Mud (PG-13) Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) writes and directs this thriller about two 14-year-old boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) who meet a fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) by the Mississippi River and help him elude police. Also with Michael Shannon, Ray McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Joe Don Baker, Sam Shepard, and Reese Witherspoon. (Opens Friday)
The Big Wedding (R) A remake of a French farce, this movie stars Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton as a divorced couple who must spend a weekend pretending to still be married for the benefit of their conservative new in-laws. Also with Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Christine Ebersole, David Rasche, Patricia Rae, and Robin Williams. (Opens Friday)
Camp (PG-13) Jacob Roebuck’s drama is about an abused 12-year-old boy (Miles Elliot) who deals with his past at a summer camp. Also with Michael Mattera, Asante Jones, Matthew Jacob Wayne, Grace Johnston, and Elizabeth Tripp. (Opens Friday at Rave North East Mall)
Disconnect (R) Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball) directs this drama of interlocking stories about characters struggling to communicate in today’s world. Starring Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Michael Nyqvist, Paula Patton, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgård, Max Thieriot, Jonah Bobo, and Norbert Leo Butz. (Opens Friday at AMC Grapevine Mills)
Pain & Gain (R) Based on a real-life story, this modestly budgeted film by Michael Bay (the Transformers movies) stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne Johnson as bodybuilders who hatch an inept kidnapping scheme that goes wrong. Also with Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, Michael Rispoli, and Rebel Wilson. (Opens Friday)
Starbuck (R) A record-breaking box-office hit in Canada, Ken Scott’s farce stars Patrick Huard as a 42-year-old French Canadian who discovers that he has fathered more than 500 children through his donations to a sperm bank. Also with Julie LeBreton, Antoine Bertrand, Igor Ovadis, David Michael, and Patrick Martin. (Opens Friday in Dallas)
Admission (PG-13) Tina Fey’s new movie is being sold as a standard-issue romantic comedy, but it’s much heavier and more interesting than that. Adapted from Jean Hanff Korelitz’ novel, this stars Fey as a Princeton admissions officer who learns from a nontraditional school founder (Paul Rudd) that one of his students (Nat Wolff) is the baby she gave up for adoption 17 years ago. Besides tart observations on the university admissions process, the movie packs intriguing characters, including Lily Tomlin as Fey’s feminist-scholar mother. Yet the chemistry between Fey and Rudd doesn’t take, and the movie comes to think of the boy’s acceptance to Princeton as a matter of life or death for some reason. Despite its flaws, this is still the best Tina Fey movie to date. Also with Michael Sheen, Gloria Reuben, Christopher Evan Welch, Travaris Spears, Olek Krupa, Sonya Walger, and Wallace Shawn.
The Call (R) Halle Berry stars in this thoroughly sadistic little thriller as a traumatized 911 operator who involves herself with the case of a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who is abducted by a serial killer and places a call from the trunk of his car. We learn much about how 911 operators do their jobs and how they might respond in a situation such as this. Yet the heroine’s actions make absolutely no sense in the last 15 minutes of this thing, and the movie overall is histrionic and tawdry. Director Brad Anderson used to make such great romantic comedies; What’s he doing wasting his time on something like this? Also with Morris Chestnut, Michael Eklund, David Otunga, José Zúñiga, Justina Machado, Roma Maffia, and Michael Imperioli.
The Croods (PG) This fitfully inspired animated comedy is about a family of prehistoric cavepeople headed by an overprotective, risk-averse dad (voiced by Nicolas Cage) until their home is destroyed and they’re forced to journey many miles to find a new place. The movie’s fanciful prehistoric landscape is nice to see, and terrific voice work from both Cage and Emma Stone as his adventurous daughter gives the movie some personality. However, the movie never really hits any memorable highs or sustains any sort of momentum and is populated by bizarre creatures. Check out the graceful flock of cute, murderous little red birds. Additional voices by Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, Chris Sanders, and Cloris Leachman.
Dear Babe (NR) Rosanne Ehrlich’s documentary about her father’s letters to her mother while he served in World War II.
Evil Dead (R) Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez cleverly reframes Sam Raimi’s 1981 camp horror classic as the story of a junkie trying to get clean. Jane Levy (from TV’s Suburgatory) stars as a recovering heroin addict who becomes possessed by a demon while trying to quit cold turkey at a cabin in the woods with her friends. Alvarez does a fair job of replicating Raimi’s over-the-top gross-out humor, and Levy excels as both the troubled druggie and as the murderous hellbeast, thanks to a rewarding script co-written by Juno’s Diablo Cody. As the heroine has to slay the demon version of herself, the movie plays like the fever dream of an addict going through the worst withdrawal ever. That’s a good thing. Also with Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore, Jessica Lucas, and Jim McLarty.
Filly Brown (R) Gina Rodriguez is such a dynamic presence in the title role that you almost forget how wearisomely predictable all the story beats are in this music drama. She plays an aspiring rapper from L.A.’s barrio with a heroin-addicted mom in prison (played by the late Jenni Rivera) who must decide whether to compromise or stay true to her artistic integrity. The movie gets especially sticky when it delves into gangland drama, but the tiny Rodriguez raps credibly and locates her character’s resolve in a way that transcends the setup. There’s an amusing performance by Ramon Herrera, a.k.a. Chingo Bling, as a shady small-time promoter. Also with Lou Diamond Phillips, Braxton Millz, Emilio Rivera, Noel Guglielmi, Chrissie Fit, Joseph Julian Soria, Kerry Norton, and Edward James Olmos.
42 (PG-13) A museum piece, not a movie. This biography of Jackie Robinson focuses on the three years leading up to the baseball star’s tumultuous 1947 season, when he integrated his sport as a player for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Writer-director Brian Helgeland tries to create scope by taking us through dead-end subplots with poorly characterized supporting roles. This is forgivable; less so is Helgeland’s failure to give us a sense of how widespread racism was among fans, the press, and executives. The racial slurs that Robinson (Chadwick Boseman, doing what he can with a plaster saint of a role) encounters seem to come mostly from a few troublemakers. Had Helgeland been more willing to court controversy, this might have been the great American story that it promised to be. Also with Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Ryan Merriman, Lucas Black, Andre Holland, Alan Tudyk, Hamish Linklater, T.R. Knight, and John C. McGinley.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (PG-13) In this sequel to the 2010 hit, the commando unit is exterminated except for three soldiers (Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, and D.J. Cotrona), who try to prove that the U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce) who ordered them killed is actually an imposter and a terrorist agent. Had the movie focused on that plot, or indeed any other, it might have been all right. Instead, the action scenes (including a swordfight on a zipline high in the mountains) pile on one another in no discernible order and contain so many huge guns and combat vehicles that you wonder who’s compensating for their masculine shortcomings. The movie is nonsensical and not nearly as cool as it thinks it is. Also with Lee Byung-hun, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, Ray Park, Luke Bracey, Walton Goggins, Arnold Vosloo, RZA, Channing Tatum, and Bruce Willis.
Home Run (PG-13) This feel-good baseball drama ends up getting lost in left field. Cory (Scott Elrod) is a professional baseball player with a reputation for bad-boy behavior on and off the field. His overly sassy agent (Vivica A. Fox) steps in, enrolling him in A.A., and, for good PR, making him the head coach of a Little League team in his hometown. Despite a few touching scenes, the film is mostly unintelligible due to so many competing plots. Is this a movie about Cory fighting the abusive ghost of his father; reuniting with his lost son (Charles Wyson); saving his career; making amends with Emma (Dorian Brown), the estranged mother of his child; or trying to quit drinking? There’s no telling. Also with James Devoti, Nicole Leigh, Drew Waters, Robert Peters, Elvin Rosa, Samantha Isler, and Ty Fanning. — Edward Brown