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New in Theaters April 07: Smurfs: Lost Village, Going in Style, Case for Christ, Zookeeper's Wife

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By Chris Kavan - 04/06/17 at 06:39 AM CT

Although there are going to be plenty of new choices this weekend, wisdom seems to point to the continued success of Boss Baby and Beauty and the Beast rather than any of the newcomers breaking out. The best of the bunch looks to be a new Smurfs movie, which ditches the live action/animated hybrid and goes fully animated this time. We also have the geriatric comedy heist Going in Style, the likely heavy-handed faith-based Case for Christ and, due to its exceptional performance last weekend in limited release, the WWII drama The Zookeeper's Wife is also going wide. We'll see if any can distinguish themselves from the crowd.

SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE The Smurfs enjoyed a brief comeback with both the 2011 and 2013 films that merged live action with animated little blue people. It seems like that formula is going away as The Lost Village is going to be straight animated with no actual human actors to be found. This time around Smurfette, along with Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty must race through the Forbidden Forest - all while trying to beat the evil Gargamel, in order to find a lost village (hence the title) and discover the biggest secret in Smurf history. Demi Lovato, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi and Joe Manganiello voice are smurf quartet while Rainn Wilson takes on Gargamel. Mandy Patinkin, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Michelle Rodriguez, Jake Johnson, Gordon Ramsay, Gabriel Iglesias, Tituss Burgess and Meghan Trainor are all on board leading to a crazy lineup of talent. Still, I'm not sold on this reboot of a reboot and i don't see this animated film knocking Boss Baby or Beauty and the Beast off their respective perches. I see this as the backup choice for most of the family crowd and, unlike the other two films, I don't think adults are going to be invested in this one.


GOING IN STYLE I'm not sure why studios insist on bringing together highly talented actors but giving them such generic movies to work with. Other than Red (and its underrated sequel), putting a bunch of great actors (in this case Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin) together and trying to get them "back in the game" hardly ever works. I don't care how timely the story is, this kind of comedy/crime just won't bring enough to the table to impress modern audiences. I think the median age of the film is going to be in their 40s (or older) and I don't think it's going to be in theaters for more than a few weeks. It will sit solidly in the middle of the pack, probably where it should, and leave quickly and quietly.


THE CASE FOR CHRIST I can count on one hand the number of faith-based films I would consider watching. This year's The Shack I would count among them as it seemed to take the high ground while not being too preachy and hiring A-list actors. The Case for Christ is going to be the exact opposite. Much like God's Not Dead or I'm Not Ashamed, this looks to be a typical sledgehammer approach to making sure you know exactly how things are going to be. In this case, an investigative journalist and avowed atheist Lee Strobel (Mike Vogel) sets out to disprove the existence of God after his wife (Erika Christensen) turns to Christianity. Guess what he actually discovers? Faster than you can say born again, he believes! Gag me. Faye Dunaway, Robert Forster, Frankie Faison and L. Scott Caldwell help round out the cast. My guess is this will draw the hardcore crowd before falling quickly out of the picture.


THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE After opening in the top 10 despite playing in just 541 theaters last weekend, Focue Features seems confident enough in their WWII drama to expand it to a wide release. Starring Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh as a husband and wife who run the Warsaw Zoo, the pair must deal with the increasing threat of Nazi Germany as WWII heats up. The pair manage to not only save the animals, but hundreds of people as well ahead of the German invasion. Daniel Brühl, Timothy Radford, Efrat Dor and Iddo Goldberg round out the cast. This is the kind of inspirational film that will drive audiences, probably of the older variety, and they will support it though I doubt it will have a huge opening. Still, I expect its run to be respectable and, out of all the films this weekend, this is the one most deserving of actually being watched in the theater.


There is going to be plenty of newcomers in theaters this weekend, but it's not likely to be one of the more exciting of this year. I'll still be back Sunday once the dust settles.

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