Capsule reviews of recent movie releases for Jan. 17

Capsule reviews of recent movie releases for Jan. 17

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'Like a Boss' feels more like a chore: You can't wait for this movie to be over

Billy Porter and Tiffany Haddish in “Like a Boss” 

‘1917’ ★★★★

R • 1:59 • Director Sam Mendes gives a compelling look at World War I through the eyes of two ordinary soldiers asked to perform an extraordinary task. Associated Press

‘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

‘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

‘Black Christmas’

PG-13 • 1:38 • Update of the 1974 holiday horror classic about sorority sisters stalked by a masked killer. With Imogen Poots, Aleyse Shannon, Lily Donoghue, Cary Elwes. Written by Sophia Takal, April Wolfe. Directed by Takal. Not reviewed. Los Angeles Times

‘Bombshell’ ★★½

R • 1:48 • Savvy, flashy docudrama about the culture of sexual misconduct at Fox News trades equally on recent headlines and on the star power of its cast, which includes Charlize Theron (almost unrecognizable as Megyn Kelly), Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and John Lithgow. Associated Press

‘Cats’ ★★½

PG • 1:50 • Director Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit Broadway musical is a confusing spectacle that presents more questions than answers. Stars — cloaked in digital fur — include Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Idris Elba and Jason Derulo. Tribune News Service


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

‘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 Grudge’

R • 1:34 • A house is cursed by a vengeful ghost that dooms those who enter it with a violent death. Directed by Nicolas Pesce. Not reviewed.

‘A Hidden Life’ ★★★

PG-13 • 2:54 • Terrence Malick chronicles the life of Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector during World War II whose little-known story has risen in prominence in the decades since Pope Benedict XVI beatified him in 2007. 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

‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ ★★½

PG • 2:03 • This sequel offers more jaw-droppingly crazy video-game high jinks and more stars playing personas vastly different from their own. Tribune News Service

‘Just Mercy’ ★★★

PG-13 • 2:17 • Urgent, searing and powerful film tells the real story of a civil rights attorney and his fight to keep an innocent black man from being executed. Starring Michael B. Jordan. Associated Press

‘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

‘Like a Boss’ ★½

R • 1:23 • If there’s one word to describe this girl-power comedy, it’s “incomprehensible.” Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek star as women who are competitors in the cosmetics industry. With Jennifer Coolidge, Billy Porter and Karan Soni. Directed by Miguel Arteta. Tribune News Service

‘Little Women’ ★★★

PG • 2:15 • Christmas with Greta Gerwig’s set of little women is more Merchant Ivory than Charles Dickens. Louisa May Alcott’s novel not only can handle another remake, it still speaks to 21st-century audiences of all ages. With Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep and Timothée Chalamet. Jane Henderson

‘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

‘Midnight Family’

NR • 1:21 • Documentary about a family-run private ambulance service in Mexico City. Directed by Luke Lorentzen. In Spanish with English subtitles. Los Angeles Times

‘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

‘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

‘Spies in Disguise’ ★★½

PG • 1:41 • Strange tonal mashup takes the hypermasculine and hyperviolent world of glamorous spies and turns it into kid-friendly family entertainment. With voices of Will Smith, Tom Holland, Reba McEntire, Ben Mendelsohn and Rashida Jones. Tribune Media Service

‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ ★★★½

PG-13 • 2:21 • Taken on its own merits, the latest and presumably last adventure of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is at once thrilling, imaginative and surprisingly poignant. Directed by J.J. Abrams. Calvin Wilson

‘The Two Popes’ ★★★

PG-13 • 2:06 • Fernando Meirelles imagines an unlikely bromance between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and the soon-to-be Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce). Associated Press

‘Uncut Gems’ ★★★½

R • 2:14 • Adam Sandler delivers one of his best performances, as a New York City jeweler with questionable morals. Associated Press

‘Underwater’ ★★½

PG-13 • 1:35 • Kristen Stewart gets her “Ripley moment” in this haunting adventure. Basically, it’s “Alien” on the ocean floor. Tribune News Service

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