BOO! A MADEA HALLOWEEN [PG-13] C
Well, it looks like a return to form, in the case of box office receipts for this latest installment in the Tyler Perry/Madea anthology series. You would be hard-pressed to find a developing narrative, but Madea, the outsized drag alter hero of Perry certainly knows how to dispense a particular brand of conservative moral justice. This time out, she agrees to keeps an eye on the daughter (Diamond White) of her nephew Brian (Perry), while he’s away on Halloween night, winding up in a war of the wills against the somewhat scheming teen and a weirdly neutered fraternity in the community. Mixing horror spoof hijinks with the usual moral hectoring produces scenes that drag on a bit too long, but embedded in those long takes are some broadly funny exchanges.
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK [PG-13] C-
Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), the “Terminator” (lite) ex-military police legend turned drifter, comes across like a one-man “A-Team” or a military “Kung Fu,” which doesn’t appear to be the kind of figure we’re dying to see on the big screen. While mildly engaged with Cruise and the competently realized action sequences, I found myself drifting into making comparisons to “Jason Bourne” and Jason Statham in “The Transporter” franchise, which seem apt because director Edward Zwick (“The Last Samurai”) is striving for the A-level cache of the “Bourne” series, but stuck in a murky sub B-movie realm, below the campy preposterousness that drove “The Transporter.” I’m not sure I ever made it completely back to this “Jack Reacher” tale, but it wasn’t a dark blind alley, just a pointless diversion.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES [PG-13] D
Despite the presence of Greg Mottola (“Superbad” & “Adventureland”), “Keeping Up With the Joneses” feels like a not-quite fully realized story that the creative team figured could be salvaged with a cast that includes the high comedy IQs of Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis as a suburban couple forced to assist a pair of undercover spies (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot, each looking every bit the suave and sexy types that can do no wrong) attempting to stop some nefarious scheme. This is bumbling odd couple misadventures spliced with a dash of “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” but so under-cooked it never rises enough to keep up with its own synopsis.
OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL [PG-13] B-
Director Mike Flanagan (“Oculus” & “Hush”), who co-wrote “Ouija: Origin of Evil” with Jeff Howard, examines the backstory of the séance board story, settling into the groove of late 1960s when a hustling single mother (Elizabeth Reaser) with two daughters seeks to bolster her spirit-driven business. At the root of the whole enterprise, besides making money, is a desire to offer people hope and a final chance to make amends, but we soon discover that such good intentions do, in fact, pave the road to hell. Flanagan injects this “Ouija” iteration with the kind of spooks that have goosed the box office recently in the likes of “The Conjuring” and “Sinister.” Expect more evil to come.