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What to Watch at the Movies

The historically important rom-com 'Crazy Rich Asians' and Oscar front-runner Glenn Close's 'The Wife'

 Crazy Rich Asians, PG-13

Crazy Rich Asians is an event movie, featuring Hollywood’s first almost-all-Asian cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club. Combining frisky wit with prime-time-soap melodramatics, it showcases an appealing young cast led by Constance Wu as Rachel, who meets her boyfriend’s Singapore family and discovers they’re insanely wealthy. Awkwafina is hilarious as her best friend. But the rom-com is also a dynamite showcase for cinema icon Michelle Yeoh, 56 (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Tomorrow Never Dies), as a fierce matriarch suspicious of potential daughter-in-law Rachel. Her charisma and warmth make a real character out of what could have been a cardboard villainess. And as Awkwafina’s voluble, ridiculously dressed nouveau-riche dad, Ken Jeong, 49 (The Hangover), is as funny as he’s ever been. —Glenn Kenny

Also New in Theaters

Glenn Close looking at Jonathan Pryce in

GRAEME HUNTER PICTURES

In 'The Wife,' Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce play a long-married couple at a crossroads in their relationship.

 The Wife, R

Jonathan Pryce and Glenn Close, both 71, brilliantly depict the four-decade marriage of a womanizing novelist and his more talented, totally overlooked wife. Close gives a career-capping performance as a great writer sidelined by wifely duties, poised to explode as her husband prepares to accept the Nobel Prize in literature. No living actor has been nominated for an Oscar more often than Close without winning. The studio released The Wife this year instead of last, avoiding competition with Frances McDormand, who won for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. This could be Close's year. —Tim Appelo (T.A.) FULL REVIEW

Still in Theaters

Adam Driver and John David Washington sitting next to each other.

David Lee/Focus Features

Adam Driver (left) and John David Washington play friends in "BlacKkKlansman" and work together to move in on the KKK.

 BlacKkKlansman, R

In a highly unlikely story that actually happened in the 1970s, a black cop (Denzel Washington's son John David Washington) teams with a Jewish colleague (Adam Driver) to infiltrate the KKK, fooling even Grand Wizard David Duke (Topher Grace) with their audacious impersonations of racists. The film is apt to be the biggest hit directed by Spike Lee, 61, since Inside Man in 2006. It's political to a fault and may annoy some viewers, but it's not just a message picture — it's funny, serious and totally entertaining. —Dana Kennedy FULL REVIEW

Agnes and Robert  working on a

Linda Kallerus/Sony Pictures Classics

Kelly Macdonald as Agnes and Irrfan Khan as Robert in "Puzzle."

 Puzzle, R

Kelly Macdonald, 42, who stole Boardwalk Empire from Steve Buscemi and No Country for Old Men from Josh Brolin, seizes the spotlight from everyone in this low-key drama about a neglected Connecticut housewife who discovers she’s got a brilliant gift for putting puzzles together. Though she loves the mechanic husband (The Office’s David Denman, 45) and sons who take her for granted, she’s most alive when sneaking off to Manhattan to partner with a divorced millionaire (Irrfan Khan, 51) in a puzzle contest. As she tries to put herself together, you’re with her all the way. The script isn’t as good as Little Miss Sunshine, which director Marc Turtletaub produced, but it has a similar sweet spirit. —T.A.

Tom Cruise stars as Ethan Hunt in

Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt in the dizzyingly exciting "Mission: Impossible - Fallout."

  Mission: Impossible — Fallout, R

Who needs James Bond? Tom Cruise, 56, outdoes him in his sixth M:I action epic, with a little help from fellow spies Alec Baldwin, 60, and Ving Rhames, 59. The knotty plot about loose nukes is the perfect excuse for stunt after spectacular, 007-shaming, Bourne-topping stunt, with Cruise piloting helicopters, racing through European capitals, opening his parachute way too close to the ground and clinging to icy cliffs. Cruise broke bones doing his own stunts, but it was worth it. What a ride! —Thelma Adams (T.M.A.) FULL REVIEW

Aubrey and Morgan crawling on a floor in a scene from

Hopper Stone/Lionsgate Entertainment

Best friends Audrey (Mila Kunis) and Morgan (Kate McKinnon) become partners in crime in "The Spy Who Dumped Me."

 The Spy Who Dumped Me, R

If Romy and Michele found themselves in a Mission: Impossible movie instead of a school reunion, it would be The Spy Who Dumped Me. Mila Kunis is fun as a shy grocery clerk who gets in touch with her inner international assassin, goaded on by her bestie Kate McKinnon, who’s wilder than she ever is on Saturday Night Live. Their girl-buddy bonding helps anchor the uneven action, which is startlingly violent — but you wouldn’t say that if they were guys. It’s a cut below Melissa McCarthy’s similar Spy, but as good as some of the Mission: Impossibles, and just as silly. —T.A. FULL REVIEW

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Jonathan Prime/Universal Studios

Julie Walters, Amanda Seyfried and Christine Baranski are among the multigenerational cast of "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again."

 Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, PG-13

Nobody expected good things from this ABBA-song-filled sequel to the critically reviled, massively popular 2008 movie about a Greek island innkeeper (Meryl Streep) and her daughter's possible fathers (Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard and Pierce Brosnan), all reunited as grownups. Surprise! It's more fun than the first flick. Director Ol Parker, who wrote The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, blends storylines featuring the grownup cast and youngsters playing them in youth. Streep returns, Christine Baranksi and Julie Walters are terrific, and Cher, 72, upstages everyone as the mother of Streep, 69, singing "Fernando" in a finale fizzier than a magnum of Dom Perignon. —T.M.A. FULL REVIEW

Denzel Washington and Ashton Sanders in The Equalizer 2

Sony Pictures Entertainment

Denzel Washington reprises his role as Robert McCall in "The Equalizer 2".

  The Equalizer 2, R

The complex plot is ridiculous, but few vigilante movies boast the cinematic skill of this action franchise starring Denzel Washington, 63, as a black-ops assassin turned Boston Lyft driver who just hates to have to kill bad guys — but if he won't, who will? Washington stabs kidnappers with a corkscrew on a Turkish train, slices rich-boy rapists' throats with their own credit cards, saves a kid (Moonlight's Ashton Sanders) from gang life, and gets especially vengeful when his CIA pal (Melissa Leo, 57) dies. Gory and silly, but director Antoine Fuqua, 53, whose 2001 Training Day got Washington an Oscar, knows how to make violence stylish, and the final shootout in a gale-force storm is as epic as it is dumb. —T.A.

Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton in

Photo by Linda Kallerus, courtesy of A24

Elsie Fisher and Josh Hamilton play an adolescent girl and her single dad in "Eighth Grade".

 Eighth Grade, R

Bo Burnham, whose homemade YouTube videos earned him 228 million viewers at 16, crafts a superb first film about a girl's last week in middle school. Elsie Fisher (Despicable Me) is wonderful as a YouTube motivational video maker who's bubbly and confident online but intensely shy in real life — especially when she, voted most quiet in her class, gets invited to the rich, cool kids' year-end pool party. Everything in her scary but exciting life rings true — the tyranny of social networks, boys good and bad, kids welcoming and menacing, big decisions you're not ready for. It's as good as a John Hughes movie but sweeter and infinitely more realistic. It will take you back, and to the eighth-grader in your life it will feel like a documentary. —T.A. FULL REVIEW

Mister Rogers sitting behind the famous trolley on  the set of

GENE J. PUSKAR/AP

"Won't You Be My Neighbor" beautifully chronicles Fred Rogers and his positive impact on generations of children.

 Won't You Be My Neighbor?, PG-13

The movie of the moment is this tear-inducing tribute to Fred Rogers, the late host of the children's TV show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, by Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville. The film, which particularly draws grownup viewers with its irresistible nostalgia, is powered by Rogers' world-class kindness, which inspires kindness in others. The film also depicts his fearlessness — he helped kids deal with issues as troubling as Bobby Kennedy's assassination and the 1986 Challenger explosion, and convinced President Nixon not to kill $20 million in PBS funding by defending public broadcasting in an eloquent six-minute U.S. Senate speech. When Tom Hanks plays Rogers in the forthcoming film You Are My Friend, he'll have a heck of a time topping the real man's performance. —T. A. SEE RELATED ARTICLE 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Magnolia Pictures

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks a bit different without her black robe; the documentary "RBG" catches her at the gym as well as the chambers of the Supreme Court.

 RBG, PG

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, gets the star treatment in this charming documentary (though conservatives in the film who call her "vile" and "wicked" won't be applauding). We see her ascend from a ladylike, blue-eyed young beauty traumatized by Harvard Law School's sexism to a crusading attorney winning case after case for women's rights before the court, and finally joining it thanks in part to the superb lobbying of her husband, of whom their daughter said, "Daddy does the cooking and Mommy does the thinking." Warm and funny, the film also sheds substantive light on the collision of legal ideas and personalities that shape our nation. —T.A. FULL REVIEW

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