1. Arts & Entertainment

What's in theaters Labor Day weekend: 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' 'Patti Cake$'

Australian actor Danielle Macdonald delivers a breakout performance in Patti Cake$, a hip-hop Cinderella story.
Published Aug. 30, 2017


Hollywood takes a break over Labor Day weekend, without a single new wide release in store.

There's an oldie, though, and it's a goodie.

Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind returns for a 40th anniversary re-issue at AMC Theaters nationwide. The digitally remastered version will be available Sept. 19 on HD Blu-ray, in case you have other holiday plans.


A bravura title performance by Danielle Macdonald lifts this hip-hop Cinderella story above its stacked-deck mechanics. Hailing from Australia, Macdonald nails the accent and attitude of Patricia Dombrowski, a plump, white Jersey girl literally dreaming of rap stardom under the moniker Patti Cake$ (R).

Writer-director Geremy Jasper shows us those dreams, part of his on-the-nose approach to Patti's uphill fight for respect. In addition to constant fat shaming, she endures a selfish, alcoholic mother (comedian Bridget Everett playing it straight), a dying grandmother (Cathy Moriarty) and rejection of her rhymes. There's a big hip-hop contest on the horizon, naturally.

Yet for every predictable move Jasper's screenplay makes, Macdonald creates a surprising moment, some small gesture that reveals. She's a duckling turned swan long before Jasper allows Patti a makeover, a role and actor you can't help but love.

There's solid support from Siddharth Dhananjay as Patti's platonic co-writer and Mamoudou Athie as a sullen, pierced enigma bringing beats to their game. Patti Cake$ tosses aside all authenticity when grandma gets in the game while sustaining its shaggy charm to a fairy tale finale. It's a movie constantly playing cheap with viewers not minding since it's just enough fun. B-


As an actor, Lake Bell could be confused with plenty of rom-com starlets, talented but not especially so. But as a filmmaker, Bell again makes her case for consideration as one of our finest, funniest female voices with I Do . . . Until I Don't (R), an ensemble comedy of matrimonial errors.

Bell wrote, directed and co-stars as Alice, who volunteers her dull marriage to Noah (Ed Helms) for research by documentary filmmaker Vivian (Dolly Wells). Vivian's premise that marriage should be a renewable seven-year contract sounds good to Alice.

The idea sounds even better to Cybil (Mary Steenburgen), icily married to Harvey (Paul Reiser), a fussbudget in perpetual midlife crisis. Like everyone except Alice and Noah, they're being paid to join Vivian's documentary in exchange for salacious stuff.

Complications arise when Alice's bohemian sister (Amber Heard) and husband (Wyatt Cenac) catch Vivian's attention. They can add the adventurous sex angle her documentary needs, which sounds good to Noah. Each crisis and solution drops into play with sitcom precision but also with wicked wit. Bell is a generous writer, not keeping juicy lines to herself. I Do . . . Until I Don't fairly drips with them. B (Tampa Theatre)


Catch the world premiere Friday at Tampa Theatre of a horror flick produced around Tampa Bay.

I Dared You! Truth or Dare 5 continues the story of Chainsaw Dax (co-director Scott Tepperman), a disfigured madman seeking revenge on the detective (Joel C. Wynkoop) who put him away. You probably don't need to watch Parts 1-4 to catch up.

Tepperman and writer/co-director Tim Ritter will lead a Q&A session after the 10:30 p.m. screening. $11 .

In theaters: our Top 5

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Good Time: Robert Pattinson, above, eclipses Twilight in a crackling crime thriller.

2 Dunkirk: Christopher Nolan's WWII masterpiece will be chased all awards season.

3 Logan Lucky: Channing Tatum and Adam Driver play dumber than two bags of hammers.

4 Wind River: Wildlife tracker (Jeremy Renner) hunts a killer on a Wyoming reservation.

5 Detroit: Kathryn Bigelow traces the 1967 disturbance in Motown.


(Dates subject to change)

Sept. 8: It; Home Again; 9/11

Sept. 15: American Assassin; Brad's Status; Mother!; All I See Is You

Sept. 22: Kingsmen: The Golden Circle; Battle of the Sexes; The LEGO Ninjago Movie; Stronger; The Trip to Spain

Sept. 29: American Made; Flatliners; Lucky

Oct. 6: Blade Runner: 2049; The Florida Project; My Little Pony: The Movie


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