THE BOY [PG-13] B-
Greta (Lauren Cohan), an American nanny with hints of a secret in her recent past that she’s running away from, takes an assignment abroad working for an older English couple (Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle) and Brahms, their young “son” that happens to be a life-sized doll. Prior to the couple leaving for holiday, Greta receives a list of strict rules regarding the care of “The Boy,” but you know that she will break each and every one. Director William Brent Bell (“The Devil Inside”) and newbie screenwriter Stacey Menear strip away all of the current found footage gimmicks, focusing on the wounded psyche of their protagonist, which makes it a far more-welcome tale of redemption.
DIRTY GRANDPA [R] D-
Robert De Niro can be funny. Last year in “The Intern,” he expertly dialed down his mannered actorly intensity working opposite Anne Hathaway and genuine humanity emerged, easily sidestepping away from sickening sentimentality. But “Dirty Grandpa,” from first-time screenwriter John Phillips and director Dan Mazer (known more for his television efforts – “Da Ali G Show” and “Dog Bites Man”) seem to think it would be hilarious watching the legendary performer spew profane quips. The thing is no one wants to watch him blow chunks, while Zac Efron stands directly in the line of fire with a helpless look on his pretty face.
THE 5TH WAVE [PG-13] F
I wish the end was nigh for the plague of Young Adult fiction adaptations that have swarmed the multiplexes over the last decade. How many more times can we sit by idly as bland hormonal teens lay down their smart phones, take up arms, and prove themselves to be ill-prepared to take on the task of being human beings (rather than less than one-dimensional characters)? The promising Chloë Grace Moretz is the latest casualty; the victim of a team of screenwriters for hire – Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”) and Akiva Goldman (“I Am Legend”) & Jeff Pinkner (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) and a director (J Blakeson – “The Disappearance of Alice Creed) intent on extending this weak wave of teen spirit. No one is hungry for these childish games anymore.