Reviews Of What Is In Theaters Now

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Every year Hollywood gives us hundreds of movies. Most of them are okay, some of them are so bad you want to scratch your eyes out, but a few of them are so incredibly amazing that they are worthy of a second look. 

A lot of critics put out their Best Of lists and when you read over it you've heard of only one or two of the films. I hate that stuff. I want to share movie experiences with other people, not try to be a cinema snob. That's why my list is made up almost entirely of movies that were in wide release this year. (There are a couple of exceptions, but those movies are up for several awards so they are at least becoming well known). 

As with everything I do, I encourage your comments and feedback. Movies are supposed to be fun, entertaining, moving and a shared experience. My list isn't perfect by any means. So, let me know what your top 10 is for this year. 

Now, without further ado, I give you my Top 10 Films of 2015: 

 

HONORABLE MENTION - THE REVENANT

 

This film is worthy of making my top 10, but it doesn't release to the masses until 2016. It is eligible for the 2015 awards because they screened it for voters, but I don't want to put it on my list if everybody hasn't had a chance to see it yet. 

 

 

10. THE WALK

This movie was visually spectacular. I was literally grabbing the arm rests on my seat trying not to fall off the building. 

 

 

9. AMERICAN ULTRA

 

Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart give incredible performances in this dark, crazy comedy/action flick.

 

 

8. THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2

 This franchise was handled well from the very beginning, and the final film gave fans a perfect ending to an emotional four-year run. 

 

 

7. INSIDE OUT

This was easily my favorite animated film of the year. It is a beautiful story that is well told, and great for kids and adults.

 

 

6. THE BIG SHORT

 

An exciting film about the 2008 housing market crash? Yes, yes it is. THE BIG SHORT may come up big this awards season.

 

 

5. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

This film has an amazing soundtrack, a powerful and compelling story, and the social issues happening in the early 90's are still relevant today. 

 

 

4. ME, AND EARL, AND THE DYING GIRL

This is a beautifully directed, and well acted film that might have gotten lost in the shuffle of the big summer blockbusters, but it is well worth seeing. 

 

 

3. SPOTLIGHT

 

 The ensemble of award-winning actors make this film truly spectacular. The subject matter is difficult to deal with, but the film is too powerful not to see.

 

 

2. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

 Director J.J. Abrams brought back the Force with a vengeance. When it is all said and done, this may be the biggest film of all time.

 

 

1. ROOM

 Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson should win awards for this intense, emotional and perfectly executed film. 

 

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Hollywood makes a lot of stinkers every year, but it takes something special to make a movie so bad it is able to crack a movie critic's Worst 10 list. It not only has to be bad, but it also has to have ridiculous plot holes, horrible acting, lame dialogue, and any number of other things that make it blatantly obvious that the studio didn't care at all about the finished product. 

In some cases the studio doesn't care because they know that no matter how bad it is it is still going to make money (i.e. MAGIC MIKE XXL). In other cases I think it is plausible deniability. The studio execs want to keep their jobs so when they recognize a bad film has made it too far in the system to be stopped they just distance themselves from it in the hopes that nobody will notice. 

These are the ten films that were so bad they made me question my life choices. (There are about 50 films this year that make me want to ask for a refund on two hours of my life, but these need to give me way more than that). 

 

10. THE GUNMAN

This movie is horrible and slow from start to finish. It also has one of the funniest (not in a good way) bad guy death scenes in any movie ever.

 

 

9. OUR BRAND IS CRISIS

 

Hollywood forgot that we barely care about real elections in the US, much less a fake on in South America. 

 

 

8. STRANGE MAGIC

This animated flick has an amazing soundtrack used in the crappiest way possible. It did, however, reveal to me that I have a magic superpower...the ability to sit all the way through an excruciatingly painful movie.

 

 

7. THE D TRAIN

I am a huge Jack Black fan, but this movie is terrible. It isn't worth the film on which it was printed. 

 

 

6. FANTASTIC FOUR

When you have some of the main actors and the director of the film talking publicly about how bad the film is, you know it's going to be even worse.

 

 

5. JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS

This movie had one of the worst opening weekends in the history of film...and it was still more money than it should have made. 

 

 

4. HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2

Oh, for a time machine to be able to go back in time and scrub this flick from my brain.

 

 

3. FIFTY SHADES OF GREY

The only way to make this film tolerable is to watch it with several of your snarkiest friends and "MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000" your way though it. Even then you will still be completely disappointed and annoyed. 

 

 

2. CHAPPIE

Hugh Jackman with a mullet, uber-white people trying to be gangsta, and a bad guy that you can't understand. Those are the good parts of this useless hunk of junk.

 

 

1. IT FOLLOWS

 

Many of my film critic colleagues think this is one of the best horror films ever made. I disagree completely. It is full of massive plot holes, the acting is truly horrific, and it is impossible to take the ticked off ghost/STD hybrid seriously.

 

 

What are some of your worst films of the year? Do you disagree with me on any of the ones listed here? It's fine if you do...hey, I loved THE LONE RANGER and it's considered one of the biggest bombs of all time. 

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THE DANISH GIRL

Rated: R

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Director: Tom Hooper

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander

Plot: A husband and wife deal with many issues as he becomes convinced he is a woman and undergoes the world's first gender changing surgery

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD

 

 

Alicia Vikander proves that not only is she Hollywood's "It Girl" for 2015, but she also has the acting ability to back it up. Eddie Redmayne is already a proven actor with many awards on his shelf. I have a strong suspicion that both of them will add several awards to their collections with this film. It probably won't be any of the major awards shows, but they will get some new hardware. 

 

THE DANISH GIRL has everything the Academy Awards wants in a nominee, but there is something missing that makes it miss the target. It had every opportunity to be a very powerful and moving film, but it never gets into the upper echelon of film. 

 

It is, however one of the most beautifully shot films I've seen in the last few years. Each scene looks and feels like a painting.

 

I think that had the movie been better, Redmayne and Vikander would have been front runners for best actor and actress Oscars, but now they are dark horses at best. 

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CAROL

Rated: R

Release Date: November 20, 2015

Director: Todd Haynes

Stars: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara

Plot: A married woman and a younger lady fall in love in 1950s New York

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD

 

 

If you haven't heard about CAROL before now, get ready, because you will be hearing a lot about it over the next few months. It is up for, and will win, many awards including Oscars. 

 

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara give outstanding performances in this heartbreaking yet loving film. The only thing keeping this movie from winning all of the big awards this year is that the execution of the story is slow, and, in the end, there isn't a whole lot to it.

 

The cinematography and art direction are incredible. The film is full of intriguing symbolism and artistic intensity. That said, there is nothing in this film to make it worth seeing in theaters, unless you want to see all of the major award-nominated films before the awards shows. 

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POINT BREAK

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Director: Ericson Core

Stars: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Ray Winstone

Plot: An FBI agent infiltrates a gang of extreme sports athletes on a massive crime spree

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD and make someone else rent it

 

 

I'm not really sure how you can make a movie about extreme sports, high stakes robberies, and undercover FBI work boring, but director Ericson Core managed to do it in spectacularly boring fashion. 

 

There are so many eye-rolling moments in this film that I felt like I was doing my own back flips and stunts. The bad guys' motivation is flimsy at best, and Luke Bracey's incredible lack of acting skills makes Keanu Reeves look like he should have won an Oscar for the original POINT BREAK.

 

If I'm ever forced to watch this move again I may have to consider jumping off a cliff as an alternative...parachute optional. 

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DADDY'S HOME

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Director: Sean Anders

Stars: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg

Plot: A dad and step-dad have a battle to try to win the affections of their children

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD and make someone else rent it

 

 

The Ferrell/Wahlberg combination is either incredible or a complete disaster. This movie, unfortunately, is the later. It's obnoxious, whiny, slow, and barely funny. I saw it in a theater with about 20 other people and I heard half a dozen laughs at most. 

 

Most of the best lines and scenes from the movie are in the trailer, and a couple of good ones in the trailer didn't make it into the movie.

 

This film is full of cliches and stereotypes and the situations are unbelievable and forced. 

 

This movie owes a big "Thank You" to STAR WARS because the only way it is making money is by people not able to see STAR WARS because it is sold out and opting to see this instead.

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THE HATEFUL EIGHT

Rated: R

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Stars: Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Plot: Eight people from different walks of life end up trapped together in a blizzard when everything goes bad

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters

 

 

I really believe that when Quentin Tarantino sat down to write this screenplay he had just seen the movie CLUE (1985) and said, "I can do that movie way better. And with a ton more violence and bad language. And in the wild west."

 

Tarantino once again relies on the stellar talent of many of his go-to actors, and they pull off quite the epic flick. That said, this is a 3-plus hour long, Quentin Tarantino film. If either of those things bothers you do not go see this film.

 

You should also avoid this movie if you are easily offended by bad language, including the constant use of the N word, you do not like gratuitous violence, or you aren't a fan of Shakespearean-style tragedies.

 

You should drop everything and go see this movie now if you are a Quentin Tarantino fan, because this is some of his finest work since PULP FICTION. You should also see it if you love intriguing mysteries, scenes where you can cut the tension with a knife, and crazy twists that you will never see coming.

 

This film is long, over the top, ridiculous, and amazing. If you can handle it I highly recommend seeing it.

 

NOTE: Tarantino filmed this movie in the style of the old road show films. If you have a chance to see it in the road show fashion, I recommend it. It's odd compared to today's movies, but it is interesting. You'll feel like you are getting punked for the first ten minutes of the film, but then it kicks in, and it moves at light speed after the intermission.

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JOY

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Director: David O. Russell

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro

Plot: A woman that has put off her own life for everyone else finally has a plan to make something of herself

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee

 

 

I enjoyed this movie, but I wish it would have been better. I love the Lawrence/Cooper/De Niro crew, but this film doesn't quite capture the magic that we have seen from them in their other endeavors. I'm sure this movie will be nominated for, and win, several awards, but I'm not sure that it should.

 

The trailer leads one to believe that Joy is a savvy, go-getter that refuses to let nothing stand in her way, and while she eventually gets there, she spends the first half of the film dealing with everyone else's issues. It's important to the plot, but it could have been handled in a few minutes so we could move on to the good stuff quicker.

 

JOY has been slotted into the Comedy category, but the laughs are few. It's much more of a drama. Also, one of the things that makes these films so good is the rapport and banter between Lawrence and Cooper. We don't get nearly enough of that because, he's in the movie for all of about 10 minutes.

 

Like I said, I enjoyed this movie, and you probably will to, but it won't be a favorite for many people. You'd be better off just waiting for the DVD or seeing a matinee.

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CONCUSSION

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Director: Peter Landesman

Stars: Will Smith, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Plot: A doctor discovers a disease that may bring down the NFL

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters

 

 

Will Smith has given us a thinking-person's blockbuster. This movie is done in a way that it will satisfy both the casual movie-goer and the person looking for something deep and meaningful in their theatrical experience.

 

I'm not sure how true to the real story this film stays, but it is fascinating to see one man take on one of the world's largest businesses. His journey is compelling, frustrating and intense. You can tell that his character feels passionate about trying to save lives no matter what the personal cost to himself or his profession.

 

I would like to know if the NFL had any editorial say in this film. There are several scenes that make them look bad, but the film uses real NFL logos and stadiums so it makes me think that they may have had some input into the final cut. I hope not, but that remains to be seen.

 

This is not a happy, fun, popcorn flick. It is a powerful, moving film that is worth the time and money.

 

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THE BIG SHORT

Rated: R

Release Date: December 23, 2015

Director: Adam McKay

Stars: Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Plot: A group of financial geniuses bet against the housing market in 2008 and win big

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Drop everything and go see this movie now

 

 

This is easily one of the best films of the year and should be the front runner for Best Comedy as well as many of the Best Supporting Actor nominations. It may even see nominations for Screenplay and Director.

 

When you hear that this is a 2-plus hour movie about the housing crash of 2008 you would think that it would be the most boring, slow-moving film, but it is actually very exciting and enthralling from beginning to end. The way they deliver the boring information is done in such a unique and fun way that you almost can’t help but be happy to be learning about lame economic terms.

 

Steve Carell and Christian Bale give outstanding performances. And the cameos are almost the best part of the movie.

 

I highly recommend seeing it. 

 

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45 YEARS

Rated: R

Release Date: December 23, 2015

Director: Andrew Haigh

Stars: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay

Plot: A couple has to deal with news from the past during the week of their 45th wedding anniversary

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD

 

 

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay give outstanding, possibly award-worthy performances in this rather boring and slow film. 

 

The premise behind the movie is highly intriguing, but the execution is lacking and the film never gets into the meat of the issue or the payoff. The conflict is mild at best and the stakes are almost non-existent. 

 

This movie has received a lot of attention from film snobs around the world, but your average movie-goer should just skip this one. 

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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: THE ROAD CHIP

Rated: PG

Release Date: December 18, 2015

Director: Walt Becker

Stars: Jason Lee, Bella Thorne

Plot: The chipmunks embark on a road trip to stop Dave from proposing to his girlfriend

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD

 

 

This is one of those films that you know exactly what it is going to be before you see it. That said, I thought the physical comedy was funny and everything else was on some level of tolerable. The movie offers nothing that makes it worth seeing in theaters, but it will be worth a rental when it comes out on DVD.

 

That's my take on it. My five year old daughter, who is a much harsher critic than I could ever be, said this about the movie. "It's waaaayyyyy too long and it's BORING!"

 

Since the movie is targeted for someone a lot closer to her age than to mine you may want to take her word for it.

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STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 18, 2015

Director: J.J. Abrams

Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver

Plot: A small band of rebels must fight the growing power of The First Order or be destroyed

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Drop everything and go see this movie now

 

 

 

********NO SPOILERS********

********NOT EVEN INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT'S IN THE FILM*********

********JUST MY REVIEW*********

 

The first film I ever saw in theaters was STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (4). From that moment on I was hooked. I was a STAR WARS fan for life. Then came Episodes 1 - 3 and I briefly considered joining the Dark Side. Then about two years ago I heard that J.J. Abrams was going to make a new STAR WARS. I am a huge J.J. Abrams fan, and what he did with STAR TREK was nothing short of amazing, so I waited, agonizingly, for two years until Tuesday December 16, 2015 when I finally got to see EPISODE VII.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I bounced in my chair like a giddy little school boy for two hours and ten minutes. I clapped, I cheered, I cried, and I grabbed the people sitting beside me when things went to a J.J.Abrams level of crazy.

 

Simply put, this movie is spectacular. It is the STAR WARS movie I have waited 30 years to see. It feels like the original trilogy, but done in a modern way. The story is interesting, the characters are compelling and believable.

 

Dear readers, you are going to completely fall in love with Daisy Ridley in the first ten minutes of the movie. She is going to be a massive Hollywood star.

 

One word of warning, there are MAJOR plot points that many inconsiderate people out there will begin publishing on social media very soon. You really need to avoid all of that to enjoy this movie thoroughly. I suggest buying tickets to see it as soon as possible and also avoiding the internet as much as your life will allow.

 

The Force is strong with this one.

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SISTERS

Rated: R

Release Date: December 18, 2015

Director: Jason Moore

Stars: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Ike Barinholtz

Plot: Two middle-aged sisters throw an epic bash at their family home before their parents can sell it

Trailer


Clint Says: Wait for the DVD

 

 

Here's the deal. If you are putting your movie up against STAR WARS 7 you are basically saying, "We know this film isn't great and we are fine with losing." I'm not saying this is a horrible film, but it's one that will easily be forgotten.

 

Poehler and Fey are very funny throughout this raunchy and f-bomb filled comedy, but the script is exceedingly juvenile and boring. There is nothing in this film that we haven't seen before dozens of times.

 

If you are looking for a few good R-rated laughs this weekend, SISTERS will most likely satisfy, but don't expect it to be one that you'll be excited to tell your friends you saw.

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IN THE HEART OF THE SEA

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 11, 2015

Director: Ron Howard

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy

Plot: A group of whalers meet their match in the form of a massive whale that is trying to demolish their ship

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters

 

 

Director Ron Howard has a knack for giving audiences epic films to experience. This movie is no exception. The action is powerful, the cinematography is stunning, and the story is compelling and told well.

 

While this movie is a dark horse in the awards race this year, it would not surprise me to see it nominated in several technical categories as well as visual effects. If it ends up getting any acting nominations it would most likely be for Brendan Gleeson. He gives an impressive and emotional performance.

 

If you like epic sea tales, you will love this movie. If a 19th century yarn about a big, mean whale sounds boring to you, you should probably skip this movie.

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LEGEND

Rated: R

Release Date: November 20, 2015

Director: Brian Helgeland

Stars: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning

Plot: Two brothers control the British underground with their brains and brawn

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee

 

 

Tom Hardy has quickly risen in the ranks to one of the best go-to guys in Hollywood. In LEGEND he plays both of the Kray brothers and does an amazing job.

 

This is an interesting, period-piece, gangster flick that will have you laughing, cheering, cringing, and covering your eyes. I'm not sure how close this movie stays to the true story, but if the real story is even half of what the movie portrays one would be wise to not cross the Krays.

 

This is not a film for those with a weak heart or stomach, it is full of gangster violence and all of the hard things that go along with that lifestyle. That said, it also has very compelling relationship stories between the brothers others in their lives.

 

This movie isn't going to win any of the big awards this year, nor will it be nominated for many, but it's still a film worth seeing if you are looking for a good gangster flick this weekend.

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KRAMPUS

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: December 4, 2015

Director: Michael Dougherty

Stars: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner

Plot: The Anti-Santa demon, Krampus, is accidentally summoned and terrorizes a family

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD and make someone else rent it

 

 

This film is an utter waste of time. It's not scary, it's not entertaining, and the ending is so ridiculous that it will be nearly impossible for you to not hear some variation of "What the...?" from other viewers.

 

KRAMPUS is full of plot holes, lame dialogue, and horrific acting. I would rather spend all of the holidays with people I can't stand then have to watch this travesty again.

 

Put this one on your naughty list.

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THE LETTERS

Rated: PG

Release Date: December 4, 2015

Director: William Riead

Stars: Juliet Stevenson, Rutger Hauer, Max Von Sydow

Plot: During her life, Mother Teresa corresponded with many people through letters, this film looks at her work through those letters

Trailer

 

Clint Says: See this movie in theaters if you can find it

 

 

Even though this film is slow, the story is so compelling and inspiring that it makes it a joy to watch. If you already know about the work that Mother Teresa did you will find this new angle of information on her life to be quite intriguing. If you are not familiar with the things she accomplished in her lifetime you will be astounded.

 

While I wouldn't take younger children to see this movie, simply because they will get bored, I would encourage anyone with children from age 10 on up to take them to see this film. It is a wonderful catalyst to talk with them about selfless giving, equality and struggle.

 

Juliette Stevenson's portrayal of Mother Teresa is spectacular. She shows us the strength, compassion, humility and courage that embodied the life of one of this world's greatest servants.

 

I don't know if this film will catch the eye of The Academy, but it is worthy of many awards this year.

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CREED

Rated: PG-13

Release Date: Nivember 25, 2015

Director: Ryan Coogler

Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson

Plot: The son of Apollo Creed tries to make a name for himself in the boxing world, but his legendary father is always lurking

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters

 

 

This is a ROCKY for a new generation. It is powerful, emotional and most importantly, it's a good film.

 

The movie went a lot deeper than I expected it to go. It got down inside the main characters so we could really understand their strengths, flaws, and motivations.The performances by all of the main players were great. Not quite award-worthy, but still fine acting all around.

 

There are several predictable and cliche moments throughout the movie, but those can easily be pushed aside since the entirety of the film is so well done.

 

And, in true ROCKY fashion, they did leave it open for the possibility of a sequel.

 

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THE GOOD DINOSAUR

Rated: PG

Release Date: November 25, 2015

Director: Peter Sohn

Stars: Raymond Ochoa, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright

Plot: A young boy and a dinosaur become friends on a long journey

Trailer

 

Clint Says: Wait for the DVD

 

 

This film is a swing and a miss for Pixar. It is really slow, even though it's only 90 minutes long it feels like it's well over 2 hours. There are very few light-hearted or funny moments. And while this isn't a funny film per se, we have come to expect a lot of laughs from Pixar movies.

 

The film is rated PG and I wouldn't take anyone under age 5 because there are several very scary moments. Also, the film just isn't good enough to hold the attention of the younger kids.

 

This movie has very little to offer adults, which is quite disappointing. Usually Pixar films are great for all ages. This one will appeal to children that are 8-10 years old and that's about it.

 

There are some other family films coming out in the near future that look like they would be worth your theater money. I say save it for those films and just rent this one when the DVD is finally released.

 

Warning: The animated short before THE GOOD DINOSAUR is terrifying. I know that if my five year old saw it she would have nightmares. Just be aware going into the movie that bad dreams are a possibility.