Safely Outrageous

Safely Outrageous

Horrible Bosses 2 depends on the most predictable kind of transgressive humor
In the opening scene of Horrible Bosses 2, our returning protagonist trio — Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) — appear on a happy-talk Los Angeles morning news show to promote their entrepreneurial idea, a shower head that includes a shampoo dispenser. Kurt stands in a makeshift shower in the studio to demonstrate the device, but darn it, the water won't work.

Katniss Strikes Back

The next installment of the Hunger Games series is sequel gold
Don't tell Hollywood I said this, but chopping the final novel of the Hunger Games trilogy into two films might be the best thing that could have happened to this franchise. I mean, it didn't work for Harry Potter — the first Deathly Hallows film was terrible — and Peter Jackson is already two-thirds of the way (with the final third almost upon us) toward demonstrating that turning the brief Hobbit book into three long films was not artistically warranted.

Growing Up

Seattle director Lynn Shelton delivers another unpredictable story with Laggies
Ten years after high school, 28-year-old Megan Burch (Keira Knightley) is floating through life, unable to settle into a career and new family attachments like her teenage BFFs have. Those pals are planning weddings and baby showers, and Ellie Kemper's inclusion as the bride-to-be in the film's opening setup helps create an expectation that Laggies is going to be another Bridesmaids-like comedy.

Stranger Than Fiction

Jon Stewart tries his hand at directing with the true story Rosewater
Students of recent Iranian history, or pretty much anyone who's turned on a TV newscast in recent years, will be familiar with the absurdity of the country's presidential election in 2009.

Got the Beat

Whiplash features some excellent jazz, but struggles with its message
If recent release Birdman borrowed a cup of energy from its drum score, then Whiplash, about a young jazz drummer at a cutthroat-competitive conservatory, steals a whole quart.

Superhero Life

Michael Keaton's bummed-out movie about movies delivers big-time
Michael Keaton is going to win an Oscar for Birdman. OK, got that out of the way.

Dare to Dream

Interstellar gives us hope for the future of big movies — and humanity
This is big. It's huge.

Night Moves

Jake Gyllenhaal is at his creepiest in Nightcrawler
Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a creepy guy with obvious psychotic tendencies. Just look at that mop of hair, long, hollow face and those big, staring eyes.

Oh So Close

A sweet story in Rudderless is undermined by some serious distractions
With his feature directing debut, you certainly can't say William H. Macy played it safe with Rudderless. The film tries to turn a tragic mass shooting on a college campus into a redemption story about the healing power of music and human connection.

Hard Bargain

An excellent cast makes the most of My Old Lady's simple charms
My Old Lady starts as what seems like a pleasurable fish-out-of-water trifle about a middle-aged American slacker in Paris to claim an inheritance. It deftly evolves, though, into something altogether more intense and emotional.

King of the Jerks

Jason Schwartzman takes mean to the next level in Listen Up Philip
There's a problem with Jason Schwartzman. Or maybe it's my own problem with Jason Schwartzman.

Battle Fatigue

Fury finds its creator in familiar hellish men-with-guns territory
Several years ago, my colleague Mike D'Angelo attempted a rather audacious experiment. While covering the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, he attended all the films in the festival's competition slate completely blind as to what he was going to see: not the title, not the premise, not the stars, not the director, nothing.

Divine Degeneracy

Bill Murray displays his unangelic charm in St. Vincent
St. Vincent tells a rather familiar cinematic tale: The grumpy old shut-in befriends a plucky young kid, and as unlikely as their pairing seems at first, they both end up teaching each other a little something about life. Only St. Vincent opens with said old man getting it on with a pregnant foreign prostitute.

Just the Feels

The Judge hopes that emotional response overwhelms your logical objections
While watching The Judge, I found myself considering how much the process of thinking critically about a movie is like being a member of a trial jury. An inner voir dire tells you that you're supposed to be considering the matter at hand rationally and objectively.

Storybook Ending

Steve Carell and the semi-decent family movie
This is what people mean when they talk about Disneyfication. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day remains a beloved children's book that's unique due to its utter lack of fluff.

Jump Around

David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl is a whirl of time-hopping, mystery-riddled excellence
How the hell do I write a review of a movie that would require me to insert the word "spoiler" at the beginning of every paragraph?

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