Film capsules, Sept. 12, 2013

Summaries and mini-reviews of movies playing now, from e3 magazine:

  • AMC = AMC Village Mall, Danville.
  • ART = The Art Theater, Champaign
  • HAR = Harvest Moon drive-in, Gibson City
  • NOR = The Normal Theater, Normal
  • ONA = The Onarga Theater, Onarga
  • PRI = Princess Theatre, LeRoy
  • SAV = Savy 16, Savoy
  • VIR = Virginia Theatre, Champaign

ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY (2004). Will Ferrell stars in the title role as a '70s San Diego anchorman whose job and manhood are threatened when an ambitious woman (Christina Applegate) is hired to share the news-anchoring duties with him. The zaniness that erupts throughout the film knows no bounds as violent gang fights break out between competing news stations, Burgundy's dog Baxter speaks to grizzly bears and milk is declared "a bad choice" to drink while running. That the movie has become a cult classic comes as no surprise as it's packed with one offbeat moment after another as well as a bevy of quotable lines. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 94 minutes. Rated PG-13. ART.

THE ANGELS' SHARE (2012). Ken Loach comedy ala "Full Monty," but this time it's a new dad and friends who buy a whiskey distillery in hopes of building a new life. 101 minutes. Rated R. A Beyond Normal Films choice. NOR.

CASPER (1995). An expert in the paranormal (Bill Pullman) and his daughter (Christina Ricci) move into a creepy old house and find out that three malevolent ghosts and one very friendly one haunt it. The movie is harmless fun and will entertain youngsters while the adults will be slightly amused by the many cameos that pop up throughout. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 100 minutes. Rated PG. HAR.

CHICO & RITA. (Starts Thursday, Sept. 19) Latin jazz and troubled romance pervade the lives of Cuban piano player Chico and singer Rita. This Oscar-nominated animated feature (not for children) recreates bygone scenes in Havana, New York, Paris and Las Vegas and fills them with the music of Bebo Valdes, the rough model for Chico. 3 stars (Richard J. Leskosky). 93 minutes. Not rated (but contains nudity, sexual situations and adult themes). NOR.

CLEAN GUYS OF COMEDY LIVE. (Thursday, Sept. 19) Are you looking for a night of laughter without the F-bomb aftertaste? This event features the "unbleepable" stand-up talents of Dave Coulier, Jamie Kennedy, Andy Hendrickson, Ralph Harris and Heather McDonald. (http://www.gqti.com) 105 minutes. SAV.

CLOSED CIRCUIT. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall star as lawyers and ex-lovers who find themselves growing increasingly paranoid after they agree to defend an international terrorist. Smart and timely, this is the sort of film Hitchcock would be making today as it effectively taps into our fear of being constantly watched in our Big Brother era along with our inability to trust our governments. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 96 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

THE CONJURING. Based on a true story, this ghost tale follows the efforts of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who try to help a family rid their home of a malevolent spirit. James Wan does a fine job creating a genuinely eerie atmosphere and delivering the requisite scares; however, the movie is far too similar to "Insidious," the director's far superior effort from 2010, to be considered anything special. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 112 minutes. Rated R. HAR, SAV.

DESPICABLE ME 2. The evil genius Gru (voice by Steve Carell) returns, this time enlisted by a secret agency to help track down a dangerous formula that's fallen into the wrong hands. Less ambitious than the first film in scope and sporting a fairly flimsy story, the movie still proves to be an entertaining affair, primarily because of the appeal of its unique characters (gotta love those Minions) and the inspired sense of lunacy that prevails throughout. Fans will love this follow-up, though this sequel will more than likely not win over any new followers. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 98 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

EPIC. (Saturday) Spectacular visuals are the highlight of this animated feature that's bogged down by an all-too-familiar story. A teenage girl finds herself in the midst of a war between microscopic warriors of the Green and the denizens of the Rot. There are an adequate number of "Oh wow!" moments here, but the story lacks urgency, making for a movie that seems to be spinning its wheels rather than blazing any new trails in animation. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 102 minutes. Rated PG. PRI.

THE FAMILY. (Opens Friday) Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star as the heads of the Manzoni family who, after entering a witness protection program, relocate to Normandy, France. Needless to say, their old bad habits die hard, and they wind up having a hard time fitting in. With Tommy Lee Jones as the CIA agent who does his best to keep them from blowing their cover. 111 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. Dracula's (voiced by Adam Sandler) refuge for monsters and plans to protect his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from humans are compromised the day before her 118th birthday when perpetual human tourist Jonathan (Andy Samberg) shows up and Mavis falls for him. Charming, funny, family oriented animated feature with a message of tolerance turns trite in its last 20 minutes, but it's still worth a look. 3 stars (Richard J. Leskosky). 91 minutes. Rated PG. HAR.

INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2. The Lambert family, led by Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne), find themselves under siege once more as more malevolent spirits return to haunt them. 105 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER. Based on the true story of an African-American who served eight presidents, from Truman to Reagan, in the White House, with Forest Whitaker, full of dignity and humility in the title role, as pivotal events in the history of the civil rights movement swirl all around him. With Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr. and David Oyelowo. 3 stars (Steven Rae, The Philadelphia Inquirer). 132 minutes. Rated PG-13. AMC, SAV.

NO. (Opens Friday) Set in Chile in 1988, Pablo Larrain's powerful history lesson follows the efforts of a small resistance group that hires an inventive ad executive (Gael Garcia Benal) to spearhead its campaign to oust Augusto Pinochet from power. Larrain does a marvelous job recreating the sense of tension that existed in the country during this time while Bernal's dynamic performance keeps us riveted as the stakes in the story rise. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 118 minutes. Rated R. NOR.

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. A showcase for the boy band du jour, this documentary shows the five English lads during their 2012 world tour. The music is catchy, as bubblegum pop goes, but the film is most engaging when we see the boys away from the limelight, and they prove to be pleasant young men who have their heads on straight. While this film is aimed at the group's fans, those who are forced to attend may find themselves, at the very least, impressed with how the group has handled sudden success. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 92 minutes. Rated PG. AMC, SAV.

THE ONE: MAYWEATHER VS. CANELO LIVE. (Saturday) Special Fathom Feature, which also includes Garcia vs. Matthyse, will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. SAV.

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS. The home of Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and the other young demigods is threatened, and the only thing that will save it is the mythical Golden Fleece. The only problem is our hero and his friends Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) must travel to the treacherous Sea of Monsters to recover it. The film can't escape the long shadow of the "Harry Potter" films and other movies of its ilk, as everything feels derivative and a bit stale. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 106 minutes. Rated PG. SAV.

PLANES. This animated film from the Disney Studio tells the tale of a crop-dusting plane named Dusty who has ambitions to compete in an aerial race. The problem is, he's afraid of heights. This film is utterly predictable, but it's not without its charms. Witty humor is present throughout, and the film has a sense of confidence that's engaging. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 92 minutes. Rated PG. PRI, SAV.

RAMONA AND BEEZUS.(Starts Sataurday) Teenager Beezus (Selena Gomez) and her spunky accident-prone younger sister Ramona (Joey King) make it to the big screen with incidents gleaned from several of Beverly Cleary's popular children's novels. Engaging characters but listless filmmaking and pointless low-tech fantasy sequences. 2 stars (Richard J. Leskosky). 104 minutes. Rated G. SAV.

RIDDICK. Vin Diesel ably anchors this old-fashioned B-movie that follows the title character after he has been marooned on a violent planet and is forced to trigger a rescue beacon when he's about to be overrun by a group of nasty aliens. Two ships answer the call, and the tension mounts as the crews are at each other's throats and all wind up trapped in one ship while a terrific storm and the man-eating monsters attack them from without. Writer/director David Twohy charts a very deliberate course, allowing us to get to know the characters as he steadily increases the tension. More a thriller than an action film, this is a welcome respite from the summer's overblown, empty epics. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 119 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

SELECTIONS FROM THE 2013 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: PRINCE AVALANCHE. (Monday) Adapted from Icelandic film "Either Way," "Prince Avalanche" is driven by wonderful performances by Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch, and Lance LeGault. Writer/director David Gordon Green gets back to his independent roots with this character study, which shows his knack for realistically capturing people and finding meaning in their lives and dreams. (http://www.gqti.com) Rated R. SAV.

THE SHINING (1980). Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's novel is a ponderous affair as the director's trademark deliberate approach ends up generating far more tedium than terror. Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall star as Jack and Wendy Torrance, a troubled married couple who, along with their son, hole up in the remote Overlook Hotel to maintain it through a long, hard winter. Problem is, the isolation begins to prey on Jack's mind until he fancies he sees ghosts who want something from him, while his young son begins to develop inexplicable psychic abilities. Without question, Kubrick establishes a disturbing sense of place and the performances from all are top-notch. But it takes far too long for him to deliver the goods. 21/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 146 minutes. Rated R. HAR.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW. (Opens Friday) Sutter (Miles Teller) is a high school senior who is quite content with his life and isn't bothered at all by the fact that he has no plans for his future or that his steady drinking may be having an adverse effect on his life. However, when he meets and gets involved with an innocent wallflower (Shailene Woodley), he realizes that he may need to turn things around. Touching and deftly executed, this is the rare teen romance that strives for a reality of emotion that's rarely captured in the movies. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 95 minutes. Rated R. ART, SAV.

A STRANGE BRAND OF HAPPY. (Opens Friday) An aimless bachelor loses his job and finds himself chasing the same girl as his manipulative ex-boss. Stars Rebecca St. James, Joe Boyd, Shirley Jones. (Internet Movie Database) Rated PG-13. SAV.

THIS IS THE END. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride and Jay Baruchel play themselves in this end-of-the-world comedy that sees the comics' true natures emerge as the Rapture ensues. Though overlong and crude, it's done with such self-deprecating humor that you can't help but get swept away by the ridiculous nature of the movie. 3 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 107 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

2 GUNS. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are two federal agents, unaware of each other's identity, who cross paths as each investigates the same drug cartel. Buoyed by a sense of fun that hearkens back to the "Lethal Weapon" movies and a nice comedic turn from Wahlberg, this film survives on the charm of its two stars and the crisp direction from Baltasar Kormakur ("Collateral"). There's nothing new here, but this is a well-done action film. 31/2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 109 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

WE'RE THE MILLERS. Jason Sudeikis is a drug dealer who gets roped into going to Mexico to bring back a huge shipment of marijuana. To avoid suspicion, he hires a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), an awkward teenage boy (Will Poulter) and a homeless girl (Emma Roberts) to pose as his family. There are some laughs (some of them huge), but the film runs out of steam long before it ends. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 110 minutes. Rated R. AMC, SAV.

THE WORLD'S END. Five friends reunite to recreate a legendary pub crawl from 20 years earlier. Along the way, they find they hold the fate of the world in their hands. Repetitious and overbearing, this monotonous film spins its wheels after its first half-hour, while the tedium is exacerbated by a grating performance from Simon Pegg as a drunkard stuck in the past. 2 stars (Chuck Koplinski). 109 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

YOU'RE NEXT. A family reunion becomes a deadly affair when the Davison clan find themselves under attack by a gang of killers. But things take a turn when one of the victims turns the table on the home invaders. The film has been touted as a fresh look at the family-under-siege premise, but this is nothing but a retread of tired horror conventions. 1 star (Chuck Koplinski). 96 minutes. Rated R. SAV.

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