O’Sullivan
★★½ “The Grand Seduction” (PG-13) “‘The Grand Seduction’ will effortlessly charm anyone‘ susceptible to an endearing story told with modesty, wit and unprepossessing sweetness. Seductions don’t always have to be grand in order to work.” – Ann Hornaday
★★★ “Bicycling with Moliere” (Unrated) “This may be a buddy comedy on its surface, but ‘Bicycling With Molière’ also gives some insight into the way art imitates life, and also the way life informs art..” – Stephanie Merry
★½ “The Signal” (PG-13) “Two of the major plot turns in ‘The Signal’ — a good-looking sci-fi thriller with more fashion sense than brains — hinge on misdirection involving simple arithmetic and spelling. I won’t spoil the fun by elaborating further, but when each moment arrives, it’s cheapened by the implicit insult to the audience’s intelligence. The twists feel less like jolts of genuine surprise than like being had by a third-grader with a good knock-knock joke.” – Michael O’Sullivan
★★½ “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon” (R) “The movie is Myers’s directorial debut, and it feels like elaborate repayment for the ways Gordon has helped the comedian. Gordon does seem like a nice guy, and it’s reassuring to see that nice guys don’t always finish last, even in Hollywood. But the hero worship that powers the movie occasionally feels overblown, if not altogether cloying.” – Stephanie Merry
★★★½ “The Case Against 8” (Unrated) “Because there are so many angles to explore, something has to get short shrift. Personally, I’d love to hear more about David Blankenhorn, a vocal champion of Proposition 8 who, during the course of the legal fight, came to embrace the notion of gay marriage. The story of Blankenhorn’s 180-degree conversion is a footnote here, but it could easily fill another film.” – Michael O’Sullivan
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