Picks of the week
(PG, 104 minutes, Fox): Set in 1769, “Belle” announces its intentions straightaway with a heartfelt reunion between an English admiral and his biracial daughter, followed by an exceedingly tearful separation. But even the melodrama can’t put a damper on the remarkable history behind this true story.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a superb performance as Dido, a young woman who exists in a state of limbo: too high-born to mingle with commoners and too dark-skinned to eat dinner with her own family. The movie packs a lot in, and the quick pace of early scenes can feel like running on a treadmill, but “Belle” settles into a nice rhythm.
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It ends up having all the requisites of a period drama – a strings-heavy soundtrack, lavish costumes and passionate declarations of love – plus a good deal more.
Contains thematic elements, strong language, brief smoking image. Extras: a making-of short and four other featurettes including a profile of Mbatha-Raw.
(PG-13, 117 minutes, Warner): Sixteen years since Adam Sandler starred opposite Drew Barrymore in “The Wedding Singer” and a decade since they did it again in “50 First Dates,” the pair have grown up, even if the comedy hasn’t.
They play Jim and Lauren, two single parents who go on a disastrous blind date (Hooters?!). Jim beats Lauren to the punch getting an “emergency” call halfway through the date, which was exactly the exit strategy she was planning. Basically, Jim is a schlubby Mr. Darcy, antagonizing Lauren only to potentially win her over later, when the two, each with their children, coincidentally end up on the same African safari vacation intended for Brady Bunch-esque blended families.
Contains crude and sexual content, rude gestures and strong language. Extras: “Adam and Drew: Back Together Again,” a featurette on young actress Bella Thorne’s makeover, an on-location short on Georgia and deleted scenes. On Blu-ray: featurettes “Safari,” “Animals,” “Parasailing,” “Ostriches,” “Dick’s Customer Service,” “Herlihopps: Basketball Actor” and “Nickens.”
(R, 93 minutes, Magnolia Home Entertainment): Loosely inspired by Fyodor Dostoevsky’s 1846 novella about a shy clerk and his manipulative double, the film is part absurdist comedy and part tragedy, part love story and part existential allegory.
In the lead role, Jesse Eisenberg delivers a mesmerizing dual performance as the timid Simon James and his spitting image, the coolly self-confident James Simon. A nebbish nobody toiling in a cubicle farm, Simon pines for pretty co-worker Hannah (Mia Wasikowska).
When a new hire shows up who looks exactly like Simon – minus the paralyzing insecurity and with a sexy swagger that catches Hannah’s eye – life for Simon slowly starts spinning out of control.
Contains obscenity, suggestive dialogue. Extras: a making-of featurette.