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This Week at the Movies: Crude Cops, Manic Magicians and Awful Orcs

Plus: ‘I’m the worst magician!’ says Jesse Eisenberg, star of 'Now You See Me 2'

Jude Law and Colin Firth in 'Genius'

Courtesy of Marc Brenner/Roadside Attractions

Jude Law and Colin Firth in "Genius"

Life Lesson #1: You Can’t Rush Genius

Author A. Scott Berg has waited 37 years for his 1979 National Book Award-winning biography of legendary book editor Max Perkins to become a movie. And although he’s thrilled with Colin Firth starring as Perkins in Genius, back in ’79 the role was coveted by a bonafide Hollywood legend. “Paul Newman wanted to play him,” Berg tells Movies for Grownups. “With those blue eyes and that temperament, he would have been perfect as Max.” What’s more, the pivotal role of writer Thomas Wolfe would have been played by a young actor named Tommy Lee Jones. “He had the look,” says Berg, “and like Wolfe he was from the South.” That version of the film fell through, but one element remained intact: Perkins’ trademark fedora stays pulled tightly on his head, even during meals with his family. “Some people thought he slept in that hat,” says Berg. “Perkins was hard of hearing, and he may have worn the hat to channel sound into his ears. Others suggested it was so people would think he was in a rush to get somewhere else, and they wouldn’t waste his time.” Now that’s genius.

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Jesse Eisenberg has nothing up his sleeve 

He has played a top-flight magician in two installments of the hit Now You See Me, but in this clip Jesse Eisenberg confesses that sleight of hand is not his thing. Costar Woody Harrelson, by contrast, is a natural at it.

New in Theaters

* Genius

Colin Firth and Jude Law star in this uncommonly literate and unexpectedly moving account of legendary book editor Max Perkins (Firth) and his stormy mentorship of author Thomas Wolfe (Law). The story portrays art being forged in the furnace of conflicting personalities; the film is about the inscrutable mysteries of creativity.   

Now You See Me 2

The prodigious prestidigitators who participated in the primary part of this pair of pictures present a perfectly presentable postscript. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Lizzy Caplan are back as the Four Horsemen, a renegade stage magic team coerced into doing some backstage moonlighting for a goofy tech mogul (Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe).

Puerto Ricans in Paris

Luis Guzmán and Edgar Garcia are fun as a pair of NYPD cops dispatched to the City of Light to nab some fashion pirates. It would have been more fun if the guys had brought along their costars, Rosie Perez and Rosario Dawson, who are wasted as their better halves back home in Noo Yawk.


More than 20 years after the release of the classic video game, the movie version of the Orcs vs. humans epic slashes its way onto the screen. If you love the game, you’ll probably spend an agreeable two hours. If you don’t know your Orcs from your Morks, stay far, far away.

New at Home

* Hail, Caesar!

Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo) plunge us into a fantasized version of 1950s Hollywood with this delightful ensemble piece about a studio head (Josh Brolin) whose biggest star (George Clooney) gets kidnapped. There are high-wattage cameos from every corner of the film empire — Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Wayne Knight among them.

Journey to Space
Who better to narrate this spectacular documentary about the future of deep-space exploration than Star Trek’s Captain Picard himself, Patrick Stewart?

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Action master Michael Bay (Armageddon, Transformers) directs this war drama about how security broke down during an attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya. John Krasinski (The Office) stars. Will you sit on the left or right side of the aisle?

* Anomalisa

From writer-director Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) comes this ingeniously clever and, at times, heart-stoppingly human stop-motion animated story of a businessman facing a midlife crisis.

Still Out There

* Designates a Movies for Grownups Editors’ Choice

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Loud, chaotic and utterly alien to the quiet whimsy of Lewis Carroll, this awful sequel to 2010’s slightly less-terrible Alice in Wonderland once more stars Johnny Depp as a strangely morose Mad Hatter. FULL REVIEW

Angry Birds

They’re birds. They are angry. OK, got it!

* A Bigger Splash

Tilda Swinton plays a rock singer coping with the ripples of certain life decisions in this sensuous mystery set in a lavish Italian seaside villa. Along with beautiful peeps Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson, she encounters passion, jealousy and insecurity. But mostly passion.

Captain America: Civil War

This duckbilled platypus of a movie is ungainly and slapped together, but giddy good fun to behold. The grownup stars include Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, William Hurt, Hope Davis, Marisa Tomei and Alfre Woodard. FULL REVIEW

The Jungle Book

Make no mistake: This live-action version of the 1967 Disney cartoon is as removed from Kipling’s literary classic as Angry Birds is from Audubon’s Birds of America. Still, the computer animation is jaw-dropping, and Bill Murray is fun as the voice of Baloo the Bear.

The Lobster

Think it’s tough being single? In this dark futuristic comedy, single folks must find a mate in 45 days — or be turned into animals. Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly are among those racing the clock.

* Love & Friendship

Hmm, a laff riot from Jane Austen? Kate Beckinsale stars as a scandalous 1790s British noblewoman who, on a visit to her in-laws, sets out to score a husband for herself — and a rich aristocrat for her comely daughter (Morfydd Clark). 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?

Me Before You

Pack your pockets with tissues before settling in for this unapologetic weepie, the story of a young woman (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke) determined to make life worth living for a handsome quadriplegic (The Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin). Charles Dance and Janet McTeer are touching as the hero’s furrowed-browed parents.

* The Meddler

Susan Sarandon shines as the overinvolved mother of a TV writer (Rose Byrne). She smothers the poor girl with attention — until she catches the eye of a charming ex-cop (J.K. Simmons) who rides a Harley and raises chickens. FULL REVIEW

* Money Monster

George Clooney is host of a TV financial show, Julia Roberts is his producer — and Jack O’Connell is the desperate viewer who hijacks the show after losing everything by taking their advice. Directed by Jodie Foster. FULL REVIEW

* My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

The cast of the 2002 original is back, as boisterous and big-haired as ever. Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan shine as 70-somethings who learn their 50-year marriage was never sanctified. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? FULL REVIEW

* 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 an MIA porn star. The jokes are just one form of the rapid-fire killers here. FULL REVIEW

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Andy Samberg expands on his old SNL Digital Shorts music formats with a feature-length mockumentary about a clueless rock star. He appears alongside a galaxy of his old TV buddies including Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, Tim Meadows and Jimmy Fallon.

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