New movies this week
The gist: Just the premise of this one is a mindbender: The mob sends people it wants to get rid of back in time 30 years to be killed by a hired gun, but one day they send back the killer's future self. We can't wait to hear how they explain why they didn't just send him to a different gunman. Terminator-style paradoxes abound. R
The cast: Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Pierce Gagnon, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Paul Dano, Noah Segan and Summer Qing.
The buzz: It's hard to get time-travel stories right, but it seems Gordon-Levitt's prosthetic nose is winning critics over. "Good news: Not only is the smart, sexy, sophisticated but still slam-bang sci-fi action-thriller not dead, it's just gotten itself a potent shot in the arm by way of writer-director Rian Johnson," MSN Movies raves.
The gist: It's officially Halloween season, so why not have an animated movie with Adam Sandler as Dracula suffering from an existential crisis after he takes his family to a monster-friendly resort and his daughter gets hit on by a normal human. That is so racist! PG
The cast: Voices of Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Kevin James and David Spade.
The buzz: These quicky cartoon movies full of recognizable celebrity voices don't really seem to have a lot of heart. "A stale overprotective-dad story set within a location that could easily house a more inspired mix of characters and events," Variety calls it.
Won't Back Down
The gist: Feel-good, would-be awards bait about two mothers who join forces to take over a failing inner-city school, despite the best efforts of a school district that seems bent on ensuring all the children are denied an education. Because that's what school administrators do, you know. PG
The cast: Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oscar Isaac, Holly Hunter, Rosie Perez and Emily Alyn Lind.
The buzz: Even with all these Oscar nominees, it gets a solid D. "The hot-button issue of public school reform gets unsubtle treatment in this pedestrian and insultingly tendentious drama," the Hollywood Reporter writes.
The Queen of Versailles
The gist: A documentary about a billionaire couple — David and Jackie Siegel, who once were building the largest house in the U.S. near Orlando — who prosper with a time-share rental company, then fall hard and fast when the housing bubble bursts. They seem clueless how to deal with losing money, while the rest of us cackle gleefully at their misfortune. PG
The cast: The Siegels and a whole bunch of collection agents.
The buzz: This doc is so well-made, by the end you actually may feel for them. "The Queen of Versailles combines the voyeuristic thrills of reality TV with the soul-revealing artistry of great portraiture and the head-shaking revelations of solid investigative reporting," the Philadelphia Inquirer says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org