BEFORE MIDNIGHT (R). The thIrd of Richard Linklater's films tracing the ups and downs of a relationship finds Celine and Jesse, still together nine years after we last saw them in Paris, at the end of a vacation in Greece, trying to control the flow of experience, to find meaning and to keep a terrible and nameless anxiety at bay. The conversational flow seems slightly forced this time around. Emotions rise as suddenly as subjects change. It doesn't feel genuine. With Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke. HH (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 6/19). 1:48.
DESPICABLE ME 2 (PG).There's enough here for a nice little movie. El Macho (Benjamin Bratt) is plotting his usual world domination thing when a reformed Gru (Steve Carell) is recruited to assist his capture by the Anti-Villain League led by Silas Ramsbottom (big laugh for the kiddies there). "Despicable Me 2" gains considerably from Kristen Wiig's sing-song neuroses as AVL agent Lucy Wilde. The logical extension of Gru's rehabilitation is finding someone who'll make him a better man, and a partner for parenthood he never expected. Wiig and Carell would make a terrific rom-com coupling in the flesh but their voices will have to suffice for now. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times --7/4). 1:38.
FRUITVALE STATION (R). Based on a true story, this drama traces the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old African-American who was headed home with friends when they were detained by Oakland transit cops, responding to reports of a fight on a train. A gun goes off and Grant is mortally wounded by a white officer, claiming he intended to use a Taser and mistakenly grabbed his pistol.
GROWN UPS 2 (PG-13). Basically, the sequel to the hit "Grown Ups" finds our Hollywood pal Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler), his wife (Salma Hayek) and brood moved back to his home town. That's where childhood pal Eric (Kevin James) runs a body shop, Kurt (Chris Rock) is a cable guy, and Marcus (David Spade) has just learned he's a deadbeat dad. Another pointless romp through Sandlerland -- where the women are buxom, the kids have catch phrases and the jokes are below average. H (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 7/12). 1:41.
RED 2 (PG-13)This action comedy sequel about retired government assassins features at its center a love triangle involving Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Mary Louise Parker. This sequel goes down easily -- with a knowing twinkle in everyone's eyes. With Helen Mirren, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox, David Thewlis. HH1/2 (Moore, McClatchy Tribune News Service -- 7/23). 1:48.
THE CONJURING (R). A family is moving into a fixer-upper farmhouse that they'll discover is possessed. A throwback to old-school spine tingling, "The Conjuring" gets under your skin, where the goosebumps are. Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga. HH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 7/19). 1:52.
THE HEAT (R). Sandra Bullock plays a prissy, know-it-all, overly coiffed F.B.I. agent who is sent to Boston to prepare for a promotion. While there, she runs afoul of a foul-mouthed, slovenly Boston detective, played by Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy's teaming with Oscar winner Bullock is perfect casting for an underwhelming script that in the ‘70s might have been cast with men and played seriously on TV. It's all erratic fun and games. HH 1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 7/1).
THE SMURFS 2 (PG). Papa Smurf and his motley "B team" head to Paris to thwart a scheme by a dastardly magician who wants the magic formula for Smurf Essence. Filled with Smurf wholesomeness, Smurf puns and post-Smurf messages, "The Smurfs 2" still sucks Smurfberries. H (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 7/31). 1:38.
THE WAY, WAY BACK (PG-13). A water park becomes the unlikely location for a gawky youth's coming into his own over the course of a summer. The jokes are often double-edged, the performances always spot-on. You'll see more inventive movies this year but few more endearing. With Liam Grace, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry. HHH1/2 (Persall, Tampa Bay Times -- 7/19). 1:43.
THE WOLVERINE (PG-13). Hugh Jackman is back as Logan, this time on a fateful mission in Japan. A fairly satisfying if not stellar installment in the saga of the famous mutant hero that Jackman's been playing since 2000. HH1/2 (Noveck, Associated Press -- 7/26). 2:06.
TURBO (PG). An auto-racing obsessed garden snail is determined to escape his colony of tomato-munchers and race against the big guys. Think "Cars" with snails. While little children may be enchanted by this gastropod that could, adults will be more sorely tested. HH (Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service -- 7/17). 1:35.
TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM (PG-13). Director Morgan Neville has put together a breezy, poignant and ultimately powerful documentary about background singers -- Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill -- terrific talents who finally get a well-deserved turn in the spotlight. HHH (Jones, Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- 7/11). 1:30.
2 GUNS (R). Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington play a naval intelligence officer and a DEA agent, respectively, who are investigating each other, in the belief that each is stealing money from the mob. When they discover they've been set up -- they have, in fact, inadvertently ripped off the CIA -- they have to find a way to return the money.
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