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  • Aladdin

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Though the magical tale of Aladdin is centuries old, it's probably best known to contemporary audiences through two relatively recent products of pop culture: the 1992 animated film with Robin Williams and the Broadway musical derived from it, which continues a run that began in 2014.

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  • John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Life is suffering," declares a character in "John Wick: Chapter 3 -- Parabellum" (Lionsgate). While that may or may not hold true as a general principle, for the two hours-plus that this slick but nasty action picture lasts it certainly seems accurate enough.

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  • A Dog's Journey

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Bailey (voiced by Josh Gad), the beloved pet featured in 2017's "A Dog's Purpose," returns for another adventure in "A Dog's Journey" (Universal). The sequel initially finds Bailey living the good life with Ethan (Dennis Quaid), the man who in youth rescued and adopted him, and Ethan's wife, Hannah (Marg Helgenberger).

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  • The Sun Is Also a Star

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The easily identifiable purpose of the adolescent romance "The Sun Is Also a Star" (Warner Bros.) is to make teenage girls swoon by presenting them with the beau ideal of a beau. Parents will have to assess, however, whether director Ry Russo-Young's uneven but essentially innocent adaptation of Nicola Yoon's best-selling novel for young adults is suitable for its target audience -- or their male counterparts.

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  • Poms

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Moviegoers turning to the senior-themed comedy "Poms" (STX) in the hope of being treated to the kind of zingy dialogue and amusing antics that made the NBC sitcom "The Golden Girls" so popular will come away sadly disappointed. Though the filmmakers' good intentions are evident, the outcome is feeble.

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  • The Hustle

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "The Hustle" (MGM) suffers from being a mechanical ride, punctuated by occasional attempts at crass humor, through a plot based on outdated notions of cleverness and sophistication. It's a gender-swapped remake of 1988's "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which itself was based on a 1964 Doris Day comedy, "Bedtime Story." And the roots show.

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  • Pokemon Detective Pikachu

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Devotees of the global media juggernaut that takes its name from the Japanese for pocket monsters will no doubt welcome "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" (Warner Bros.), the first live-action feature in the franchise that began with video games in the 1990s. As for those not yet initiated into the mysteries of the Pokemon universe, however, they may feel both left behind and unimpressed.

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  • Tolkien

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- By turns lyrical and moving, "Tolkien" (Fox Searchlight) is a sophisticated profile of the future novelist's youth that succeeds on a number of levels. This may not be the biography that every fan of Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) is looking for, and it may not even fully accomplish what its makers set out to achieve. But, if nothing else, it does tell the story of the young Tolkien and his times.

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  • Hesburgh

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- There was a time in the 1970s when Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh (1917-2015) seemed to be ubiquitous. Well into his long tenure as president of the University of Notre Dame, Father Hesburgh had by then also been involved in Cold War diplomacy, the civil rights movement and shaping the changing character of Catholic higher education.

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  • Long Shot

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A debased portrayal of human sexuality and relentlessly vulgar dialogue make the tasteless romantic comedy "Long Shot" (Lionsgate) unsuitable for all. Those moviegoers wise enough to steer clear of it will also spare themselves the shrill political commentary that runs through director Jonathan Levine's film, scripted by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah.

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  • El Chicano

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A masked vigilante prowls the dark, mean streets of the inner city, fighting crime and defending the defenseless. He's a potent symbol of hope and fear, a legend in his lifetime. No, he's not that caped crusader, Batman, but "El Chicano" (Briarcliff), star of the first superhero film with an all-Hispanic cast. Unfortunately, the similarities end there.

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  • The Intruder

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- A routine thriller for most of its running time, director Deon Taylor's "The Intruder" (Screen Gems) becomes increasingly trashy before ending with the justification of a profoundly immoral act in which viewers are meant to revel.

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  • Ugly Dolls

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "UglyDolls" (STX) call to mind that age-old saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." They're based on a line of plush toys that are deliberately designed not to be among the fairest of them all. Lumpy and misshapen, missing eyes and teeth, UglyDolls teach children to look beyond the superficial for inner loveliness and true goodness.

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  • Teen Spirit

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Elle Fanning spends the entirety of the musical drama "Teen Spirit" (Bleecker Street) glowering, as if she understands that life, or at least ambition in show business, is a series of Faustian bargains. Despite that, it's not a dark story with sinister or exploitative elements.

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  • Avengers: Endgame

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Aficionados of the Marvel Comics universe are likely to be thrilled by the sweeping epic "Avengers: Endgame" (Disney). Even moviegoers less committed to that imaginary realm can hardly fail to be impressed as directors (and brothers) Anthony and Joe Russo's grand finale deftly weaves together whole franchises spanning 21 previous films.

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  • Mary Magdalene

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- Director Garth Davis' "Mary Magdalene" (Focus) is a respectful but off-key profile of the biblical saint (Rooney Mara) that gets a few things right but many wrong. Grown-ups well-grounded in their faith will be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. But they'll find that, although Davis' picture is often pleasing to the eye, as scripted by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, it's generally flat in tone.

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  • The Curse of La Llorona

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "The Curse of La Llorona" (Warner Bros.) constitutes an intense but problematic horror story. Director Michael Chaves' often-effective addition to the universe of the "Conjuring" franchise elicits its fair share of starts.

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  • Penguins

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- At once the profile of a plucky 5-year-old Adelie penguin the filmmakers dub "Steve" and an introduction to his species as a whole, "Penguins" (Disneynature) is a winning documentary.

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  • Breakthrough

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Few people can ever have taken those words of Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, quite as literally as Joyce Smith, the real-life figure at the heart of the faith-affirming drama "Breakthrough" (Fox 2000).

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  • Missing Link

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- The fabled Bigfoot monster turns out to be a kind-hearted furball in the animated comedy-adventure "Missing Link" (Annapurna). Though acceptable for grown-ups and older teens, the inclusion of some dodgy humor means this is not a cartoon for kids.

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  • After

    NEW YORK (CNS) -- What might have been an effective film interpretation of a somewhat grounded college romance in Anna Todd's best-selling "new adult" novel "After" (Aviron) sadly turns into a parade of wooden archetypes.

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