Opening this week: The Case for Christ, Smurfs: The Lost Village and more

Opening this week: The Case for Christ, Smurfs: The Lost Village and more


The Case for Christ Now that Jessica Lange has made Faye Dunaway redundant, what is the O.G. Mommie Dearest supposed to do with the rest of her life? (Other than take the fall for Warren Beatty's internationally televised senior moments, that is?) Apparently, her best remaining option is to help religious filmmakers slap atheists around the head. Determined to not let the 1984 Supergirl remain the most regrettable entry on her résumé, Dunaway has a supporting role in The Case for Christ, a based-on-somebody's-truth story about a journalist who has to reconsider his nonbelief after his wife converts to Christianity. Lee Strobel, the real-life newspaperman-turned-author on whom the movie is based, studied journalism at the University of Missouri and Harvard – not that you could tell, exactly: To thoroughly investigate his emerging thesis that Jesus might indeed be a thing, he interviewed a well-rounded panel of 13 evangelical scholars. (He subscribes to both kinds of intellectual rigor: country and western!) While this latest bit of gratuitous heathen-bashing is in theaters, Turner Classic Movies is running a recurring promo that reminds viewers Dunaway was once considered by some to be the most significant actress of her generation. For more on her fascinating career path, see the forthcoming documentary, The Case Against a Just and Loving God. (PG)

Going in Style The 2005 remake of Fun With Dick and Jane taught me a valuable lesson about the cyclical nature of our cultural zeitgeist: Every generation of Americans will eventually reach the point at which they realize the socioeconomic deck is stacked against them, and cry out for fictional antiheroes who know how to fight back. And if those outlaw proxies are revisitations of ones their parents cheered on, what of it? Paying new money for old rope is the least of their worries by that juncture. So of course we're getting a new version of 1979's Going in Style, with Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin assuming the roles of pissed-off geezers who plot to rob the bank that holds their now-cancelled pension funds. Stick it to the Man, shart boys! It almost makes you forget that the characters in the original were holding up the bank not because it had actually screwed them, but simply because their life as retirees was too boring. What can I say? We didn't need much to set us off back then. (PG-13)

Smurfs: The Lost Village When I was growing up, my mother needed only a single sentence to effectively dismiss any episode of a sitcom like Mr. Ed that looked like it wasn't going to be worth the watch: "Ohhhhh, it's about the people this time." That woman sure knew her show business. If you're going to get me hooked on a program about a talking horse, every installment had better concern the exploits of that selfsame talking horse, not the efforts of his goddamn human owners to determine if the flowers in their garden are in fact snapdragons. FML! Somebody at Smurf Central must have gotten the memo, because after two previous feature films that saw the blue-balled wonders sharing screen time with live actors, this new one is an entirely animated, all-critter affair, with no annoying homo sapien cameos to intrude on the fun. (Don't worry: Neil Patrick Harris can still find work.) In the story, plucky heroine and punchline to everyone's favorite dirty joke Smurfette leads the fellas on an expedition to the magical home of a veritable vanished tribe of their species. And here's the rub: Every one of those lost cousins is a female! Now, when I hear there's a hidden village populated entirely by chicks – one of whom happens to be voiced by Michelle Rodriguez – I can't help but assume certain, shall we say, scenarios. Most of which involve flannel. And fisting. Onward and upward, society! Maybe a few years from now, you'll be bracing your kids for a lackluster Smurfs outing by announcing "Ohhhhh, it's about the straights this time." (PG)

Also playing:

T2 Trainspotting Twenty years of anticipation preceded this follow-up to the Greatest Ever British Film Soundtrack That Happened to Have a Movie Attached to It. Even ardent fans were skeptical that the cast of characters could be alive and well after two more decades of hard-core heroin abuse – but hey, Wall Street Plaza is still here, right? (R)

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