KEY: Four stars: superior. Three stars: good. Two stars: average. One star: poor. D (drug use), L (language), N (nudity), S (sexual situations, references), V (violence). Ratings by Dann Gire, Daily Herald Film Critic, unless otherwise noted.
"Blue Jasmine" -- Jasmine loses her husband and fortune and moves in with her working-class sister (Sally Hawkins). Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine perfectly as a pretentious woman in denial about her situation, echoing Blanche DuBois in this tragedy directed by Woody Allen. (PG-13) L, S. 98 minutes. . . . 1/2
"The Conjuring" -- James Wan combines horror classics "The Exorcist" and "The Amityville Horror," along with SyFy's "Ghost Hunters" in this scary, old-school tale. This allegedly true story pits real-life ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) against a haunted house and demonic possession in 1971. With Glencoe native Lili Taylor. (R) V. 112 minutes. . . .
"Despicable Me 2" -- The Minions take over this fast, but dumbed- down sequel with their popular slapstick shtick. Former villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) helps secret agent Lucy (Kristen Wiig) search for a stolen formula while overprotecting his adopted daughters from boys. (PG) 98 minutes. . . .
"Drinking Buddies" -- A Chicago-shot romance about two couples who need new partners. Directed by Joe Swanberg with keen observations in a virtually plotless study of flawed, ambiguous young people. Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston star. At the Century Centre in Chicago. (R) L. 90 minutes. . . .
"Fruitvale Station" -- Empathetic performances are the core of this tragic movie, based on the death of 22-year-old Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan). With Octavia Spencer. Reviewed by Jake Coyle, Associated Press. (R) D, L, V. 90 minutes. . . . 1/2
"The Heat" -- Sandra Bullock and Plainfield's Melissa McCarthy are perfect foils as a reserved FBI agent and a foul-mouthed, erratic Boston police officer who team up to find a drug dealer. Paul Feig's buddy action movie starts out cliched but turns up "The Heat" once Bullock and McCarthy hit their comedic groove. With "SNL" alum Jane Curtin. (R) L, S, V. 117 minutes. . . .
"Spectacular Now" -- James Ponsoldt directs a refreshing and surprising teen romance movie about popular Sutter (Miles Teller, channeling a young Vince Vaughn) and bashful Aimee (Shailene Woodley) falling for each other. Reviewed by Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press. (R) L, S. 95 minutes. . . . 1/2
"2 Guns" -- Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg elevate this convoluted action comedy with great chemistry. They play undercover agents battling drug dealers and corrupt officials. Their comic barbs and comebacks make up for the all-too-often violence. (R) N, L, V. 109 minutes. . . .
"The Way, Way Back" -- This humorous and charming coming-of-age story features way, way good performances (especially from young actor Liam James) that make Jim Rash and Nat Faxon's co-directorial debut a relatable and nostalgic delight. With Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell and Toni Collette. (PG-13) D, L, S. 103 minutes. . . . 1/2
"We're the Millers" -- Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston and the rest of the cast somehow make this cliched comedy work. Sudeikis plays a drug dealer who recruits a stripper (Aniston), a runaway girl (Emma Roberts) and his neighbor (Will Poulter) to pose as his fake family to smuggle drugs in an RV from Mexico. (R) D, L, N, S. 110 minutes. . . .
"The World's End" -- Hilarity ensues when a Peter Pan Brit (co- writer Simon Pegg) takes four pals back to re-create their "pub crawl" along the Miracle Mile at their university. Things aren't quite as the nostalgic guys remember them. Fun surprises from director Edgar "Shaun of the Dead" Wright. (R) L, S. 109 minutes. . . . 1/2
"I Give It a Year" -- Cliched but occasionally funny romcom about two couples (one married) who should switch partners if they want to be with Mr. and Miss Right. Rose Byrne, Rafe Spall, Anna Faris and Simon Baker star. At the Wilmette Theatre. (R) L, N, S. 97 minutes. . .
"Jobs" -- You'd think the story of one of the most influential figures would be more than a generic underdog made-for-cable movie. Ashton Kutcher plays Steve Jobs as this formulaic drama documents the Apple founder's rise. (PG-13) D, L. 122 minutes. . .
"Kick-Ass 2" -- This on-screen comic book has its titular hero (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) join a team of masked vigilantes called Justice Forever. Chloe Grace Moretz steals the show again as the manic Hit Girl, but the movie tries to stuff a realistic message into its cartoon characters' speech bubbles. With Jim Carrey. Reviewed by Riley Simpson. (R) L, N, S, V. 103 minutes. . .
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" -- This serious and sincere drama about the progression of Civil Rights witnessed by a longtime White House butler (Forest Whitaker) is spoiled by the distracting casting of the presidents he serves. Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan? Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower? Ha! (PG-13) L, S, V. 132 minutes. . . 1/2
"Man of Steel" -- Zack Snyder's dour and humorlessly dark reboot of the Superman myth stars Brit actor Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, who comes out of hiding to fight General Zod (Chicago's Michael Shannon). Filmed in part in the suburbs. Michael Bay couldn't have directed this noisy spectacular action picture better. (PG-13) L, V. 148 minutes. . .
"Monsters University" -- Where's Boo? This Pixar prequel may be cute, but it's got nothing on the emotional 2001 "Monsters, Inc." Mike and Sully (voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman) don't start out seeing eye to eye as scare students at Monsters University. Helen Mirren and Steve Buscemi also lend their voices. (G) 110 minutes. . . 1/2
"Pacific Rim" -- Maybe 10-year-olds will like Guillermo del Toro's robot-vs-monster alien epic where human pilots (Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi and Idris Elba) show as much emotion as their mechanical counterparts. Computer-generated fight scenes and destruction abound. With Charlie Day. (PG-13) L, V. 131 minutes. . .
"Planes" -- Kids should love the bright planes and highflying 3- D action of this Disney animation about a crop duster plane (voiced by Dane Cook) competing in an international race. Made of spare parts from Disney's "Car" films, "Top Gun" and "Vertigo." (PG) 92 minutes. . .
"Red 2" -- Devoid of the wit of the 2010 "Red," this sequel aims less to please its AARP audience and more to show off big explosions and action. Bruce Willis returns as Frank, a retired agent who tracks down a Cold War-era nuclear device. With John Malkovich and Helen Mirren. (PG-13) D, L, V. 116 minutes. . .
"Smurfs 2" -- Evil sorcerer Gargamel (Hank Azaria) tries to exploit insecure Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) to get the Smurfs' secret formula. Could it be the same kid-movie formula director Raja Gosnell used for this churned-out sequel? Reviewed by Justin Lowe of the Hollywood Reporter. (PG) 105 minutes. . .
"Turbo" -- A freak accident turns a garden snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) into a superfast competitor in the Indy 500. Is this really an underdog (read: undersnail) story or does it advocate juicing for the weak? Reviewed by Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter. (PG) 96 minutes. . .
"The Wolverine" -- Hugh Jackman returns as the buffed-up Marvel hero to fight ninjas and mobsters in modern-day Japan. This one finally challenges Jackman to express pain and weakness as the clawed, regenerating Wolverine. Reviewed by Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press. (PG-13) L, S, V. 126 minutes. . . 1/2
"World War Z" -- A zombie movie without teeth. Brad Pitt stars as a retired U.N. investigator who travels the world looking for a cure to stop the zombie apocalypse. Marc Forster's exciting action flick whiffs on horror and characterization. (PG-13) V. 116 minutes. . . 1/2
"You're Next" -- Darkly comic horror tale about a family dinner ruined by killers wearing animal masks. Reviewed by John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter. (R) L, N, S, V. 94 minutes. . . 1/2
"Elysium" -- Neil "District 9" Blomkamp underwhelms on the story and overstuffs this futuristic Jason Bourne thriller with bloated action and effects. Matt Damon plays Max, a lowly worker on the desolate Earth in 2154 who plans to invade Elysium, the satellite where the wealthy have retreated. With Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. (R) L, V. 109 minutes. . 1/2
"Grown Ups 2" -- Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and David Spade star in this childish and vulgar sequel to the childish and vulgar original "Grown Ups" from 2010. Reviewed by John DeFore of the Hollywood Reporter. (PG-13) L, N, S. 101 minutes. . 1/2
"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" -- Demigod Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and his friends set out into the Bermuda Triangle to find the Golden Fleece. A few funny moments from Stanley Tucci and Nathan Fillion highlight this slog of a sequel. Reviewed by Jen Chaney, Washington Post. (PG) 106 minutes. .
"Chennai Express" -- Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) takes his grandfather's ashes from Mumbai to the holy waters of Rameshwaram, falling in love along the way in this action-comedy in Hindi. (NR) 141 minutes.
"Madras Cafe" -- Shoojit Sircar directs a political spy thriller, set against the backdrop of Sri Lankan Civil War of the 1990s. In Hindi with subtitles. (NR) 135 minutes.
"Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Dobaara" -- This sequel to the 2010 Bollywood crime drama sees up-and-coming don Shoaib Khan (Akshay Kumar) fend off rivals to his new criminal empire. In Hindi. (NR) 160 minutes.
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