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“Baggage Claim” — This middling, retrograde African-American rom-com’s greatest strength is leading lady Paula Patton. While the lovely Patton deserves better, at least the movie doesn’t have Tyler Perry’s sticky fingerprints on it. Interestingly, this was written and directed by David E. Talbert who penned the 2003 novel it’s based on (C).
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” — Candy-colored, mildly subversive CGI/3-D ‘toon sequel to the 2010 hit is alternately witty and psychedelic-trippy in equal measure. As much goofy fun for adults as it will be for even the tiniest rugrats (B).
“Rush” — Possibly the best movie ever directed by eclectic Oscar winner Ron Howard. Unquestionably the best movie ever made about auto racing. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl (both excellent) play real-life Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, and the neutral/objective POV feels as sophisticated/European as the film’s casual (and frequent) nudity (A).
New on DVD:
“The Croods” — Kids will dig the bright colors and silly humor; grown-ups will be amused by the spot-on vocal casting (Nicolas Cage as a Neanderthal! Emma Stone as a rebellious teenager!). On the (animation) evolutionary food chain, “The Croods” are one part “Flinstones,” one part “Ice Age” and all parts fun (B).
“This is the End” — It’s the end of the world, and a group of spoiled Hollywood brat/actors (including Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill) use the occasion to get high, talk trash and tie up some loose ends, not necessarily in that order. Co-directed and written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this intermittently inspired dark comedy runs out of steam midway through, but rallies just in time for a suitably apocalyptic ending (B).