What Just Happened?
The gist: Somewhere along the line, Hollywood confused our fascination with celebrity for fascination with Hollywood nuts and bolts, as a movie producer juggles all sorts of nonsense. Really, we don't care that much. R
Starring: Robert De Niro, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, Robin Wright Penn, John Turturro, Michael Wincott, Bruce Willis and Sean Penn.
The buzz: Mixed reviews prevail, but Rolling Stone sums it up best: "Think of it as old Hollywood's version of Entourage, an insider's take on the greed and vanity that make Tinseltown tick."
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
The gist: The mediocre first one did well enough for a sequel, apparently. Yay. But one of Bernie Mac's last performances. PG
Starring: Voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric the Entertainer, Andy Richter and Bernie Mac.
The buzz: Stunningly average animated fare. "Lively and quite funny without being obnoxious, this follow-up smoothly mixes the original's New York Zoo escapees with a number of engaging new characters," Variety reports.
The gist: Bernie Mac's last movie, this one pairs him with Sammy J. as singing partners from back in the day who reunite for a tribute concert. R
Starring: Mac, Samuel L. Jackson, Sean Hayes, Sharon Leal, Jennifer Coolidge, Isaac Hayes Affion Crockett, and John Legend.
The buzz: "This contemporary riff on The Sunshine Boys generally manages to succeed anyway, thanks to the entertaining performances by Mac and co-star Samuel L. Jackson and its generous doses of raucous humor and sweet soul music," the Hollywood Reporter says.
The gist: Two doofuses have to perform community service by mentoring at-risk kids. Isn't pairing them with these two putting them more at risk? R
Starring: Seann William Scott, Paul Rudd, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jane Lynch, Bobb'e J. Thompson and Elizabeth Banks.
The buzz: Vulgar. And hilarious. "The fun of Role Models is that it's a high-concept movie executed with speed and finesse and the kind of brusquely tossed-off obscene banter that can get you laughing before you know what hit you," Entertainment Weekly says.
Rachel Getting Married
The gist: A woman comes home for her sister's wedding and lights a match to the family powder keg. We don't need to go to the movies to see this. R
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin, Anna Deavere Smith and Debra Winger.
The buzz: You've seen the formula before, but this one works well. "It's a small movie, and in some ways a very sad one, but it has an undeniable and authentic vitality, an exuberance of spirit, that feels welcome and rare," the New York Times says.
The gist: A perenially upbeat teacher's outlook is tested by a series of encounters and misfortunes. Hey, suddenly we're in the mood to feel optimistic about things! R
Starring: Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Andrea Riseborough, Samuel Roukin, Sinead Matthews, Kate O'Flynn, Sarah Niles and Eddie Marsan.
The buzz: It'll make you feel like things aren't all that bad, most everyone says. "It is that rare film that is equal parts entertaining, life-affirming and thought-provoking," USA Today gushes.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org