(R; 105 minutes; Universal): McCarthy plays Michelle Darnelle, a cold-blooded, no-holds-barred wheeler and dealer and the “47th wealthiest woman in America.” She gets popped for insider trading and after her time in the clink, ends up on the couch of her former assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell). It’s there that she cooks up her new business venture with the help of Claire’s daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) – starting up a girls’ troop, the Darnelle Darlings, selling brownies and giving the girls a cut of the profits.
The structure of “The Boss” doesn’t quite work, and the transitions between acts are wonky as all get out. But there are nuggets of hilarity to be found. And there are some pseudo girl-power messages about taking a leadership role in the business world, going after your dreams and empowering young women through financial means.
The writing doesn’t stand up to McCarthy’s talents, but it’s an opportunity to watch a comedic performer at the top of her game revel boldly in her own confident weirdness.
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Contains sexual content, language and brief drug use. Tribune News Service
‘Barbershop 3: The Next Cut’
(PG-13; 112 minutes; Warner Bros.): The best of the “Barbershop” series, “The Next Cut” manages to be entertaining and thoughtful, harmless fun but just serious enough not to seem frivolous. It explicitly takes on a contemporary urban blight as shop owner Calvin (Ice Cube) is becoming increasingly troubled by the gun violence plaguing his neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.
The cast is a deep bench of talent: Costar Deon Cole (“black-ish”), Lamorne Morris (“The New Girl”), musicians Common, Tyga and Nicki Minaj, and actors Gina Hall and J.B. Smoove, alongside Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity and Sean Patrick Thomas.
“The Next Cut” is not a great piece of filmmaking, but it’s good enough in a way that feels pleasant and even comforting. By being engaging but not too pointed, topical without being particularly provocative, the film is a sharply executed version of the warm and amiable movie it sets out to be.
Contains sexual material and language. Los Angeles Times
(R; 113 minutes; Summit): Ryan Reynolds briefly plays a CIA agent whose death precipitates the action of the film – a thriller in which the dead agent’s memories are implanted into the head of a psychopathic killer (Kevin Costner).
As the antihero Jericho, a man struggling to reconcile the “scrambled eggs” of his memories and moralities, Costner makes a deeper impression. At least he seems to be having fun with his character’s homicidal tendencies. Once those violent traits subside and are overridden by the dead agent’s warm-and-fuzzy nature, Jericho settles into the kind of paternal groove the actor has fallen into, all too often, of late.
Like its brain-damaged protagonist, “Criminal” just shouts and shoots its way into, not out of, an oblivion of illogic, plot holes and emotionally unengaging scenery-chewing.
Contains violence and obscenity. Washington Post
‘Born to Be Blue’
(R; 98 minutes; New Real): Jazz trumpeter Chet Baker’s rise in the music scene and perilous fall due to heroin addiction is natural fodder for a biopic, and “Born to Be Blue” is a particularly resonant story, providing a meaty role for Ethan Hawke.
The film opens in 1966 as Hawke’s Baker lies on the floor of an Italian jail cell, tormented by the hallucination of a tarantula crawling out of his trumpet. He’s bailed out by a Hollywood producer who wants to put him in a movie – about Chet Baker. After Baker’s drug dealer beats him so badly that doctors tell him he’ll never play trumpet again, the movie-within-the-movie is shelved.
The film gains strength as Baker heals, with the help of his girlfriend (Carmen Ejogo). Despite staying off drugs and getting his career back on track, such weaknesses as petty jealousy threaten to derail his progress. These are among Hawke’s most effective scenes, and they take advantage of the depth and conflict apparent in the aging face of a once young and callow actor.
As the film progresses, its visual resonance with the iconic photographs of Baker feels more organic and less forced. By the final act, it’s chilling how much Hawke has transformed into the late-career musician, looking aged well beyond his years.
Contains drug use, language, some sexuality and brief violence. Washington Post
Also out July 26
- “Hardcore Henry”
- “Sing Street”
- “I Am Wrath”