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THE CROODS: A NEW AGE

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In prehistoric times, Grug Crood (the voice of Nicolas Cage) and his family go in search of a better place to live. Leaving their cave, they journey to a land beyond a great wall. This paradise is lush, has plentiful food and something unexpected: the evolved Bettermans. Grug feels threatened by the modern family and their tree house with advanced inventions. A reluctant friendship develops and grows stronger when a menacing force outside their safe habitat becomes a problem. The future is at stake. Fans of 2013's "The Croods" won't be disappointed with this fun journey. First-time feature film director Joel Crawford (TV short "Trolls Holiday") finds a comfortable mix of action and humor within visually stunning animation. Children will be amused, but a couple of scary moments may frighten smaller kids. There's not much for adults beyond a harmless tongue-in-cheek joke or two (one involving a toilet). A marvelous voice cast brings the characters to life.

FREAKY

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School bullies are the least of Millie's (Kathryn Newton) problems when she comes face-to-face with serial killer The Butcher (Vince Vaughn). During the confrontation, the pair magically swap bodies thanks to an ancient dagger in the maniac's possession. Now in the psychopath's body, Millie discovers she only has 24 hours before the switch becomes permanent. After convincing her friends Nyla (Celeste O’Connor), Joshua (Misha Osherovich) and object of her love Booker (Uriah Shelton) of the dire situation, they set out to stop The Butcher and get her female form back before he piles up new victims at Blissfield High. Chills and laughs collide in this fresh take on body-swapping. Although an uncomfortable mix at times, director/co-writer (along with Michael Kennedy) Christopher Landon largely succeeds at blending horror and humor. The son of actor Michael Landon, he honed his directorial skills most recently on "Happy Death Day" and "Happy Death Day 2U" and

LET HIM GO

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A few years after the tragic death of their son, retired sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) face another change in life. Daughter-in-law Lorna (Kayli Carter) remarries and takes their only grandson away from them. The Blackledges leave their Montana ranch and head for the Dakotas to find their grandchild, who now resides with controlling matriarch Blanche Weboy (Lesley Manville) and her vicious clan. After the Weboys refuse to let mother and child go, George and Margaret prepare for a deadly confrontation. Striking emotional drama and a powerful cast highlight this intense modern western. Based on Larry Watson's novel of the same name, director/screenwriter Thomas Bezucha ("The Family Stone") has created an imposing portrayal of family, loss and determination. It follows the structure of "High Noon": character-driven, with the bulk of action at the end. The deliberate slow-pacing allows the main characters to develop whi

THE WAR WITH GRANDPA

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Widowed Ed (Robert De Niro) moves in with daughter Sally (Uma Thurman) and son-in-law Arthur (Rob Riggle). While granddaughters Jennifer (Poppy Gagnon) and Mia (Laura Marano) are delighted, grandson Peter (Oakes Fegley) must give up his bedroom to grandpa. Relegated to the creepy attic for living quarters, he wants his room back. With neither side willing to budge, the battle for the bedroom begins. Humor, sight gags and Robert De Niro keep this family comedy moving along. Based on Robert Kimmel Smith's novel of the same name, the screenplay by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember dives quickly into "Home Alone" territory. The pranks come fast and furious, with many being malicious. Director Tim Hill ("Hop") does manage to lighten things up around the mayhem while delivering a heartfelt message about relationships. As usual, Robert De Niro is the main attraction. But Oakes Fegley (2016's "Pete's Dragon") is an impressive match for the iconic star. Their

ON THE ROCKS

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Author Laura (Rashida Jones), struggling with writer's block on the next promised book, begins to suspect there's trouble in her marriage. While she stays home taking care of two young daughters, husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) is off on many trips with employee Fiona (Jessica Henwick) trying to make his business succeed. Little things, like late nights at the office, lead Laura to fear infidelity. She turns to her retired art dealer father, the debonair playboy Felix (Bill Murray), for advice and help. Together, they set out to find clues and end up bonding. Director/writer Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation") takes us on an enjoyable lightweight romp. Rashida Jones (TV's "Angie Tribeca") carries the lead well as a distraught woman, but it's Bill Murray who runs away with this film. At age 70, the iconic star is still charismatic in his own familiar way. The scenes he's not in are less satisfying. This is not the fault of the cast surrounding him.

KAJILLIONAIRE

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Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) has spent her entire life learning to scam with her con artist parents Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger). Robbing post office boxes and other low-level illegal efforts highlight their meager existence. With past rent due on their dilapidated office building dwelling, the threesome hit upon a travel insurance scheme. During the trip, they meet the charming Melanie (Gina Rodriguez). Eager to change her lifestyle, she joins the grifters in thieving endeavors. The lives of all involved are affected. Director/writer Miranda July ("Me and You and Everyone We Know") paints a quirky portrait of human foibles and desires. While too slow going at times, the character-driven plot gets a huge boost from some fine performances. Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Gina Rodriguez (TV's "Jane the Virgin") are award-worthy indeed. But it's Evan Rachel Wood who is the main attraction. In a subtle turn, she draws focus to Old Dolio

MULAN (2020)

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When the Emperor of China (Jet Li) is threatened by Northern invaders, a decree is issued that one man per family must join the Imperial Army to defend the country. Courageous Mulan (Yifei Liu), eldest daughter of ailing honored warrior Zhou (Tzi Ma), disguises herself as a man and joins the army in his place. It will test her spirit and determination to help defeat the ruthless forces of Böri Khan (Jason Scott Lee), out to avenge his father's death, and his ally - the powerful witch Xianniang (Gong Li).  This entertaining epic adventure is visually stunning. Yet another Disney animated feature gets the live-action treatment and the result is one of their best efforts in recent years. Director Niki Caro ("Whale Rider") masterfully guides a huge international, primarily Asian, cast through this grand saga. Yifei Liu is magnificent as the beautiful and fearless heroine. Besides the supporting players mentioned above, Rosalind Chao and Xana Tang portray Mulan's mother an

THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD

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On stage, David Copperfield (Dev Patel) recounts his life from birth to aspirations of becoming a writer. His carefree countryside youth with his widowed mother Clara (Morfydd Clark) changes after she marries the cruel Mr. Murdstone (Darren Boyd). The new stepfather beats him and eventually sends the boy to work in his London bottle factory. Bad working conditions and news of his mother's death send the young Copperfield escaping back to the country. Living with his wealthy Aunt Betsey (Tilda Swinton) and eccentric distant relative Mr. Dick (Hugh Laurie), life improves. But there are many ups and downs before his dream can be realized. Charles Dickens' novel gets a refreshing cinematic revamp in this lively period piece. Director/writer Armando Iannucci ("The Death of Stalin" and TV documentary "Armando's Tale of Charles Dickens"), with screenplay help from Simon Blackwell, manages to satisfyingly condense the lengthy book. The essence of Copperfield rem

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

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Ivan (the voice of Sam Rockwell), a silverback gorilla, is the main attraction at the Big Top Mall. With a circus-like atmosphere, owner Mack (Bryan Cranston) and his small menagerie of animals entertain a shrinking audience. Looking to boost crowds and stay open, Mack buys baby elephant Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince). Now out of the spotlight, Ivan ponders his past and future. Among those helping him through this new phase of life are aging elephant Stella (the voice of Angelina Jolie), Bob the dog (voiced by Danny DeVito) and Julia (Ariana Greenblatt), the young daughter of mall employee George (Ramon Rodriguez). CGI talking animals, a cute kid, and ringmaster Bryan Cranston keep things moving along in this entertaining diversion. Based on Katherine Applegate's novel of the same name, the story is a fantasy version of real-life gorilla Ivan - who gained fame for his paintings. Director Thea Sharrock ("Me Before You"), working from Mike White's (who also provides

THE SECRET: DARE TO DREAM

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Raising three children in Louisiana, widow Miranda Wells (Katie Holmes) struggles to make ends meet while dating her boss/boyfriend Tucker (Jerry O'Connell). A destructive storm brings new problems and helpful stranger Bray (Josh Lucas) into her life. Things begin to change for the better, but the new arrival with his positive attitude has a secret that could change everything. This inspirational family drama is engaging - even without action and violence. Based on, or more inspired by, Rhonda Byrne's 2006 bestselling self-help book "The Secret", the feel-good film is