Ice Age: Collision Course
⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG for rude humor and action peril.
“Ice Age: Collision Course,” the fifth installment in the 14-year-long saga of animated prehistoric animals, will, with any luck, also be the last. Lazy, scattershot and excruciatingly unfunny, the movie is a hazard to the very young, who might come away with the erroneous impression that movies don’t get any better than this. We get it: It’s summertime and the kids need to be entertained. But take them to see “Finding Dory” a second — or even third — time. If there’s a bright spot, it’s the animation. It isn’t enough, though. Since Pixar upped the animation game, children’s entertainment is now expected to delight grown-ups, too. That may seem like a tall order, but this franchise has done it before. It just feels like we haven’t seen it since the first Ice Age.
Stephanie Merry, Washington Post
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for language, sexual references, drug use.
Theater: Lagoon, Mall of America, Southdale.
This is genius counterprogramming against the other massive media story of the week — the Republican National Convention. This outlandish, flamboyant British trifle is like a glass of Champagne directly to the face of these dog days of a very trying summer. It’s based on the cult BBC series, a pointed satire of the women who rule the worlds of PR and fashion. We could all use a dose of escapism, and “Ab Fab” is a big, bright and viciously bold celebration of funny, flawed women, and the friendship that sustains them.
Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for terror, violence, drug reference, strong language.
For a movie that relies so heavily on a single, not especially groundbreaking visual effect — now you see the boogeyman, now you don’t — “Lights Out” is crazy scary. The film’s central conceit of a mysterious, malevolent figure who appears only when the lights are out, and who disappears with the flip of a light switch, is enormously, even irrationally, effective. “Lights Out” sounds, on paper, fairly preposterous: A rebellious young woman and her dutiful little brother are terrorized by a woman — who may be dead. Called Diana, she’s a (possibly imaginary) friend of their mentally unstable mother (Maria Bello), whose refusal to take her medication has been making Diana’s appearances increasingly frequent and terrifying. In a brisk 81 minutes, the film spins this shivery campfire yarn with such skill and verve that the only thing that matters is making it to the final “Boo!”
Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post
Microbe & Gasoline
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for sexual content. In French with English subtitles.
“Let’s face it. We’re not exactly normal: you the hopeless romantic and me the grease monkey,” declares Theo (Théophile Baquet), the scruffier of two likable adolescent misfits who gallivant around France in a homemade vehicle. That souped-up car, constructed from junk that includes a discarded carburetor that Theo repairs, is the real star of Michel Gondry’s good-natured coming-of-age road movie, “Microbe & Gasoline.” Gasoline is the nickname of Theo, a transfer student and mechanical whiz who conceives the notion that he and his classmate, Daniel (Ange Dargent), nicknamed Microbe, for his small size, can escape their oppressive families. Both are social outsiders. Time and again, “Microbe & Gasoline” risks cuteness without going overboard. Too easily taken for granted, its accomplishment is its ability to gaze steadily with warmth but minimal sentimentality at the world through unjaded 14-year-old eyes.
STEPHEN HOLDEN, New York Times
Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party
⋆ out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for some violence and thematic elements.
For a movie that purports to blow the lid off a massive historical erasure, “Hillary’s America” is almost staggeringly unoriginal: Visit any right-wing website or tune into Fox News for an hour and you’ll hear the same talking points rehearsed ad nauseam. What distinguishes the movie is its style. Director Dinesh D’Souza presents himself as a seeker of truth, a soldier in the war against the dominant left-wing narrative. Skeptical? “Hillary’s America” isn’t designed to stand up to skepticism. It’s not intended to convince or to provoke thought, but to confirm the biases its intended audience holds. If you don’t reflexively hiss at the mention of Saul Alinsky, if you blanch at the notion that Hillary Clinton allowed four men to die in Benghazi because “she couldn’t figure out how to make a buck” off saving them, then “Hillary’s America” is not for you.
Sam Adams, The Wrap