Film Capsules

In theaters this week

Hit & Run Annie (Kristen Bell) plays a dumpy-town college professor who's totally content living there with boyfriend Charlie (Dax Shepard). But when her boss lines up a job interview for her in Los Angeles, the opportunity seems too good to pass up. The only problem: Charlie is in the witness-protection program and isn't supposed to leave. Determined not to hold his girlfriend back, Charlie decides to risk it all and go to L.A. with her. But Annie's jealous and revenge-minded ex has other plans for the couple. Shepard, who also wrote and co-directs, has great onscreen chemistry with Bell (he should — they're a real-life item too), and the supporting cast (including Bradley Cooper rocking some white-boy dreads) is solid. But Hit & Run isn't a very smart movie, even if the ride is occasionally enjoyable. (R) (Julia Eberle)

Farewell, My Queen (R) ­— The French Revolution drama Farewell, My Queen tackles an old-school historical rumor that Marie Antoinette may have been a lesbian. Diane Kruger (best known for the National Treasure movies and Inglourious Basterds) shines as the insecure yet regal queen who copes with unrequited love as well as various assassination threats. But the movie steers clear of cheap sexuality, settling instead for a mere touch of the hand here and a longing glance there. The film occasionally borders on arrogance and secrecy, but the cast's terrific performances give humanity to this royal society. While the costumes and dialogue aim for authenticity, the narrative appeals to both emotions and intellect. (Christina Sterbenz)

Killer Joe (NC-17) Killer Joe pivots on a perverse yet amusing scheme: Kill the worthless family matriarch and collect her life insurance. To handle the task, her estranged son (Emile Hirsch) and ex-husband (Thomas Haden Church) hire Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey), a cop who moonlights as a hitman. In a terrific performance, McConaughey swaps his usual screen persona for violence and pedophilia — culminating in a disquieting sex scene featuring a chicken leg. That kind of uncomfortable humor soaks the plot, but the characters, a genius mix of ignorance and id, elicit the most nervous laughter. A younger sister, used as human collateral, adds yet another layer to the film. From the southern setting to its bipolar tone, Killer Joe's success lies in the details. They combine to create a rare movie experience: simultaneously unsettling and enjoyable. And the shocking ending, in hindsight, makes perfect sense. (Sterbenz)

ParaNorman (PG) Norman seems to have a pretty normal home life with his two parents, skanky older sister, and sweet little grandma. Only problem: Granny is dead. Turns out that Norman can see, and talk to, dead people. This strange talent gets him viciously harassed by his classmates and family. But when an old witch's curse brings the dead out of their graves and onto the streets, it's up to Norman to reverse the curse and save the town. The idea of a family-friendly zombie movie might scare away some audiences, but ParaNorman strikes the right balance of chills and laughs. The stop-motion animation is a perfect complement to the movie's brains — yummy, yummy brains. (Eberle)

Premium Rush (PG-13) Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a New York City bike messenger who loves his fixed gear bike because, as he puts it, you can never coast — you just have to keep pedaling. At the end of one particularly grueling day, he has one last package to deliver. But campus security stops him, demanding the package. Wilee refuses, triggering a hair-raising chase down the city's congested streets. Turns out the security guy is really a dirty cop (played by Michael Shannon) who needs the package to pay off a gambling debt. There aren't too many surprises in the end, but getting there is tons of fun. Setting the action in real time allows director and co-writer David Koepp to keep the adrenaline flowing — sorta like Crank meets Speed. In fact, there are so many riveting cycling stunts in Premium Rush, they should have just called it Ride. (Jeff Niesel)

Hope Springs (PG-13) — Steve Carell counsels Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones through their 30-year-old marriage, which predictably has hit a few bumps. There are plenty of problems to get through, starting with the usual bedroom ones. Carell's doc suggests solutions — some work (holding each other through the night proves easy enough), some don't (Streep tries to goes down on Jones in a movie theater with disastrous results). Every summer, a movie like this is released to give grownups a reprieve from the superheroes clogging the multiplex. At least this one has a terrific cast, even if, like a marriage, it hits some predictable bumps. (Gallucci)

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (PG) — Jim and Cindy Green live an unremarkable life in a small town best known for its pencil factory. The two are almost creepily obsessed with having a child, and their inability to do so has left them unhappy. After yet another letdown, the young couple soak their depression in booze and make a list of all the qualities they want in their ideal kid. They bury the list in a box in their garden, and through some old-fashioned Disney magic, a little boy named Timothy emerges. For a family film, The Odd Life of Timothy Green is surprisingly creative (it's based on a story by Ahmet Zappa, one of Frank's sons). Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton can get annoying as the overly involved parents, but CJ Adams brings an irresistible charm as Timothy. (Julia Eberle)

The Queen of Versailles (PG) — Around the time of the 2008 stock market crash, Lauren Greenfield was shooting a documentary on the Siegel family, who raked in millions during the housing-market bubble. They pushed the profits toward a 90,000-square-foot home that was still under construction during the crash, becoming a deadweight as the Siegels veered toward financial ruin. The Great Recession presented Greenfield with one hell of an inciting incident: Her characters must change, lest they get swept up and dumped out by a world that can't facilitate their lifestyle anymore. At first, the film resembles a reality TV show, but the results prove far more compelling. Rather than placing judgment, events unfold without intervention. The Queen of Versailles is a detailed snapshot of the nation's financial turmoil, presented through a couple who attained the American dream only to see it decay into an abject nightmare. (Erin Gleeson)

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