Opening this week:
A Dog's Way Home Ever since he had to evade the Goat Killer in American Graffiti, Charles Martin Smith has been on the side of the animals. These days, his career seems to consist mostly of directing pictures (like the two Dolphin Tale flicks) that appeal to people whose moviegoing strategy entails striding up to the box office and inquiring, "Whaddaya got that doesn't star a biped?"
Smith's latest project, A Dog's Way Home, is about a canine that has to travel hundreds of miles to rendezvous with her owner. It's based on the book of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron, who likewise has hammered out a cottage industry of appealing to fauna fanciers with novels like A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Journey (not to mention the forthcoming A Dog's Guide to Love and Murder). Hey, I love dogs as much as the next guy. But when I see a grizzled old veteran canoodling with a lost pup in the trailer to a flick like this, I'm moved to quote Smith's Toad when he thought he was about to witness the Goat Killer's latest atrocity: "I don't wanna see it!" (PG)
Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom Hey, remember Norm the polar bear? Of course you don't. His first animated feature was a box-office dud and initially racked up a 0 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. (It later clawed its way to an impressive 9 percent.) His second adventure is opening in select theaters and on demand, which these days is about one step up from going straight to Lite-Brite. And if all of that doesn't scare you off, know this: Even Rob Schneider wouldn't come back for round two. (NR)
Replicas Keanu Reeves plays a neuroscientist who ... nope, that's it. I'm out. Enjoy your 2019, everybody. (PG-13)
The Upside OK, I'm back. I couldn't leave without letting you know about this remake of a French comedy, in which ex-con Kevin Hart gets to take care of paraplegic Bryan Cranston. By the time you read this, Ellen DeGeneres may have been successful in getting Hart reinstalled as host of the Oscars. And speaking of which, you know who else is good at reinstalling hearts? Neuroscientists, like the one played by Keanu ... nope, still can't do it. See you next week. (PG-13)
If Beale Street Could Talk The book by James Baldwin yields this portrait of a woman living in Harlem in the early 1970s who fights to clear her husband of rape charges. Thank God we had this kind of stuff ironed out by the time the Central Park Five were applying to Harvard. (R; playing at Regal Winter Park Village Stadium 20 & RPX and AMC Dine-In Disney Springs 24)
Simmba Hindi is the language spoken as a corrupt cop learns the error of his ways. You know, like not holding out for bigger bribes. (NR; playing at Universal Cinemark at CityWalk & Touchstar Cinemas Southchase 7)