Capsule reviews for July 7

Austin Found

The premise might feel ripped from the headlines, but this lackluster comedy too often seems to come straight off the assembly line instead. It follows an overbearing pageant mom (Linda Cardellini) who desperately schemes for fame and fortune by arranging for her ex-boyfriend (Skeet Ulrich) and his simple-minded friend (Craig Robinson) to kidnap her precocious daughter (Ursula Parker), and then benefiting from the resulting publicity. As things come unraveled, the uneven screenplay struggles to generate much emotional investment in its off-putting characters or their plight—awkwardly shifting between broad comedy, misguided poignancy, and sensationalistic media cynicism. Either an edgier or softer approach would have been preferable. (Not rated, 104 minutes).


City of Ghosts

Perhaps the biggest compliment for this provocative and timely documentary from director Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) is that it might change your perspective about the Syrian refugee crisis. That’s the intent in chronicling the harrowing efforts of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a collective of courageous grassroots journalists who risk their lives to share the truth about living conditions in their ISIS-controlled hometown. The powerful film is a tribute to their work, but also provides new insight into the Syrian conflict and explores the evolution of activism and journalism in the social-media age. It skillfully handles difficult subject matter in ways both suspenseful and sorrowful. (Not rated, 93 minutes).



This compendium of Western clichés isn’t a comprehensive biopic about the notorious Old West gunslinger, but rather focuses on the brief period during which he served as marshal of Abilene, Kansas, in 1871. That’s when “Wild Bill” Hickok (Liam Hemsworth) tries to sort out the riffraff in a small town beset by violence while reconnecting with an old flame (Cameron Richardson). He has the support of the mayor (Kris Kristofferson), yet runs into trouble with a bar owner (Trace Adkins) and his bandits seeking revenge. Despite some stylish shootouts, the mildly compelling if haphazardly assembled oater lacks historical context and fires too many narrative blanks. (Not rated, 88 minutes).


The Little Hours

The filmmakers behind this raunchy comedy about promiscuous nuns need to confess — not for their blasphemous subject matter, but for not carrying their mischievous one-note premise successfully to feature length. However, there are some scattered moments of deadpan hilarity within this story of a 14th century servant (Dave Franco) forced to flee to a convent, where he poses as a deaf-mute while trying to resist the flirtatious advances of the resident sisters (Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza and Kate Micucci). The subversive script by director Jeff Baena (Life After Beth) deserves credit for audacity, yet the outrageous laughs start to wear thin well before the finish. (Rated R, 90 minutes).


Swim Team

The title might be ordinary, but the same can’t be said of the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive Special Olympics swimming program in New Jersey that consists entirely of young athletes on the autism spectrum. The heartwarming film follows their inaugural season as the team brings out the best in its swimmers both inside and outside the pool. Specifically, it focuses on three athletes whose participation leads to improved social skills and self-esteem, in addition to gold medals. The glossy treatment leaves some unanswered questions, yet it’s easy to root for the inspirational youngsters, whose moving stories just might change your perspective regarding inclusion and disabilities. (Not rated, 100 minutes).