Capsule reviews of recent movie releases for Dec. 6

Capsule reviews of recent movie releases for Dec. 6

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Review: In ‘Knives Out,’ a whodunit for the Trump era

Chris Evans in "Knives Out"

Claire Folger, Lionsgate 

‘21 Bridges’ ★★½

R • 1:39 • The son of a New York City cop killed in the line of duty — but not before he punished the criminals he was pursuing — grows up to be a trigger-happy NYPD detective (played by Chadwick Boseman). It’s an overly schematic but reasonably watchable film. Washington Post

‘Abominable’ ★★★½

PG • 1:37 A Yeti grapples with grief, family and identity in Dreamworks’ latest animated feature in which plucky kids bond with strange, exotic creatures. Written and co-directed by Jill Culton. Tribune News Service

‘The Addams Family’ ★★½

PG • 1:27 This computer-animated reboot of the spooky family takes some liberties but doesn’t break the mold. The real inventiveness lies in its villain, a perky TV host (voiced by Allison Janney). Tribune News Service

‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ ★★★½

PG • 1:48 • Director Marielle Heller frames this film as though it were an episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Fred Rogers, played with clear-eyed purpose by Tom Hanks, introduces the audience to the film’s protagonist, journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), but this is not a children’s story at all. Based loosely on a 1998 Esquire profile of Rogers by Tom Junod. Associated Press


PG-13 • 1:30 • A mysterious phone app claims to predict the moment a person will die. With Elizabeth Lail, Jordan Calloway, Talitha Bateman, Tichina Arnold, P.J. Byrne, Peter Facinelli. Written and directed by Justin Dec. Not reviewed. Los Angeles Times

‘Dark Waters’ ★★★

PG-13 • 2:06 • Todd Haynes’ sober and ominous docudrama plunges into the prolonged (and ongoing) legal fight to uncover the environmental damage of cancer-inducing “forever chemicals” and hold their corporate makers accountable. With Mark Ruffalo, Bill Camp, Tim Robbins. Associated Press

‘Doctor Sleep’ ★★½

R • 2:31 • The cultural grip of “The Shining” is such that it has a stranglehold on Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of “Doctor Sleep,” a sequel of sorts, that it nearly chokes the life out of it. Starring Ewan McGregor as the grown-up Danny Torrance. Tribune News Service

‘Downton Abbey’ ★★★

PG • 2:02 • Structurally the story is a mess, with 18 main characters and minor narratives. There isn’t even a climax — just a lot of tying of loose ends from the hit TV series, which fans will appreciate. Directed by Michael Engler. Daniel Neman

‘Ford v Ferrari’ ★★★½

PG-13 • 2:32 • You don’t need to be a motorhead to enjoy Matt Damon and Christian Bale as a pair of rebels risking it all for purity and glory. Directed by James Mangold. Associated Press

‘Frozen II’ ★★½

PG • 1:43 • Disney’s sequel doesn’t represent some giant leap forward for the “Frozen” universe; it merely keeps the franchise on track, drifting pleasantly in and out of our consciousness, with some great tunes and lovely snowy landscapes to ogle. With voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad. Tribune News Service

‘The Good Liar’ ★★½

R • 1:49 • Bill Condon brings Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen together for this adaptation of Nicholas Searles’ novel. It’s a fine vehicle for the two charming British actors, but it’s potentially the politest, gentlest movie about a scammer ever. Tribune News Service

‘Harriet’ ★★

PG-13 • 2:05 • Cynthia Erivo stars as the escaped slave who famously brought others to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman’s story is familiar, but the movie offers little to surprise viewers. Directed and co-written by St. Louis native Kasi Lemmons. DN

‘Honey Boy’ ★★★½

R • 1:33 • In the broadest sense, Shia LaBeouf’s autobiographical script is a portrait of a boy whose father doesn’t, or can’t, love him the way he needs. What separates “Honey Boy” from the standard confessional is the heart, precision and artfulness that LaBoeuf and director Alma Har’el employ to tell the story. Associated Press

‘Hustlers’ ★★½

R • 1:47 • Based on a true story about a group of New York City strippers who start a side con, this movie spins its wheels but gets by thanks to a killer soundtrack and star Jennifer Lopez. Associated Press

‘It Chapter Two’ ★★½

R • 2:49 • It can be a cheesy thing when a novel is split up and spread out over multiple films, but Stephen King’s “It” (1986) is not one of those books. In the film follow-up to “It” (2017), in which adolescent outcasts battle a demon clown (Bill Skarsgård), the kids return 27 years later to their hometown when the clown also resurfaces. Associated Press

‘The Irishman’ ★★★½

R • 3:28 • Director Martin Scorsese keeps viewers rapt from the first winding tracking shot through a staid retirement home through the melancholic end. The subject at hand is Frank Sheehan (Robert De Niro), the teamster and mafia figure who claimed right before his death that he was the one who killed Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Associated Press

‘Jojo Rabbit’ ★★★

PG-13 • 1:08 • A young boy’s imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler in this boldly, unabashedly quirky movie that attempts to wring humor from the horrors of Nazi Germany. It’s a difficult balancing act at a time when such jokes seem even more potent and dangerous than a few decades ago. Directed by Taika Waititi. Associated Press

‘Joker’ ★★

R • 2:01 • Moody cinematography, bursts of extreme violence, an actor (Joaquin Phoenix) who psychically channels a character — it’s all smoke and mirrors to distract from a thin story told with all the nuance of a sledgehammer. Tribune News Service

‘Knives Out’ ★★★½

PG-13 • 2:10 • It’s hard to imagine having more fun at the movies than with this delectable murder mystery by Rian Johnson. Within the tightly crafted and finely embossed package is deceptively radical and empathetic message of acceptance, tolerance and wealth redistribution. With Christopher Plummer, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lakeith Stanfield, Chris Evans. Tribune News Service

‘Last Christmas’ ★★

PG-13 • 1:42 • Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding deserve much better than all the narrative sugar in this lolly of a movie, inspired by the Wham! holiday tune by the same name. Co-written and co-starring Emma Thompson, and directed by Paul Feig. Chicago Tribune

‘Marriage Story’ ★★★★

R • 2:16 • Noah Baumbach takes viewers deep into a dissolving marriage, showing how two people (Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver) fully invested in splitting amicably can get swept up so easily in animosity and legal challenges. Associated Press

‘Midway’ ★

PG-13 • 2:18 • Director Roland Emmerich squanders the crew’s considerable skill in retelling the crucial World War II battle at Midway by melding some of the best action sequences in years with the most banal of words. Associated Press

‘Parasite’ ★★★★

R • 2:11 • Co-writer and director Bong Joon-ho’s thriller about South Korean class warfare feeds on themes of societal callousness. Its shift into varying suspense thriller guises, and finally into disarming depths of feeling, works like magic, both inevitable and unpredictable. Chicago Tribune

‘Playing With Fire’ ★½

PG • 1:36 • Firefighters find their lives turned upside down when they rescue three siblings but can’t find the kids’ parents. It’s a harmless, lighthearted romp about tough guys learning to let their guard down, but it relies on tired, low-brow comedy tropes and is executed so poorly that it’s not worth the effort. Tribune News Service

‘Playmobil: The Movie’

PG • 1:39 • A sister and brother join a British secret agent to help stop a global conspiracy in this computer-animated action comedy based on the kids toy line. With the voices of Daniel Radcliffe, Anya Taylor Joy, Meghan Trainor, Kenan Thompson, Adam Lambert, Jim Gaffigan. Not reviewed. Los Angeles Times

‘Queen & Slim’ ★★★½

R • 2:12 • In Melina Matsoukas’ feature-film directorial debut, a mismatched pair (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) connect on Tinder, meet for a going-nowhere date and end up on the lam together. Associated Press

‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ ★½

R • 1:39 • Ruben Fleischer’s sequel to “Zombieland” (2009) reunites its original stars (Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin), imagining a world where the past decade never happened. Tribune News Service

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