Picks of the week
(PG, 94 minutes, Dreamworks Animated): Evoking “The Wizard of Oz,” “Annie” and “E.T.,” this kiddie sci-fi adaptation is about the yearning for the comforts of family. Based on Adam Rex’s best-selling children’s book “The True Meaning of Smekday,” “Home” also is a road-trip buddy comedy about a little girl looking for her mom and a lonely alien looking for a friend. When the Boov, a color-changing alien species that’s perpetually on the run from the evil Gorg, invade Earth, leader Capt. Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) renames Earth “Smekland,” relocating all humans to amusement-park compounds in Australia. The 12-year-old heroine, Gratuity “Tip” Tucci (singer Rihanna), is accidentally left behind as her mother (Jennifer Lopez) is whisked away. Alone with her feisty pet cat, Tip sets out in the family car in hopes of finding her mom, teaming up along the way with Oh (Jim Parsons), a misfit Boov who’s a wanted criminal after sending a party invite to every creature in the universe. That includes the Gorg, who could arrive and destroy the planet. Rihanna holds the film’s biggest appeal, not only contributing her cultural background and voice acting to the project, but also her music. Several of the songs on the soundtrack are Rihanna’s, with Lopez belting out a ballad as well. A brilliant mechanic who can’t read social cues, Oh is basically an alien version of Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.” The odd-couple chemistry between Tip and Oh will win over younger audiences, just like Lilo and Stitch’s did a decade ago. Contains mild action and some rude humor.
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(R, 119 minutes, in Hungarian and English with subtitles, Magnolia Home Entertainment): Thirteen-year-old Lili (Zsofia Psotta) and her dog, Hagen, have a typical relationship of mutual devotion. But in the world created by Hungarian filmmaker Kornel Mundruczo in this provocative social parable, Hagen isn’t the wise, loyal, magnificent creature Lili sees. Rather, as a mixed breed, he’s marginalized and despised – a four-legged symbol of all groups oppressed by nativist movements and rigid orthodoxies. Lili’s unfeeling father, a punctilious meat inspector, throws Hagen onto the streets, unwilling to pay the tax charged by the state for keeping mutts. Undocumented and unloved, Hagen becomes embroiled in misadventures including a high-stakes chase by animal control officials and a brief, brutalizing dogfighting stint. Scenes of abuse that make up the heart of “White God” will prove disquieting for animal lovers, who are assured that no dogs were harmed during filming. Lili undergoes her own coming-of-age trials, culminating in a third act awash in equal parts potent metaphor, dazzling genre exercise and inspired lunacy. Even those who don’t buy in completely to Mundruczo’s parable will be impressed by his canine crowd, staged with ambition, skill and genuinely original vision. Contains violent content, including bloody images, and profanity. Extras: A behind-the-scenes featurette and interviews with Mundruczo and animal coordinator/technical advisor Teresa Ann Miller.
(PG-13, 106 minutes, in French with subtitles, Cohen Media Group): The gently perfumed air of impending doom suffuses this tasteful, mildly intriguing romantic drama from writer-director Benoît Jacquot. In subject matter, this atmospheric bagatelle is the stuff of either melodrama or screwball comedy, with its twists, turns, coincidences and domestic disasters. Jacquot adds a tense, menacing tone that gives an already somber morality tale the taut dynamics of a thriller. “3 Hearts” opens as Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde), a rumpled tax inspector, misses his train back to Paris from an unnamed town. At a nearby cafe, he spies Sylvie (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Later, on the street, he bumps into her again, and they spend the night walking and talking, vowing to meet a week later at a designated spot in Paris. Fans of the “Before Sunrise” cycle may think they know how this ends. But Jacquot takes “3 Hearts” in a decidedly less lyrical direction, sending Marc and Sylvie down unexpected paths that will result either in blissful true love or thwarted desire. Adding complications to the mix are Sylvie’s mother and sister, played by real-life mother and daughter Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni. Contains adult themes, smoking and brief profanity.
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