Inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson story “The Snow Queen,” this animated feature from Disney concerns a young woman named Anna (voice by Kristin Bell) and her efforts to find her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) who has the power to create snow and ice, which she can no longer control. Smart, funny and containing some of the best songs to be found in a Disney film in recent memory, the movie succeeds in entertaining us in the grand tradition the studio has become famous for. While the film is not wholly original, the enthusiasm with which it’s executed makes up for its familiarity. 3 1/2 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) 108 minutes. Rated PG.
The Book Thief
This adaptation of the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak tells of the experiences of young Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), an orphan taken in by Hans and Rosa (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) as the Nazi’s come to power in Germany. She finds solace in books as well as by caring for a young Jewish man (Ben Schnetzer) they are hiding. While it obvious that director Brian Percival’s intent was to make a film about the Holocaust that would be accessible to all, his approach to the subject lacks the proper gravity while the movie’s overly sentimental tone does it no favors. 2 ½ Stars (Chuck Koplinski) 131 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Judi Dench stars in the title role of this true story about a woman who sets out to find her son who she gave up for adoption some fifty years earlier. This adaptation of the book by reporter Martin Sixsmith is not only a gripping mystery and fierce indictment of the Catholic Church but also a heartwarming story of love and perseverance. Surprisingly, it’s quite funny as well as Dench and Steve Coogan as Sixsmith provide a surprising rapport that keeps the film grounded. An unexpected delight. 3 ½ Stars (Chuck Koplinski) 98 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Chuck’s Classic Pick:
The Royal Tenenbaums
Director Wes Anderson’s best film deals with three grown prodigies (Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson and Gwyneth Paltrow) who, all having suffered severe setbacks reunite at their mother’s home when they’re told that their estranged father (Gene Hackman) is dying. Bitter, sharp and smart, the movie is propelled by a wry sense of humor and tempered cynicism that celebrates each of the character’s quirks while honestly dealing with their emotional scars without ever being maudlin or condescending. Genuinely moving and unique, the stellar cast, which also includes Angelica Huston, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray and Danny Glover, form an ensemble that’s rarely been rivaled in terms of raw talent and the unity in which they work here. 4 Stars (Chuck Koplinski) 110 minutes. Rated R.