The Upside

A movie about a wealthy but depressed quadriplegic who hires a convict-turned-caregiver should be funny. What this movie presupposes is ... it isn’t?

“AQUAMAN” (PG-13) 2.5 STARS

Though this has enough cool visuals, huge-scale battle sequences and glimmers of talent from some of its stars to work as a somewhat satisfying comic book movie, it never grabs the audience like the best Marvel movies do. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language. 143 min. [PV, RF]

“BUMBLEBEE” (PG-13) 3 STARS



One of the sweetest and best-made films of the holiday season turns out to be about a Hasbro Transformer. The story about a broken alien car/robot works as a coming-of-age tale thanks to Hailee Steinfeld, who plays a young girl who finds an unlikely robot friend. Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence. 113 min. [PV]

“A DOG’S WAY HOME” (PG) 2.25 STARS

It’s impossible to deny some of the appeal of this film that documents a cute dog’s dedication to travel 400 miles over several years to get back to the owner he’s separated from. But it’s been done better in many films that have come before, in ways that don’t include scary moments that will frighten children coming out to see this. Rated PG for thematic elements, some peril and language. 96 min. [PV]

“ESCAPE ROOM” (PG-13) 1.5 STARS

Though this was designed to create tension and fear by turning the notion of an escape room into a horror film, it’s more forgettable than scary. Rated PG-13 for terror/perilous action, violence, some suggestive material and language. 100 min. [MC, RF]

“THE FAVOURITE” (R) 3 STARS

Blessed with a stellar cast and a screenplay that skips from funny to shocking to sad, this is an interesting look at the excesses of royalty. Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity and language. 119 min. [RF]

“GLASS” (PG-13) 1.75 STARS

Hard to believe that the director who created the recent “Split” could fall so short with this final film in the trilogy about three unorthodox superheroes. But that’s the case, as this is as flat and uneventful a superhero film you’ll ever see, despite a good cast. Rated PG-13 for violence, including some bloody images, thematic elements and language. 129 min. [MC, PV, RF]

“GREEN BOOK” (PG-13) 3.5 STARS

This film manages to be poignant, funny and meaningful as it explores issues ranging from racism to friendship. It’s the tale of a working-class Italian–American bouncer who becomes the driver for an African–American classical pianist on a tour of the 1960s American South. Rated PG-13 for thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence and suggestive material. 130 min. [RF]

“THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING” (PG) 2.5 STARS

This is a modern-day “Sword in the Stone” story, with enough special effects and youthful exuberance to help it succeed. It’s “Game of Thrones” for the middle-school set, with a story that pits a young boy who goes from struggling with bullies to fighting against an ageless evil being. Rated PG for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language. 120 min. [RF]

“MARY POPPINS RETURNS” (PG) 3 STARS

Thanks to Emily Blunt, who seems tailor-made to play Mary Poppins, this long-awaited return works as a sweet second chapter for the magical and all-knowing nanny, though not quite as good as the original. Rated PG for some mild thematic elements and brief action. 130 min. [RF]

“SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE” (PG) 3 STARS

This movie is exciting, funny and heartfelt. More than that, it offers a sense of inclusion, with a superhero who’s both dark-skinned and Hispanic. And if that isn’t inclusive enough, eventually Spider-people arrive from other planets. One is even a little cartoon piglet. Rated PG for frenetic sequences of animated action violence, thematic elements, and mild language. 117 min. [MC, PV, MC]

“THE UPSIDE” (PG-13) 2 STARS

Though Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston have a few nice moments in this film about an unqualified guy who ends up caring for a paraplegic man, they’re not enough to carry this movie that can’t decide if it wants to be serious or funny. Rated PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use. 126 min. [MC, RF]

—Rob Hedelt

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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