Interesting group of films this week, but I doubt I’ll see any of them.
The likely box-office winner (behind Furious 7, though) is Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (14), which is set right here in Vegas. It’s been five years since the first one–is that too long? I didn’t see the first one, and it would only be on pain of torture that I would see this one. I just don’t get Kevin James’ appeal. Justin Chang: “Nothing aired by WikiLeaks could possibly be more destructive to Sony’s reputation than the release of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, the sort of movie that goes beyond mere mediocrity to offer possible evidence of a civilization in decline.”
Merchants of Doubt (70) sounds like an important doc about how the country is being ruined by paid spokesman, who will say anything for a buck. It’s the kind of thing that would make me very, very angry. Roger Moore: “Merchants of Doubt has its moments when the professional deniars hem and haw about who pays them to do what they do. But mostly, they’re glib, smug, self-confessed and self-righteous tools of Big Coal, Big Chemical or Big Oil.”
Another doc, on a slightly different kind of primate, is Monkey Kingdom (70) If I had kids, I’d take them to this, where they might learn something, than some horrible animated piece of crap. Sara Stewart: “On the whole, though, you couldn’t do much better than Monkey Kingdom to get kids invested in learning about, and protecting, the natural world.”
Unfriended (60) is this week’s horror film designed for teenagers but rated R. My sixth-graders love watching the trailer, but they’ll have to sneak into the movie. Have to wonder at the marketing for that. Anyway, it’s how Facebook can kill you. Joshua Rothkopf: “Even though Unfriended begins to cheat, springing loud noises and gory cutaways that can’t be explained, there’s a rigor to its dopey, blood-simple conception that you might smile at.”
The most intriguing film of the weekend is True Story (50), about a newspaper reporter who finds that a killer is using his identity. It’s Jonah Hill and James Franco, not kidding around. I might have paid to see this but the reviews are weak. Michael Phillips: “True Story is a case of a well-crafted film, made by a first-time feature director with an impressive theatrical pedigree, that nonetheless struggles to locate the reasons for telling its story.”