In addition to "The Conjuring," "The Way, Way Back" and "Only God Forgives," plus a pair of films at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' locations, these two movies open in theaters today:
' Red 2'
2 1/2 stars = Average
Reuniting the old gang or assembling a new one is almost always more fun than whatever sequel follows, and that is the case with "RED 2."
The title is short for "Retired, Extremely Dangerous," and "RED" was the name of the 2010 movie based on a graphic novel and introducing retired CIA agents Frank and Marvin played by Bruce Willis and John Malkovich, with Helen Mirren as freelance assassin Victoria. They are back and joined, again, by civilian Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker), who has gotten a taste of the spy game and wants more.
This time, they are at odds or aligned, sometimes in quick succession, with Catherine Zeta-Jones as a fetching Russian agent; Anthony Hopkins as a brilliant scientist locked up for three decades; and Byung Hun Lee as a contract killer. At stake is a weapon of mass destruction that vanished during the Cold War and still threatens to kill millions.
When I reviewed the first movie, I wrote that it was "ridiculously and mindlessly violent for a PG-13 action comedy," and that holds true for the sequel.
This time, Mr. Malkovich gets all the best quips, and Ms. Mirren trades Oscar buzz for pure, over-the-top fun. She even gets to pretend to be a nutter who thinks she's the queen of England.
"RED 2" tilts more toward comedy; it's hard to take the action seriously, with silliness and globe-trotting standing in for a coherent, vaguely believable plot. The cast looks like it's having a grand time; the audience, at least this moviegoer, cannot say the same.
Rated PG-13 for pervasive action and violence including frenetic gunplay, and for some language and drug material.
' Girl Most Likely'
2 stars = Mediocre
As a girl, Imogene (Kristen Wiig) balked at reciting the signature line of "The Wizard of Oz" during a school play. "There's no place like home" just didn't ring true for her; why would Dorothy want to return to the farm after she's seen Oz?
And why would Imogene retreat to Ocean City, N.J., after living in Manhattan and hobnobbing with the swells? It's not her choice after she loses her boyfriend, magazine job and apartment, lands in the hospital and is released into the custody of her quirky mother (Annette Bening).
Everyone and every situation are quirky here, from the mom's boyfriend (Matt Dillon) who claims to be a spy to Imogene's younger brother (Christopher Fizgerald) who tries to come out of his shell by inventing a metallic mollusk-like shell to be worn by humans.
The eccentricity factor is off the charts -- Mr. Dillon's character has been struck by lightning three times so he wriggles into a rubber suit in a storm -- and some threads are undernourished, as with Imogene's once-promising career as a playwright and, at 9, the loss of her dad.
"He was the George Clooney of fathers," she says, in one of the lines that tells us everything she believes, whether it's true or not.
"Girl Most Likely" features bits -- Imogene steals a book from the library or dances drunkenly -- that seem designed to showcase Ms. Wiig's comedic skills. It very busily sets up the eventual payoff, but it's labored along the way.
PG-13 for sexual content and language.moviereviews
Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1632.