Welcome to the Friday Movie Pile, where we dump all the new movies into a pile on the floor and roll around in them. It makes a mess and accomplishes nothing, but it’s good, wholesome fun. Let’s get to pilin’!
Fifty Shades Freed (wide)
Plot: In the most implausible turn of the series, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey are married now yet continue to have regular sex (well, not “regular” sex, but you know what I mean).
Director: These movies do not have directors — they are formed through a complex chemical reaction that scientists do not fully understand — but the name on the poster is “James Foley.”
Stars: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, titillation.
Buzz: Metacritic has critics’ average score at 32 (out of 100); Rotten Tomatoes reports that 13% of reviews so far are positive. Ask your tipsy aunt what she and her friends thought of it, though.
Peter Rabbit (wide)
Plot: You thought you knew the story of the naughty rabbit who stole vegetables from Mr. McGregor’s garden and lost his jacket and shoes while escaping — BUT YOU WERE WRONG! I mean, you’d have to be. Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1902) is only 971 words long and the movie is 93 minutes. Maybe there’s a three-minute shot of Peter just sitting in the dirt eating vegetables, like Rooney Mara in A Ghost Story?
Director: Will Gluck, whose previous films (Fired Up!, Easy A, Friends with Benefits, the Annie remake) had no CGI talking animals.
Stars: James Corden as the voice of Peter, with Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, and Elizabeth Debicki as his siblings and Domhnall Gleeson as Mr. McGregor.
Buzz: Early reviews are warm but not ecstatic: 51/100 at Metacritic, 57% at Rotten Tomatoes. But it has cartoon animals kicking live-action humans, so it presumably meets your children’s low, dumb criteria.
The 15:17 to Paris (wide)
Plot: On Aug. 21, 2015, a terrorist attack did not occur on a train bound for Paris. This is the story of how it did not happen.
Director: Clint Eastwood, who had to be talked into calling it The 15:17 to Paris instead of his original title, The 3:17 p.m. to a City That Would Still Be Speaking Nazi If We Hadn’t Saved Their Asses in Double-U Double-U I-I.
Stars: They haven’t played this up in the advertising or anything, but the three American heroes who prevent the attack are played BY THE ACTUAL AMERICAN HEROES WHO DID IT FOR REALSIES! (Can they act? Who cares?!) Also, somehow, Pam from The Office.
Buzz: Not a lot of reviews yet because it wasn’t screened for critics until Wednesday night, and even then only in a handful of cities. That’s studio language for, “Ugh, let’s just get this over with.” Metacritic: 45/100. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%.
La Boda de Valentina (limited)
Plot: Before her wedding (“boda” en español), Valentina must introduce her fiancé to her family, an embarrassing political dynasty back in Mexico. Her ex is there, too. Hilarity ensues.
Director: Marco Polo Constandse
Stars: Marimar Vega, Ryan Carnes, Omar Chaparro.
Buzz: Latino-targeting distributor Pantelion Films saves money by not screening movies for critics before they open, so not many reviews are up yet. It’s rated R for language (Spanish, I believe) and is classified as somewhere between farce and rom-com.
Plot: Inspired by a true story about a man who sets out to help the period-having women of rural India by inventing a machine that produces low-cost sanitary pads. That’s why he’s… PADMAN! A man with all the powers of a pad! His archenemy: Heavy Flo, a giant woman who never mind I don’t know where I’m going with this.
Director: R. Balki.
Stars: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor.
Buzz: Again, not many reviews out yet, but it’s opening wide in India and on 200 screens in the U.S. Oh, and since it’s an Indian film, it has songs and is 2 hours and 20 minutes long.
Eric D. Snider lives in Portland, is also too long and has songs.