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'Shaun the Sheep' absurdly amusing for all ages

"Shaun the Sheep" is the kind of movie in which lobsters exchange fist bumps and a goldfish plays Death Row jailhouse harmonica. Playful, absurd and endearingly inventive, this unstoppably amusing feature reminds us why Britain's Aardman Animations is a mainstay of the current cartooning golden...

  • 'Five Star' sheds real light on N.Y. gang life

    'Five Star' sheds real light on N.Y. gang life

    Reality meets fiction in "Five Star," Keith Miller's low-key glimpse into gang life in New York City. James "Primo" Grant, a real member of the Bloods, stars as Primo, a "five star" general in the gang. He's on the other side of the life now, more focused on being a father to his small children....

  • 'Jenny's Wedding' stars a tender Katherine Heigl in a timely gay marriage tale

    'Jenny's Wedding' stars a tender Katherine Heigl in a timely gay marriage tale

    Heartstring-tugging if a bit humorless, "Jenny's Wedding," written and directed by "Beaches" writer Mary Agnes Donahue, is an apt release in the wake of the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

  • 'Extinction' finds little new in a zombie evolution

    'Extinction' finds little new in a zombie evolution

    "The Walking Dead" must really be leaving its mark on the entire zombie subgenre. Following this spring's "Maggie," in which a father tries to care for an infected daughter until her inevitable transformation, "Extinction" similarly uses the zombiepocalypse as a backdrop to explore the melodramatic...

  • 'Best of Enemies' showcases brainy bloodsport

    'Best of Enemies' showcases brainy bloodsport

    Moviegoers wary of the summer's expensively rendered superhero skirmishes can still find mano-a-mano thrills — all verbal, no less tension-filled — in "Best of Enemies." Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville's pungently entertaining, richly observed documentary revisits the 1968 TV debates between conservative...

  • Hugh Jackman, World Vision overpower 'Dukale's Dream'

    Hugh Jackman, World Vision overpower 'Dukale's Dream'

    While "Wolverine's Ethiopian Vacation" might have grabbed extra attention, the more alliterative "Dukale's Dream" documents a meeting that proved life-changing for both Hugh Jackman and a poor coffee farmer during a 2009 trip to Addis Ababa on behalf of World Vision International Australia.

  • 'I Am Chris Farley' glosses over ex-'SNL' star's darker side

    'I Am Chris Farley' glosses over ex-'SNL' star's darker side

    Like a doll forever teetering on the wrong side of a do-not-overinflate experiment, Wisconsin-born "Saturday Night Live" star Chris Farley wrung laughter out of his performance paradoxes: He was large but agile, loud yet vulnerable, and somehow gracefully explosive.

  • Colorful 'Lego Brickumentary' is shaded by green

    Colorful 'Lego Brickumentary' is shaded by green

    Not everything is awesome about "A Lego Brickumentary," a colorfully constructed film surveying the vastness of the Lego universe that can't help but come across as corporate horn-tooting.

  • 'The Seventh Dwarf' a forgettable princess tale

    In the new German CG feature "The Seventh Dwarf," elements from "Snow White," "Sleeping Beauty," "Tangled," "Frozen," "Happy Feet" and "Shrek" have been ineptly stitched together into a leaden film that children will enjoy about as much as lumps in their oatmeal.

  • Director Ringo Lam returns to form with 'Wild City'

    Best known in the U.S. as the filmmaker whose "City on Fire" inspired Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs," Ringo Lam hasn't made a feature since the 2003 direct-to-video Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle, "In Hell." Lam did partake in the 2007 triptych "Triangle," but the state of Hong Kong filmmaking...

  • 'Paulo Coelho's Best Story' skims surface of author's life

    'Paulo Coelho's Best Story' skims surface of author's life

    Paulo Coelho's mega-selling novels and memoirs — allegorical, abounding in aphorisms and supplemented by a prolific social-media output — have made him a revered figure for millions of modern-day seekers. The screen version of the Brazilian author's life, a period-hopping attempt to shatter the...

  • 'Outrageous Sophie Tucker' captures entertainer's star power

    'Outrageous Sophie Tucker' captures entertainer's star power

    She is all but unknown today, but in 1962, when a poll asked Americans what they thought of when they heard the name "Sophie," 95% answered "Tucker." An easygoing documentary, "The Outrageous Sophie Tucker," is a genial attempt to raise her current profile.

  • 'The Look of Silence,' which revisits Suharto's brutality, is sure to shock

    'The Look of Silence,' which revisits Suharto's brutality, is sure to shock

    "The Look of Silence" is a shocking and significant film, a further illumination of one of recent history's great horrors, a documentary that will make a difference in the world. It is also an exceptionally difficult film to actually watch.

  • 'Southpaw' has solid Jake Gyllenhaal in ring but a contrived script

    'Southpaw' has solid Jake Gyllenhaal in ring but a contrived script

    If you admire the shameless in cinema, if you consider yourself a connoisseur of contrivance, you're going to have to tip your glove in the direction of "Southpaw," a boxing melodrama so gleefully preposterous attention must be paid.

  • 'Paper Towns' unfolds into a solid high school movie

    'Paper Towns' unfolds into a solid high school movie

    Like a good prom date, a good high school movie just needs to keep you entertained and out of trouble for a couple hours. A great high school movie — "The Breakfast Club," "Rebel Without a Cause," "Boyz n the Hood" — will linger in your mind well into adulthood.

  • 'Pixels' never comes into focus as a real picture

    'Pixels' never comes into focus as a real picture

    Some movies are so interminable that it seems they might never end, while others are assembled with such indifference that you are essentially left waiting for them to start. "Pixels" somehow manages both.

  • Charm, goodwill and distinct pleasures reside in overlong 'Samba'

    Charm, goodwill and distinct pleasures reside in overlong 'Samba'

    For much of its overlong running time, the French dramedy "Samba" is a warm and captivating look at the world of workers in that country illegally and the immigrant advocates battling on their behalf. However, by its second half, the film, from writer-directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano...

  • 'Jack Strong' brings true Cold War thriller to life

    'Jack Strong' brings true Cold War thriller to life

    Fans of Cold War novelists John le Carré and Tom Clancy should warm up to "Jack Strong," a gripping political thriller based on the exploits of Ryszard Kuklinski, a high-ranking Polish army officer who shared top-secret Soviet documents with the CIA between 1972 and 1981.

  • 'The Young Kieslowski' taps into genuine, relatable truths

    'The Young Kieslowski' taps into genuine, relatable truths

    There's a welcome air of honesty drifting around Kerem Sanga's "The Young Kieslowski," a contemporary comedy-drama about a one-night-stand with unexpected ramifications.

  • Review: Disturbing twists in 'Amina Profile'

    Review: Disturbing twists in 'Amina Profile'

    The events traced in the documentary "A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile" will be familiar to many; for others, they present a progression of jaw-dropping twists. Either way, Sophie Deraspe's film is a compelling anatomy of an Internet hoax — one that grabbed headlines amid the revolutionary...

  • 'Stray Dog' busts stereotypes as it reveals heart of a vet

    'Stray Dog' busts stereotypes as it reveals heart of a vet

    No stranger to caricature-smashing, studied authenticity, "Winter's Bone" filmmaker Debra Granik applies her trademark immersive approach to her first documentary, "Stray Dog," with equally revealing results.

  • Little absolution for 'The Vatican Tapes'

    Little absolution for 'The Vatican Tapes'

    "The Vatican Tapes" isn't the latest attempt at milking the dreaded found-footage fad, and for that reason alone critics around the country who suffer from vérité fatigue can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Nevertheless, it remains the latest attempt at milking the possession fad. The film...

  • '10 Cent Pistol' wants to be pulp fiction but misfires

    '10 Cent Pistol' wants to be pulp fiction but misfires

    "10 Cent Pistol" serves as a perfect example of getting what you pay for.

  • 'Frank the Bastard' a complex, engrossing mystery

    A complex, engrossing mystery that holds up in repeated viewings, "Frank the Bastard" premiered in 2013 under the less unfortunate title "East of Acadia." Revolving around a dark chapter in a quaint New England town's history, like writer-director Brad Coley's previous effort, "The Undeserved,"...

  • 'American Heist' a tepid potboiler despite star power

    'American Heist' a tepid potboiler despite star power

    Despite a few strong emotional beats, the crime drama "American Heist" proves as undistinguished as its generic title. This derivative story of hard-luck brothers drawn into an ill-fated robbery is notable for raising one pervasive question: What are Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and the underrated...

  • 'Dark Was the Night' gets lost chasing thrills

    'Dark Was the Night' gets lost chasing thrills

    In "Dark Was the Night," an ancient two-legged creature has descended on and left three miles of what resemble hoof prints over the fictitious small town of Maiden Woods, apparently as the result of deforestation. Local animals have been either acting strangely or vanishing without a trace.

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