PICKS OF THE WEEK
“Despicable Me 2” (PG) — Once a dastardly supervillain, the sinister Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) became a doting father in the last movie. With his three adopted daughters (and a crew of goofy yellow minions), Gru must undertake a daunting mission: enter the dating scene. This mission, however, is interrupted by another mission from an Anti-Villain Agent, Lucy (Kristen Wiig) — Gru and company have to foil a supervillain scheme at a shopping mall.
The plot sounds a little unwieldy, but it barely gets in the way. The real focus of the film is the slapstick humor of the minions and the aggressive cuteness of the kids. It’s like a feature-length serving of old-fashioned cartoon humor. Throw in a few lines that will make parents chuckle between rounds of 3-D showboating, and you’ve got a sequel that competes with its predecessor.
“Fast and Furious 6” (R) — After toppling a criminal empire in the last film, the street-racing heroes of the “Fast and Furious” franchise (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Ludacris, et al.) are spread out around the world, keeping low profiles. They are called back into action once again by Dwayne Johnson’s special agent, who offers them amnesty if they can take down a ruthless tribe of motorhead criminals.
This installment piles on the carnage in order to top its five predecessors. The stunts are even more ridiculous and crunchy than ever. There are many scenes of stilted dialogue and contrived problems. Fortunately, the pace of the film puts them into the rearview rather quickly. You’ll soon forget the acting as your senses are engulfed in flames and fumes.
“The Hunt” (R) — In a small community in Denmark, one man’s life is turned upside down by suspicion and hysteria. Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is a quiet and thoughtful guy who teaches kindergarten during the week and hunts deer in his off time. One little girl tells a lie that snowballs into a witchhunt against an innocent man. As each scene unfolds, you see one man’s life turn into a nightmare as he is shunned for accusations he can’t possibly disprove. Even in church, his fellow parishioners change pews so they don’t sit near him during mass. The detailed directing and delicate performances make this real-life horror story gripping and unforgettable.
“Berberian Sound Studios” (R) — A British sound technician (Toby Jones) takes a job making cringe-inducing sound effects for Italian horror movies — a job that burrows into his mind and brings up his personal demons. In the sound booth, he brutalizes radishes and other vegetables to get the perfect crunch and squish that simulates murder. The camera gets up close and intimate with the destruction. The horror is all in your mind, as old-fashioned sound engineering injects terror through your ears. It’s an utterly creepy and fun experience.
“Doc Martin Series 6”
“Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special: The Day of the Doctor”
“Futurama, Vol. 8”
“Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight”
© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.