'Frozen II'

Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathon Groff) and reindeer Sven in “Frozen II.”

FROZEN II

Six years after we all “Let It Go,” Elsa, the Queen of Arendelle (voice of Idina Menzel), who has cyrokinetic (!) powers, her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Anna’s love interest iceman Kristoff (Jonathon Groff), zany snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and reindeer Sven return for another music-filled adventure written by Jennifer Lee and directed by Lee and Chris Buck.

Stirred by an eerie voice, Elsa feels compelled to travel north where she discovers remnants of the Northulda tribe and soldiers from Arendelle who had been trapped for decades within mysterious foggy woods. Elsa attempts to conjure a peaceful resolution for the warring sides.

The Broadway-style score including Elsa’s “Into the Unknown,” along with Olaf’s comic antics  and Anna and Kristoff’s off-and-on romance combine for a diverting animated feature which doesn’t quite measure up to the dynamic original.

Rated PG  3 Stars

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

The magical healing power of love transcends this involving biographical feature. In addition to his target audience of very young children, it seems that public television veteran Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks) also utilizes his campaign of kindness upon adults such as reporter Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). Based on a 1998 Esquire magazine story titled “Can You Say...Hero?” the film follows Fred Rogers as he zips up his cardigan and and performs with Mr. McFeeley, King Friday the 13th and the rest of the neighborhood, then leaves the Pittsburgh studio, continuing his dizzying schedule but finding time to check up on the cynical Lloyd.

Each place that Mr. Rogers visits resembles the set of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.” The Pittsburgh and New York City skylines look like Trolley could be rumbling through at any moment.

Rated PG  3 and 1/2 Stars

HONEY BOY

“You lie for a living!” yells James Lort (Shia LaBoeuf in an Oscar worthy performance) to his 12-year-old child actor son, Otis (Noah Jupe). In the cheap motel where they live on the kid’s per diem, the fights continue with the mercurial former rodeo clown berating and sometimes beating Otis. LaBoef’s raw, honest and compelling screenplay is loosely based on his own childhood. Even though James fits the definition of a really bad dad, LeBoeuf infuses his character with some actual good intentions.

First time feature director Alma Har’el expertly helms the fascinating saga, which contains plenty of jet black humor. Jupe is terrific, as is Lucas Hedges, who portrays Otis as a young adult. British singer and songwriter FKA twigs lights up the screen.

Rated R  4 Stars

MARRIAGE STORY

Filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s most accessible comic drama stars Scarlett Johannson as Nicole and Adam Driver as Charlie, a married couple with an eight-year-old son named Henry, who are on the verge of a split. After happy years in New York City with Charlie directing Nicole in mostly successful off-Broadway productions, Nicole heads off to L.A. to take a role in a TV pilot with Henry in tow.

The coast-to-coast divorce turns nightmarish for Charlie when Nicole hires aggressive divorce attorney Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern). Extremely dark humor emerges during the couple’s shared Halloween, with Charlie trying to find places to take his son trick or treating in unfamiliar Los Angeles.

Johannson and Driver do their best work ever in challenging roles that call for revealing their deepest emotions. Baumbach deserves award consideration for writing and directing. .

Rated R  3 and 1/2 Stars

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