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Weekend Movies: ‘War Dogs’ Battle ‘Ben-Hur’

Plus: LeVar Burton tells why the new ‘Roots’ made him cry

Exclusive Video: LeVar Burton and the New Roots

History’s powerful remake of the classic 1977 TV miniseries Roots drew more than 14 million viewers when it aired this year, and the six-hour movie comes to Blu-ray and DVD next Tuesday. The original version made a star of LeVar Burton, and in this video — exclusive to Movies for Grownups, thanks to Lionsgate — the veteran actor recalls the first time he saw young Malachi Kirby step into the role of Kunta Kinte.

Thelma & Louise Ride Again

We love it when classic movies return to the big screen, and this Sunday you can catch a 25th-anniversary showing of Thelma & Louise, the 1991 buddy comedy/road adventure starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, at 500 theaters nationwide (drive there carefully, please!). A week later, many of the same theaters will show a Turner Classic Movies revival of the 1956 Yul Brynner/Deborah Kerr classic, The King and I.


New in Theaters

* Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice

Ben-Hur

No one asked for a new version of the 1959 Charlton Heston classic (itself a remake), but director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch) guides a capable cast, including Morgan Freeman, through the familiar narrative. He also brings breathtaking energy to the action sequences, most notably a nerve-shattering battle at sea. FULL REVIEW

War Dogs

Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Jonah Hill (Moneyball) star in this action comedy, based on a true story about two stoners who scam the Pentagon into giving them a $300 million contract to arm Afghan fighters. Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover).

* Kubo and the Two Strings

Masterly stop-motion 3-D animation adds a sense of delicate artfulness to this tale of a boy in ancient Japan searching for a mystical suit of armor worn by his late samurai father. Think origami coming to life. Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Brenda Vaccaro and Matthew McConaughey are among the excellent voice actors.

New at Home

* The Nice Guys

This slam-bang buddy-cop flick harks back to the best of them (think Lethal Weapon or 48 Hrs.). In 1977 L.A., Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are mismatched detectives searching for a porn star who’s gone MIA. The jokes are just one form of the rapid-fire killers here. FULL REVIEW

* Maggie’s Plan

Julianne Moore is a hoot in this latter-day screwball comedy. She plays Georgette, the wife of a philanderer (Ethan Hawke) who leaves her for Maggie (Greta Gerwig), a clueless home-wrecker. Fast-forward three years, and Maggie wants to give the hubby back. But does Georgette accept returns?

* Tab Hunter Confidential

Warner Bros.’ biggest star of the late 1950s — the heartthrob icon of films, TV shows and even records — concealed his homosexuality throughout his big-screen career. Narrating this funny and disarmingly honest documentary, Tab Hunter is a good-natured guide through his own ups and downs.


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Still Out There

* Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley return for a big-screen sequel to their long-running British sitcom, starring as a pair of hard-drinking, bad-mannered publicists. On the run after apparently killing Kate Moss (it was an accident!), they encounter dozens of star cameos. FULL REVIEW

* Café Society

Woody Allen’s latest, the story of a young New York man (Jesse Eisenberg) eager to remake himself in 1930s Los Angeles, starts out as a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood, then morphs into a meditation on life choices and regrets. FULL REVIEW

* Florence Foster Jenkins

In a summer when movies labor overtime to win us over, Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant and director Stephen Frears (Philomena) make it look easy with the funny and sad true story of a 1940s Manhattan socialite who bought out Carnegie Hall to give a one-woman singing recital. The hitch: No one dared inform her she could not sing a note. FULL REVIEW

* Ghostbusters

Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) remakes the Gone With the Wind of supernatural comedies, this time with an all-female ghost-hunting cast. Look for appearances by original stars Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. FULL REVIEW

Jason Bourne

Matt Damon returns nearly 10 years after last playing author Robert Ludlum’s amnesia-stricken secret agent. This update — like the character’s past — is instantly forgettable.  

* Little Men

The friendship of two Brooklyn teens is torn asunder by their feuding parents. Greg Kinnear is outstanding as a conflicted dad. FULL REVIEW

The Little Prince (Theaters and Netflix)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic children’s book comes to the screen, graced by the voices of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Ricky Gervais, Benicio Del Toro, Albert Brooks and Paul Giamatti.

Pete’s Dragon

The 1977 Disney original starred Helen Reddy and Mickey Rooney. This remake’s got Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford. That may or may not be an upgrade, but the dragon’s definitely more impressive this time around.

Sausage Party

This R-rated ’toon features dirty-mouthed deli meats desperately trying to avoid being devoured. (And no, we can’t believe we just typed that sentence.)

Star Trek Beyond

Haven’t they run out of places “where no man has gone before”? Uh, no: In the 13th big-screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series, Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Mr. Spock (Zachary Quinto) find themselves stranded on an unknown planet.  

Suicide Squad

Mean-spirited. Derivative. Sloppily slapped together. In other words, just the thing to attract millions of 14-year-old boys — who, 30 years from now, will watch it with their own kids and cry out, “What was I thinking?” FULL REVIEW


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