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Film Review Life of the Party

Molly Gordon, left, and Melissa McCarthy star in "Life of the Party," playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the Regal 4 in Corvallis.

As the summer blockbusters clog area screens, it's a slow week for new releases. The top new release is "Solo," the "Star Wars" spinoff — but don't ignore "RBG," the documentary about Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is shaping up as a surprise box office hit.  

As always, go online to find the complete version of the Movie Scene and reviews of new films.

NEW

RBG

4 stars

(Documentary, PG, 87 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) A clear-eyed and admiring documentary about the Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg emphasizes not just Ginsburg’s work on the court but how extraordinarily influential she was before she even got there. Completely absorbing. (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)

THE RELUCTANT RADICAL

(Documentary, no MPAA rating, 77 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) This new documentary follows activist Ken Ward, one of the so-called “Valve Turners” who shut down U.S. tar sands oil pipelines in 2016. The movies traces the 18 months leading up the pipeline protest; three of the filmmakers were arrested along with Ward.

SOLO

3 ½ stars

(Sci-fi adventure, PG-13, 143 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the Regal 4 in Corvallis) One of the "lighter" of the "Star Wars" adventures, with a number of massive, rapid-fire CGI action sequences and a terrific ensemble cast (Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson and a scene-stealing Donald Glover). A prequel as a space Western summer movie, entertaining as hell but not particularly deep. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

CONTINUING

BOOK CLUB

2 stars

(Comedy, PG-13, 104 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Great as it is to see Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen and Candice Bergen on the big screen, too bad they're floundering about in this undercooked, silly and often downright inexplicable romantic comedy that plays like lesser Nora Ephron. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

DISOBEDIENCE

3 stars

(Drama, R, 114 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) A London rabbinical scholar married to an English teacher (Rachel McAdams) invites a New York photographer (Rachel Weisz) to be their guest, knowing she once had an affair with his wife. The story of forbidden love comes across as a challenging but also deeply respectful and thoughtful meditation on traditions and mores that date back thousands of years. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

DEADPOOL 2

3 ½ stars

(Comic book/action-adventure, R, 111 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 and the Pix in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) Ryan Reynolds' second turn as the cynical, witty superhero is wicked, dark fun from start to finish, with some twisted and very funny special effects, cool production elements, terrific ensemble work — and for dessert, perhaps the best end-credits "cookie" scene ever. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

SHOW DOGS

(Comedy-action, PG, 92 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) A police dog teams up with an FBI agent in an effort to rescue a stolen baby panda; the trail leads to Las Vegas and an exclusive dog show in this new flick from the director of “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.” Will Arnett stars.

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

(Documentary, no MPAA rating, 90 minutes, playing at the Darkside in Corvallis) Director Alexandra Dean’s well-regarded documentary about Austrian actress Lamarr, who fled an oppressive marriage to carve out a career as one of Hollywood’s top leading ladies in the 1940s. But Lamarr also was a talented inventor who created a radio system that now is the considering the basis of Bluetooth technology.

LIFE OF THE PARTY

3 stars

(Comedy, PG-13, 105 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the Regal 4 in Corvallis) Absolutely zero new ground is broken in the story of a mom (Melissa McCarthy) joining her daughter at college, and the movie owes a big debt to Rodney Dangerfield’s "Back to School" (1986). And yet I give "Life of the Party" a solid B on the strength of at least a half-dozen laugh-out-loud moments, some truly sharp dialogue, a tremendously likable cast, and the sheer force of its cheerful goofiness. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

OVERBOARD

1.5 stars

(Romantic comedy, PG-13, 112 minutes, playing at the Regal 4 in Corvallis) Anna Faris stars in this remake of the 1978 Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy; it’s about a spoiled rich playboy from Mexico (Eugenio Derbez) who fires Kate (Faris), a single mother he hired to clean his yacht. When the playboy falls off the yacht and wakes up on the Oregon coast with amnesia, the woman convinces the playboy he is her husband and puts him to work. The whole endeavor is an exercise in trying to do too many things, but it never actually manages to be a good movie. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)

TULLY

3 ½ stars

(Comedy drama, R, 94 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) Charlize Theron reteams with the director and writer of "Young Adult" to play a harried mom who gets a hand from a New Agey "night nanny." It's a crackling good domestic comedy/drama with smart, often hilariously spot-on dialogue, expertly crafted performances, and some unexpected detours. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR

3 ½ stars

(Sci-fi action, PG-13, 156 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) This massively enjoyable and just plain massive candy-colored thrill ride adventure brings the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy together to help hold off a villain with a richly dramatic background and actual dialogue. It's the biggest and most ambitious Marvel movie yet, but it's not the best. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

I FEEL PRETTY

2 stars

(Comedy, PG-13, 110 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany, the Regal 4 in Corvallis and the AMC Corvallis 12) Amy Schumer stars in this comedy about self-confidence: When she tumbles from her SoulCycle bike, the head injury makes her think she’s hot stuff. It’s a provocative premise, but the movie fumbles it — and worse, ties it all up at the end in a pretty bow. (Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service)

SUPER TROOPERS 2

(Comedy, R, 99 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) In this sequel to the 2001 cult comedy, the Super Troopers are summoned to help deal with an international border dispute between the United States and Canada.

A QUIET PLACE

3 stars

(Horror, PG-13, 90 minutes, playing at the Regal 7 in Albany and the AMC Corvallis 12) John Krasinski is the director, co-writer and co-star (with his wife, Emily Blunt) of this neatly spun and well-crafted thriller about a family that must maintain complete silence to avoid stirring deadly monsters. That's a pretty nifty setup to keep the tension going from moment to moment. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

READY PLAYER ONE

3 ½ stars

(Sci-fi adventure, PG-13, 140 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) In a dystopian future, everyone spends as much time as they can in a virtual-reality universe where events can have lasting and serious real-world consequences. Adapting Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel, Steven Spielberg has created an eye-popping, mind-blowing, candy-colored, fantastically entertaining (albeit slightly exhausting) virtual-reality fantasy adventure. (Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times)

BLACK PANTHER

3 ½ stars

(Sci-fi action-adventure, PG-13, 134 minutes, playing at the AMC Corvallis 12) Director Ryan Coogler delivers a flick that somehow lives up to the hype, as he brings Marvel’s black superhero to the big screen. Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Michael B. Jordan, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright star, but it’s Coogler who electrifies the comic-book movie with a new perspective and a rare talent for marrying naturalistic character development with spectacle muscle. (Jake Coyle, Associated Press)

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