Capsule reviews for Jan. 19

The Final Year

In this age of aggressive ideological division, praise for this documentary is certain to fall along party lines. Yet open-minded viewers should gain some insight from this behind-the-scenes chronicle of the last 365 days of the Obama administration. Primarily, it focuses on foreign policy and follows the global travels of Secretary of State John Kerry, United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power and high-ranking presidential aide Ben Rhodes. The film wears its appreciation for the 44th president on its proverbial sleeve, although director Greg Barker (We Are the Giant) uses his remarkable access to capture some powerfully candid moments, especially leading up to the apprehensive transition of power. (Not rated, 89 minutes).


Forever My Girl

It’s difficult to imagine two people less suited for one another than the lovebirds in this eye-rolling redemption tale about a country music superstar (Alex Roe) who returns after a tragedy to his Louisiana hometown, where he attempts to reconcile with his preacher father (John Benjamin Hickey) and with his high school sweetheart (Jessica Rothe) who he left at the altar eight years earlier. She’s now a florist and single mother to a precocious girl (Abby Ryder Fortson). The screenplay by director Bethany Ashton Wolf lacks subtlety and surprise while indulging in cutesy contrivances at the expense of narrative authenticity. The result feels out of tune. (Rated PG, 104 minutes).


Mom and Dad

This amusing combination of slasher flick and suburban satire stars a full-tilt Nicolas Cage as Brent, the father of a teenage daughter (Anne Winters) and a younger son in a community overrun by hysteria, in which parents murder their own children apparently as revenge for their misdeeds. So it isn’t long before Brent and his wife (Selma Blair) reluctantly join the action. The screenplay by director Brian Taylor (Crank) has the courage to follow through on its twisted concept. And there are enough clever touches along the way — such as the soundtrack and the use of household objects as weapons — to compensate for some formulaic execution. (Rated R, 83 minutes).


The Road Movie

You might think twice about driving in bad weather, and you’ll definitely think twice about ever driving in Russia, after watching this documentary consisting entirely of footage from Russian dashboard cameras. The compilation includes horrifying crashes and hair-raising close calls, road-rage incidents, animal encounters, and other outbursts of bizarre behavior — all narrated by drivers and passengers at the scene. The alternately hilarious and harrowing result offers a glimpse into life in contemporary working-class Russia, even if it shortchanges any broader context or insight. With most segments only lasting a few seconds, the scattershot film is almost hypnotically compelling for rubberneckers and reality TV buffs everywhere. (Not rated, 70 minutes).


Small Town Crime

A strong cast is saddled with a formulaic redemption story in this energetic low-budget crime thriller with a mildly amusing throwback vibe. It follows an ex-cop whose alcoholism has derailed both his career and his personal life. When he finds a body along the side of the road, he launches a vigilante investigation that he hopes will heal his wounds. Hawkes carries the film through its rough patches with a portrayal that’s both edgy and sympathetic, even if the script by sibling directors Eshom and Ian Nelms keeps his character confined within some genre clichés. The cast includes Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer and Robert Forster. (Rated R, 91 minutes).