EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 14, 2013

In theaters this week

MCT
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Admission

1/2

Tina Fey stars as a Princeton admissions officer, Paul Rudd is a hippe-dippie progressive school head lobbying for one of his students, in this odd mix of romantic comedy, improbable soap and Ivy League satire. 1 hr. 57 PG-13

Any Day Now

Solid performances by Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt flesh out the bare-bones script of this period piece about gay lovers who petition for custody of a Down syndrome teen while his mother serves time for drugs. 1 hr. 41 R

Barbara

Nina Hoss gives an amazingly controlled, nuanced performance as a doctor exiled to the provinces in the cold, gray East Germany of 1980. Mistrust hangs in the air in this hushed, suspenseful character study. A gem from filmmaker Christian Petzold. 1 hr. 45 PG-13

Beautiful Creatures

1/2

A trippy, over-the-top supernatural teen romance, about a Goth-y witch girl (Alice Englert) and the mere mortal high school boy (Alden Ehrenreich) who falls for her. Diabolical curses and Civil War flashbacks ensue — and Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons talk up a dark magic storm. Adapted from the first book in the YA series “Caster Chronicles.” 2 hrs. 04 PG-13 The Call

A sordid slice of abduction porn, with Halle Berry as a veteran 911 operator who is not, no way, never, going to let the 16-year-old girl trapped in the trunk of a psycho’s car disappear and die. Abigail Breslin displays a wide range of shrieks, squeals, yelps and sobs as the victim, and Morris Chestnut is Berry’s LAPD cop boyfriend. 1 hr. 34 R

The Croods

1/2

DreamWorks’ latest animated blockbuster is a visually dazzling, if a little empty-headed, 3-D feast for the eyes. Nicolas Cage stars as the patriarch of a prehistoric caveman family who are forced to go on a road trip when their cave is destroyed. Emma Stone plays his adventurous daughter and Ryan Reynolds her love interest, a more evolved man who introduces the family to fire, cooking and tool-making. The flick is breezy, diverting and fun, tough it lacks the inspired wit that made “Shrek” a classic. 1 hr. 38 PG

Dark Horse

Todd Solondz’ latest suburban chamber of horrors is a wonderfully realized and surprisingly understated dark satire, an odd — and, at times, oddly endearing — love story between rude, obese, unlikable Abe and narcissistic, depressive Miranda. 1 hr. 24 No MPAA rating (mature themes, profanity)

Dead Man Down

1/2

Colin Farrell stars in this unwitting gangland noir parody, about a hitman, his boss, a moody moll and a mess of badness and betrayal. Noomi Rapace is the emotionally and physically scarred femme fatale, and Terrence Howard, Dominic Cooper and F. Murray Abraham also star. 1 hr. 50 R (violence, profanity, sex, adult themes)

Emperor

A general working with Douglas MacArthur tries to assess Hirohito’s complicity in attacking the U.S. — but also tries to find the Japanese exchange student he fell in love with before the war — in this historically interesting (but perhaps historically suspect) mix of romantic shmaltz and post-war angst and intrigue. Matthew Fox stars. 1 hr. 46 PG-13 (violence, war, adult themes)

EVIL DEAD 3 stars. This remake of Sam Raimi’s 1981 demonic gorefest doesn’t surpass the original, but it measures up well enough to give fans of the genre what they crave. 1 hr. 32 R (ultra-violence, extreme gore, demonic slapstick, drug use, profanity)

THE GATEKEEPERS 4 stars. Dror Moreh’s Oscar-nominated documentary finds six former heads of Israel’s counterterrorism agency speaking with striking candor, and with no little regret, about the decisions that backfired, the iron-fisted policies that brought about more violence, more bloodshed, not less. If there’s a way out of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, these men may have the answer. 1 hr. 37 PG-13 (violence, adult themes)

GIMME THE LOOT 3 stars. Adam Leon’s scruffy, scrappy thrift store-budget indie follows a pair of teen taggers around the Bronx and Manhattan as they try to find $500 to pull off a graffiti coup: tagging the New York Mets’ Home Run Apple. Trouble — and the impossible charms of the two leads — ensue. 1 hr. 21 No MPAA rating (profanity, drugs, adult themes)

GINGER & ROSA 3 1/2 stars. Elle Fanning gives a performance of remarkable power and passion — playing a 16-year-old Londoner haunted by images of nuclear holocaust, and by more personal devastation — in Sally Potter’s 1960s coming of age tale. With Alice Englert as Rosa, and Alessandro Nivola and Christine Hendricks as Ginger’s parents. A beautiful, heartbreaking film. 1 hr. 30 R (sex, profanity, adult themes)

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD 2 stars. Bruce Willis, smooth-pated and smirky, is back as John McClane, the wisecracking New York cop, who wings it to Russia to get his estranged son (Jai Courtney) out of a jam — only he doesn’t know his son is a CIA spy. The duo bond over bullets and bombs, but this fifth in the series is, despite all the well-orchestrated mayhem, kind of a dud. 1 hr. 37 R (violence, profanity, adult themes)

THE HOST 2 1/2 stars. Stephenie Meyer’s follow-up to the blockbuster “Twilight” series is a fun, if mildly silly sci-fi romance big on character and light on explosions about an invasion by tiny aliens who burrow into the human body, using it as a host. Opposing them is a ragtag group of survivors led by an eccentric scientist (William Hurt) and his niece (the remarkable Saoirse Ronan), the first person whose personality survives when she’s taken as a host. A two-in-one heroine, she’s embroiled in a love rectangle with two fellow survivors (Max Irons and Jake Abel). 2 hrs. 05 PG-13 (adult situations, some violence, creepy-looking aliens)

IDENTITY THIEF 2 1/2 stars. Jason Bateman is the mark whose identity — and credit line — is appropriated by a plus-size, potty-mouthed con artist, played with a (literal) punch by Melissa McCarthy, in this cheesy comedy. When he uncharacteristically goes after her, an odd-couple slapstick road movie ensues. 1 hr. 52 R (profanity, violence, sex, adult themes)

THE IMPOSSIBLE 3 1/2 stars. A family caught in the unbelievable carnage of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami — unbelievable, but true — with Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and the remarkable young actor Tom Holland. A chilling, but thrilling account of survival, visceral and inspiring. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (violence, profanity, adult themes)

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER 2 1/2 stars. Bryan (“X-Men”) Singer tackles the old fairy tale about a land of human-eating giants and the beanstalk that gets the young hero up there. In this case, to rescue a beautiful princess. Nicholas Hoult and Eleanor Tomlinson are the teenage heroes, Ewan McGregor is a valiant knight, and Stanley Tucci is the trusted royal advisor who turns out to be, well, villainous and vile. 1 hr. 54 PG-13 (slobbering ogres, violence, scares, adult themes)

JURASSIC PARK 3 stars. It’s back, and in 3-D. Steven Spielberg went for scary awe in this 1993 thriller about a theme park where biologically cloned dinosaurs run amok. Parents should think twice about taking their younger children, however: There’s fuel for nightmares here. 2 hrs. 07 PG-13 (dino-violence, body parts, kids in jeopardy)

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE 3 1/2 stars. Abbas Kiarostami ventures to Japan — only the second time the Iranian filmmaker has shot outside his homeland — for this mischievous, melancholy tale about a young prostitute and a learned old professor. It’s not about sex. But it is lovely. 1 hr. 49 No MPAA rating (adult themes)

LORE 3 1/2 stars. Five children, led by a strong-minded teenage girl, trek across Germany in the first days after the fall of the Third Reich. The siblings’ father was a Nazi officer, they have been taught to hate the Jews, and a chance encounter puts those teachings to the test. A fierce and powerful coming-of-age saga, about the trauma of war, about legacy, about collective guilt. 1 hr. 49 No MPAA rating (violence, sex, nudity, adult themes)

NO 3 1/2 stars. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a hot young ad exec in 1988 Chile who joins the media campaign to oust military dictator Augusto Pinochet in this fictionalized piece of reeling, ricocheting history. 1 hr. 58 R (violence, adult themes)

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN 2 1/2 stars. The White House is under siege, but luckily a lone Secret Service agent — a brooding, burly Gerard Butler — is on the loose, sneaking around 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with a headset and some handguns. “Die Hard on the Potomac,” enjoyably tacky, cartoonishly violent. 1 hr. 59 R (violence, profanity, adult themes)

ON THE ROAD 3 stars. A handsome and honorable effort to capture the freewheeling spirit of Jack Kerouac’s classic Beat novel, with Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund as Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, respectively (the Kerouac and Neal Cassady alter-egos), and Kristen Stewart and Kirsten Dunst as the women in their life (when there was time, or need, for them). Walter Salles’ adaptation looks beautiful, but doesn’t cut very deep. 2 hrs. 04 R (sex, nudity, profanity, drugs, adult themes)

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL 2 stars. James Franco, awake and even kind of animated, is the title character — a carnival magician who gets in over his head when he finds himself in a strange and trippy land populated by Munchkins, Tinkers, Quadlings and a trio of criminally over-dressed and over-madeup witches, played by Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. 2 hrs. 10 PG (flying, fanged baboons, intense scares)

PARKER 2 1/2 stars. Jason Statham is Donald E. Westlake’s famous “heister” in Taylor Hackford’s hard-knuckle crime thriller, chasing down a gang of doublecrossers with an assist from Jennifer Lopez. 1 hr. 58 R (violence, profanity, nudity, adult themes)

A PLACE AT THE TABLE 3 1/2 stars. A powerful and alarming documentary about hunger in America. Advocacy journalism at its best, lining up its facts, illustrating the widespread problem with a few trenchant, compelling cases, and offering solutions, too. 1 hr. 24 PG (adult themes)

PROMISED LAND 2 stars. Matt Damon plays a fracking salesman, offering struggling family farmers big bucks to tap their land for natural gas. Despite its strong cast (Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Hal Holbrook) and awards-laden director (Gus Van Sant), this is less a compelling study of characters in conflict (with one another, with themselves) than a preachy, cautionary environmentalist tale. 1 hr. 46 R (profanity, adult themes)

QUARTET 3 stars. Dustin Hoffman makes his directing debut — smartly — with this charming and poignant adaptation of the Ronald Harwood stage play about four old friends in a home for retired musicians. Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly star. 1 hr. 38 PG-13 (adult themes)

THE SAPPHIRES 2 stars. Four Aboriginal girls form a vocal group, find a boozy but loveable manager and head for Vietnam, where they shimmy through a set-list of Motown covers for hordes of appreciative, war-weary GIs. A Down Under “Dreamgirls,” but the feel-good fakeness feels kind of bad. 1 hr. 43 PG-13 (violence, profanity, sex, adult themes)

SIDE EFFECTS 3 1/2 stars. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s tightly coiled psychological thriller — with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s” Rooney Mara, with Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones — would make James M. Cain proud. On one level, a dark take on the culture of pharmaceutical cure-alls, on another, a classic, twisting noir. 1 hr. 46 R (violence, profanity, sex, nudity, drugs, adult themes)

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK 4 stars. A head-spinning wonder of a movie about love, pain, reinvention, rehabilitation and the totemic power of an NFL franchise, with Bradley Cooper as a guy dealing with bipolar disorder and heartbreak, Jennifer Lawrence as a young widow with her own troubles and woe, and with an amazing supporting cast. From director David O. Russell, based on Matthew Quick’s novel. 2 hrs. 02 R (profanity, sex, drugs, violence, adult themes)

SNITCH 2 1/2 stars. Dwayne Johnson stars as a father who goes undercover to expose a drug cartel — to save his college-bound son from serving a mandatory 10 years behind bars — in what is essentially a B-movie action version of an advocacy doc. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws must go! Just as soon as The Rock runs some bad guys over with his truck. 1 hr. 52 PG-13 (violence, profanity, drugs, adult themes)

SPRING BREAKERS 2 stars. Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens get down and dirty — joined by James Franco as a silver-toothed, dreadlocked Florida gansta — in Harmony Korine’s fascinating (and stupid) indie conflation of “Girls Gone Wild” and Al Pacino’s “Scarface.” Booze, boobs and bongs, oh my. 1 hr. 34 R (sex, nudity, drugs, profanity, adult themes)

STAND UP GUYS 2 stars. Al Pacino hambones up a storm as a veteran crook just released from prison and longing to drink and party and wave his hands around in the air. Christopher Walken is his old friend and partner in crime, and Alan Arkin shows up, too, as another former colleague, now in a retirement home. A joy ride in a stolen car ensues. 1 hr. 34 R (profanity, violence, sex, adult themes)

STOKER 3 stars, Chan-wook Park’s English language debut is a visually beautiful and creepy gothic psychokiller about a teenage girl (Mia Wasikowska), her frosty mom (Nicole Kidman) and the mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) who moves in with them. Desire, menace and madness ensue. 1 hr. 52 R (violence, sexual violence, sex, profanity, adult themes)

WARM BODIES 3 stars. A smart, snappy and appropriately gory rom-com-zom, about a sensitive walking dead dude who saves a flesh-and-blood girl from being eaten, and finds himself falling in love with her. The feelings, surprisingly, are reciprocal. Jonathan (“50/50”) Levine directs, adapting the Isaac Marion novel. 1 hr. 37 PG-13 (violence, gore, profanity, adult themes)

THE WE AND THE I 2 stars. A group of Bronx high schoolers act out and experience relationship changes while riding the bus after the final day of the school year. 1 hr. 43 No MPAA rating (profanity, nudity, sexual situations)