At the Movies: December 23

Sing, Passengers, Why Him?, Assassin’s Creed

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This week at the movies: Sing; Passengers; Why Him?; and Assassin’s Creed.


Dapper Koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. An eternal optimist, and a bit of a scoundrel, he loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Facing the crumbling of his life's ambition, he takes one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world's greatest singing competition. Five contestants emerge: a mouse, a timid elephant, a pig, a gorilla and a punk-rock porcupine. Also starring Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, Nick Kroll, Jennifer Hudson, and Nick Offerman.

Rated PG. Directed by Garth Jennings. Animated/Musical. 1h 50m.

What the Critics Say:

“Featuring appealing covers of hit songs and an all-star cast, this cute animated comedy capitalizes on the craze for both talking-animal adventures and talent competitions.” – Common Sense Media

Our Take:

This star-studded family film is perfect for a holiday outing – you’ll be singing in your seats!


On a routine journey through space to a new home, two passengers, sleeping in suspended animation, are awakened 90 years too early when their ship malfunctions. As Jim (Chris Pratt) and Aurora (Jennifer Lawrence) face living the rest of their lives on board, with every luxury they could ever ask for, they begin to fall for each other, unable to deny their intense attraction... until they discover the ship is in grave danger. With the lives of 5000 sleeping passengers at stake, only Jim and Aurora can save them all. Also starring Laurence Fishburne, Michael Sheen, and Andy García.

Rated PG-13. Directed by Morten Tyldum. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. 1h 56m.

What the Critics Say:

“Pratt and Lawrence are wonderful and share decent chemistry, and Sheen adds wit, but, there's no mistaking the disturbing nature of this movie's premise.” – Common Sense Media

“Lawrence can still surprise you with the depth of her soulfulness and, in this case, rage. How can anyone jeer a movie with a performance like this?” – Vulture

Our Take:

Jennifer Lawrence and Christ Pratt are no doubt a handsome couple in this sci-fi romance. In addition to their good acting, there are some spectacular special effects too. If getting lost in space is your thing, you’ll like this one.

Why Him?

During the holidays, loving but overprotective Ned (Bryan Cranston) travels to California to visit his daughter Stephanie (Zoey Deutch) at Stanford University. While there, he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward boyfriend Laird (James Franco). Even though Laird is a billionaire, Ned disapproves of his freewheeling attitude and unfiltered language. His panic level escalates even further when he learns that Laird plans to ask for Stephanie's hand in marriage.

Rated R. Directed by John Hamburg. Comedy. 1h 51m.

What the Critics Say:

“Even though his personality is a goof, the joke carries a satirical kick. Franco gets more than a few chuckles out of playing a narcissist bro of the moment.” – Variety

“Thanks to energetic, fearless performances from its stars, this often-crass comedy overcomes a pull toward mediocrity.” – Common Sense Media

Our Take:

The trailer already has us cracking up. We can’t wait to see the incredibly talented Bryan Cranston (who downright slayed in Breaking Bad) light up the screen in this rowdy comedy. The legendary James Franco is also just hysterical; this movie is perfect if you’re looking to laugh all holiday weekend long.

Assassin’s Creed

Cal Lynch travels back in time to 15th-century Spain through a revolutionary technology that unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA. There, he lives out the experiences of Aguilar de Nerha, a distant relative who's also a member of the Assassins, a secret society that fights to protect free will from the power-hungry Templar Order. Transformed by the past, Cal begins to gain the knowledge and physical skills necessary to battle the oppressive organization in the present. Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Michael Gleeson.

Rated PG-13. Directed by Justin Kurzel. Sci-Fi/Fantasy. 2h 20m.

What the Critics Say:

“In ‘Assassin's Creed,’ Michael Fassbender is like the ultimate special effect. Just by showing up, he confers respectability on two hours of semi-coherent overly art-directed video-game sludge.” – Variety

Our Take:

Video game fans: you’ll dig this big-budget sure-to-be blockbuster. The CGI is impressive and artful, and Fassbender clearly steals the show…