Picks of the week
‘Magic in the Moonlight’
(PG-13, 98 minutes, Sony): Emma Stone and Colin Firth are two actors who bring an amusing vitality to a movie, especially when they’re engaged in quick-witted sparring. So seeing them try to outmaneuver each other in Woody Allen’s latest period romantic comedy is delightful.
“Magic” has many pleasures: good dialogue, a jazzy score, an element of mystery and an idyllic, summery setting. It’s also beautifully shot using what appears to be a lot of natural light.
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Contains a brief suggestive comment and smoking throughout. Extras: a behind-the-scenes production featurette and “On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere,” interviews with Stone, Firth and others.
‘The Skeleton Twins’
(R, 92 minutes, Lionsgate): This isn’t just an extended skit by “Saturday Night Live” veterans Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Though there are moments of silliness that remind you of the goofy, quicksilver brilliance of these former sketch-comedy whiz kids, the movie is a serious and surprisingly affecting meditation on family and the legacy of self-destruction.
This dramedy focuses on the siblings’ instinct to save each other, even when – maybe especially when – the other’s darkest secrets have made him or her unreachable. That bond is illuminated on screen by the real-life friendship of the lead actors, who bring an at-times frighteningly believable brother-sister dynamic to the sharply told tale (written by Mark Heyman and director Craig Johnson).
Contains obscenity, sex, drug use, sexual dialogue and mature thematic material. Extras: gag reel, outtakes, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, “Sweet Moves” featurette, commentary with Johnson, Wiig and Hader; and commentary with Johnson, Heyman and producer/editor Jennifer Lee.
‘The Maze Runner’
(PG-13, 113 minutes, Fox): Like the book that inspired it, this movie is one heck of a cliffhanger. It’s not quite a full meal, but, as incomplete as the narrative is, this dystopian thriller delivers on almost every other level.
Directed by Wes Ball, a creator of animated shorts and visual effects making his feature debut, the adaptation of James Dasher’s novel is visually stylish, suspenseful and original. Ball has described the film as “Lord of the Flies” meets “Lost” – which is surprisingly apt.
Contains sci-fi action and violence, some obscenity and frightening scenes. Blu-ray-only extras: a 24-page prequel comic book, commentary by Ball and screenwriter T.S. Nowlin, deleted scenes, a five-part making-of documentary, “The Chuck Diaries” featurette, bloopers, visual effects reels and Ball’s short film, “Ruin,” in 2-D and 3-D with commentary by Ball.
‘This Is Where I Leave You’
(R, 103 minutes, Warner): When you’re making a comedy about a dysfunctional family, shouldn’t it at least pass a simple genetics test?
This misanthropic misfire, adapted from screenwriter Jonathan Tropper’s novel of the same name, wants viewers to believe many things, among them that even the most petty, bickering examples of bourgeois entitlement can be redeemed by pat third-act resolutions, and that “It’s complicated” passes for nuanced dialogue.
But perhaps its biggest stretch is demanding that the audience take seriously the notion that Jane Fonda, Corey Stoll, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey could ever be taken for blood relations.
Contains profanity, sexual content and some drug use. Extras: “The Gospel According to Rabbi Boner.” On Blu-ray: commentary with Tropper and director Shawn Levy, deleted and extended scenes, “The Narrative Voice” discussion with Levy and Tropper and “Points of Departure” featurette.
(PG-13, 101 minutes, Paramount): Considering that two sequels are in the works, it’s clear the filmmakers believe tweens and teens won’t care about the movie’s deficits and will just concentrate on the fun of wisecracking, weapon-wielding turtles (and, naturally, Megan Fox’s hotness). And while this reboot is fun, it’s also forgettable and occasionally infuriating.
Contains sci-fi action violence. Blu-ray-only extras: “Digital Reality” featurette, “In Your Face! The Turtles in 3D,” “It Ain’t Easy Being Green,” “Evolutionary Mash-Up,” “Turtle Rock,” extended ending and a “Shell Shocked” music video, with its own making-of.