Two new movies feature characters whose lives change when they try on mysterious shoes. A third film treads a well-worn path to mediocrity.
Disney has been translating its animated classics into live-action epics for years, with mixed success. This effort, directed by Kenneth Branagh, is the best update yet. About a Boy screenwriter Chris Weitz has kept the most charming elements of Disney’s 1950s damsel-in-distress scenario and transformed the central character into a strong-willed young woman determined to overcome her dismal plight at the hands of a truly wicked stepmother ( Cate Blanchett). The prince (Richard Madden) is charming indeed — but this Cinderella is no pushover for a sexy smile and a pair of nifty boots.
The first 40 minutes of this dramatic fantasy — about a hapless New York shoemaker ( Adam Sandler) who discovers he can magically become his customers simply by trying on their shoes — plays like an above-average Twilight Zone episode. Writer/director Thomas McCarthy, whose credits include the instant classics Up, Win Win and The Station Agent, loses his way after that, however, with the story devolving into a rant against urban development. Still, Sandler once again proves he’s up to handling substantial acting roles.
Run All Night
Liam Neeson’s got a gun. His son is threatened by the mob. Any questions? FULL REVIEW
Still out there:
50 Shades of Grey
We’re not supposed to laugh out loud at a movie that features beautiful young people having kinky sex, right? Yet that’s precisely what happens almost from the moment we’re introduced to billionaire bondage boy Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and his oh-so-willing submissive partner (Dakota Johnson).
Director Clint Eastwood’s film about Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history, barrels along like a Humvee across the desert, hitting its targets with deadly accuracy before exploding with unexpected emotional power. (FULL REVIEW)
Kingsman: The Secret Service
This stylish British spy adventure focuses on the exploits of a group of young and impossibly attractive recruits. It’s a blockbuster adaptation of a graphic novel, seasoned by veterans Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill and, as a lisping villain, Samuel L. Jackson.
Maps to the Stars
Despite a great cast — including Julianne Moore, John Cusack and Robert Pattinson — director David Cronenberg’s satire of Hollywood is as phony as the culture he attempts to skewer. ( FULL REVIEW)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
In this sequel the original stars (including Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy) prove to be just as delightful the second time around. Regrettably, the script adds precious little to the first installment. Richard Gere is charming as a new guest, but young Dev Patel wins Actor We’d Most Like to Evict.
>> ‘The Graduate’ — and Other Essential Boomer Movies
Two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson, who apparently had nothing better to do one weekend, costars with Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco (brother of James) in this manic, often coarse comedy about three small businessmen on an ill-fated trip to Europe.
New on DVD, Blu-Ray and Video on Demand:
The Alvin Show
If you remember this short-lived 1960s prime-time animated series as fondly as we do, the DVD release will have you yelling, “Al- VINNNN!”
The Sound of Music 50th Anniversary Edition
What? You don’t own this one yet? Already it’s one of our favorite things!
Also of Interest
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