'RED 2,' 'R.I.P.D.' & 'TURBO' FACE OFF


For Hicksflicks.com, July 19, 2013

Hollywood's latest entries in the summer cinema sweepstakes include an action comedy sequel, starring, and perhaps aimed at, an older audience that the studios generally pursue; an action-comedy fantasy, which, from the trailers, appears to be riffing on "Men in Black"; and an animated action-comedy fantasy that is perhaps an extension of the snail gag that concludes "Monsters University."

"Red 2" is the PG-13 sequel to the 2010 surprise hit "Red," about retired CIA agents (the title is an acronym for "retired, extremely dangerous") uncovering a conspiracy. Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Mary-Louise Parker are back, but for obvious reasons, neither Morgan Freeman, Richard Dreyfuss nor Ernest Borgnine are returning. New (old) faces this time are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins.

"R.I.P.D.," also PG-13, appears to be a most bizarre yarn about a dead cop (Ryan Reynolds) recruited by the Rest in Peace department to prevent mayhem on Earth, and his partner is an aged cowboy (Jeff Bridges, who seems to have chewing tobacco in his mouth making him even less articulate than usual).

In animated form, Ryan Reynolds competes with himself as the voice of "Turbo," a snail that, unlike his peers, is obsessed with speed and yearns to be a racer. After a freak accident, he gets his wish. But be careful what you wish for. (From Dreamworks Animation; rated PG.)

Also new are "The Conjuring," an R-rated horror film about paranormal investigators called to a haunted farmhouse in Rhode Island, and "Girl Most Likely," a PG-13 comedy starring Kristin Wiig as a disenchanted New Jersey playwright who is forced to return to her dysfunctional family.

In addition, the Broadway and Tower art-house theaters are showing "The Way, Way Back," a PG-13 coming-of-age comedy with character roles played by Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph, among others; "Unfinished Song," a PG-13 poignant comedy with Terence Stamp as an old grump whose wife is dying, so he reluctantly agrees to join a local choir and take her place, only to discover the songbook is decidedly unconventional; "Only God Forgives," an R-rated melodrama starring Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in Bangkok looking for his brother's killer; and "Laurence Anyways," an unrated two-hour, 40-minute avant-garde melodrama about a transsexual's relationship problems.