MOVIE BUFF-ET: Plenty of kid, tween, and teen fare opening this week in theaters


New In Local Theaters

  • Wonder Park (PG) 1 hr. 25 min. – AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight
  • Five Feet Apart (PG-13) 1 hr. 56 min. – AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills
  • Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (PG) 1 hr. 29 min. – AMC Fiesta Square
  • Captive State (PG-13) 1 hr. 50 min. – AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills
  • The Kid (R) 1 hr. 40 min. – Malco Pinnacle Hills

Somebody must have let word slip to local film buyers that it’s spring break this week because there is a lot kid, tween, and teen fare opening this week in theaters, but not a lot for serious-minded adults.

Oh, well, who likes being serious anyway?

If you are headed to the movies this week and aren’t planning to see the latest Marvel Studios flick “Captain Marvel,” there are some decent-looking choices.

If you are up for a tearful teen romance, “Five Feet Apart” should have you blanketed. Haley Lu Richardson (“Ravenwood” and “Recovery Road”) and Cole Sprouse (“Riverdale” and “Suite Life of Zack & Cody”) star as star-crossed lovers who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis. Since the disease weakens their immune systems, they can talk but not touch or even get within five feet of each other. Critics are calling the film clichéd — what romantic drama isn’t — but are giving Richardson’s performance high marks.

Wonder Park” is an animated adventure in which 10-year-old June and her mother Mrs. Bailey (voiced by Jennifer Garner) enjoyed fantasizing about intellectually constructing their own theme park with all the requisite cartoon characters to populate it. However, when Mrs. Bailey becomes ill, June begins to lose her sense of imagination until discovering an actual theme park in the woods that is just like the one she and her mom imagined. The animation looks sharp and the characters appear cute. The story has the feel of knock-off version of Pixar’s “Inside Out,” but critics have nothing exceptional to say about it one way or the other.

Every few years, a new film version of Nancy Drew opens and as one who cut my teeth on her mysteries as well as those of the Hardy Boys, I’m always at least slightly interested. After watching the trailer for “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase,” I might be interested enough to buy a ticket. There seems to be good chemistry between the cast and perhaps some fun hijinks, too. The films stars Sophia Lillis, who turned heads last year with her performance as the young Beverly Marsh in the adaptation of Stephen King’s “It,” as Nancy, who is investigating a seemingly haunted house with her crew of side kicks — mean girl, science nerd and athlete. Sure, the film looks formulaic, but when a formula works for you, it works.

Captive State” tells the tale of extraterrestrial beings infiltrating the world as a seemingly peaceful and benign force come to help. However they are actually on Earth to enslave the populace. Of course, a resistance must rise to stands against them. This is the type of Cold-War era sci-fi I used to devour as a kid in any form or format. With John Goodman starring as Chicago cop William Mulligan who teams with promising young freedom fighter Gabriel (Ashton Sanders), this B-movie beckons the 12-year-old in me to buy a ticket. I probably will.

The Kid” is a Western about a young man named Rio (Jake Schur) who becomes entwined in the feud between former friends sheriff Pat Garret (Ethan Hawke) and outlaw Billy “The Kid” Bonney (Dane DeHaan) while he travels across the Southwest to save his sister Sara (Leila George) from the influence of his uncle Grant Cutler (Chris Pratt). The cast makes this movie, which is directed by Vincent D’Onofrio, look like a winner to me, but the fact that Lion’s Gate put so little into publicizing it has me scratching my head. Even if the movie is only mediocre, I’m going to see it. There are too few Westerns being made today to miss one.

Classic Corner


The Quiet Man

John Ford’s “The Quiet Man” isn’t about Saint Patrick’s Day, but if there ever was a movie to leave Irish eyes smiling, then 1952 romantic dramedy has to be it.

Nothing says Saint Patrick’s Day more than a film that features an epic fist fight that takes a break in the middle so the two combatants can down a couple of beers in a pub before they start whaling on each other again.

The two combatants are John Wayne as Sean Thornton and Victor McLaglen as Squire “Red” Will Danaher who are at odds over Danaher’s refusal to hand over the dowry of his fiery sister Mary Kate, (Maureen O’Hara).

The fight scene that sprawls across the countryside near the town of Inisfree is gorgeously shot in Technicolor by cinematographer Winton Hoch, whose work earned him an Academy Award. It won Ford his fourth Best Director Oscar in 1953.

The film is truly a moving picture-postcard for the lush Irish countryside, which offers the perfect setting for the love story that features some of the finest and most subtle work by Wayne as an Irish-American who returns to his birthplace to reclaim his family farm.

Technicolor was made for actresses like O’Hara, whose natural beauty is stunningly caught by the color process that yields vibrant reds and lush greens. O’Hara’s auburn locks never looked more lovely than when filmed against the verdant hills of the film’s setting.

Thornton ends up on loudmouth Danaher’s bad side because the gentrified bully covets Thornton’s family farm for himself. Complicating matters is the fact that Sean and Mary Kate fall in love with each other almost at first sight.

Wayne and O’Hara, who starred in five films together, share one of the greatest on-screen kisses in Hollywood history midway through the film. O’Hara wrote in her autobiography that she and Wayne loved each other like brother and sister. That may be so, but wow, is there chemistry between the two in this movie.

Thornton is a man with a past who attempts to avoid violence for a good reason, but his reluctance to fight Danaher for Mary Kate’s dowry troubles their marriage. Finally, Sean’s will breaks and the melee ensues.

O’Hara wrote that “The Quiet Man” is her favorite performance and included her best work. While she is excellent in many of the 60 films she made, I think she is right.

Wayne is also strong in the movie, which highlights his deft comedic timing that critics often overlook in his performances. I’d personally rate his performance third among his many roles, only behind his work in “The Searchers” and “Red River.” However, “The Quiet Man” is unquestionably his best performance as a romantic lead.

Wayne and O’Hara are aided and abetted by an outstanding supporting cast. McLaglen is a terrific foil for them as Danaher, but Barry Fitzgerald and Ward Bond turn in winning performances, too, that give the movie something extra.

Ford is one of the greatest directors of all time, and so many of his films are so strong that it’s hard to name an absolute best, but for me “The Quiet Man” is near the top. It features Ford still at the top of his game with his greatest leading lady teamed with his greatest leading man.

Turner Classic Movies airs “The Quiet Man” at 7 p.m. (CT) Sunday.