The LEGO Movie Forget the crass commercialism of the very idea. This one has all the elements for Sleeper Hit of the Season, in large part because it was directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose 21 Jump Street reboot was … uh, a crassly commercial idea that turned into the sleeper hit of its own season. Plus, the voice cast includes Will Arnett as Batman (why can’t this be live action?!) and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, which should really make the geeks come out at night. (PG) – Steve Schneider
The Monuments Men Now that the all-star World War II picture has been revived as a genre, we can all enjoy this based-on-truth adventure that sends a bunch of art experts to Germany to salvage the country’s aesthetic treasures as the Third Reich collapses. Given that star George Clooney also directed and co-wrote, I’m guessing there’s a good chance an Iraq metaphor could slip in there somewhere. (PG-13) – SS
Vampire Academy It seems like every week, I have to write something about a new release making me feel old. So here goes: Have we really reached the point at which “from the writer of Heathers” isn’t considered a profitable tag for a teen-oriented flick? Guess so, because the ads for Vampire Academy omit that little detail to stress the directorial work of Mark Waters, whose Mean Girls is admittedly a much more recent entry in the canon of adolescent snark. Yet Vampire Academy – adapted from the YA series about bloodsucking private-schoolers – isn’t being pitched as a comedy, per se, which makes the attempt to tie it to the world of Regina George seem kinda self-defeating. Somebody’s leaving a lot of adult dollars on the table here, unless there’s an unexpected flurry of walk-up business from everybody who got burned by the American Horror Story flameout and needs to visit another successor to Satan’s School for Girls. (PG-13) – SS
Labor Day Stockholm syndrome as a romantic concept? Are they kidding? They are not kidding. A single mom (Kate Winslet) and her teen son (Gattlin Griffith) are kidnapped by an escaped convict (Josh Brolin), with whom she becomes positively besotted. Writer-director Jason Reitman, adapting a novel by Joyce Maynard, abandons the snark of Young Adult and Thank You for Smoking and instead expects us to swallow straight the regressive attitudes on display here. Of course Winslet and Brolin are amazing. But that only makes Labor Day even more horrifyingly wrongheaded. (PG-13) – MaryAnn Johanson
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