This week’s new releases: Evergreen: The Road to Legalization, Neighbors, and The Signal.
EVERGREEN: THE ROAD TO LEGALIZATION
Running Time: 86 mins.
OFRB Rating: Not Rated
Starring: Alison Holcomb, Rick Steves, John Mckay, Pete Holmes, Douglas Hiatt, Steve Sarich, and Jodie Emery
Verdict: Historically speaking, documentaries about marijuana are notoriously one-sided, loudly screaming of either its dangers or its benefits to anyone on their own side willing to be preached to. Evergreen: The Road to Legalization follows multiple sides of the yearlong lead-up to the Washington vote on I-502, the 2012 initiative to legalize marijuana possession in small amounts. With each side arguing their case with eloquence and cohesion, every party raises important questions that serve to illustrate the complexity of the issue while presenting a multifaceted account of a long road and a tense vote. (4 stars / 5)
Running Time: 97 mins.
OFRB Rating: 18A (coarse language, sexual content, substance abuse)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Carla Gallo, Jerrod Carmichael, and Lisa Kudrow
Verdict: Neighbors, the new movie from director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), cleverly avoids falling into frat movie traps by not, despite its outward appearances, actually being a frat movie. By using an escalating war between a new father (Rogen) and a frat leader (Efron) as a catalyst for a story that is, at its heart, about men’s fear of growing up, Neighbors is consistently surprising and unpredictable. Even more importantly, it’s also one of the flat-out funniest movies of 2014. (4½ stars / 5)
Running Time: 97 mins.
OFRB Rating: PG (language, frightening scenes)
Starring: Brendan Thwaites, Laurence Fishburne, Olivia Cooke, and Beau Knapp
Verdict: Following in the footsteps of recent, art-house science-fiction like Moon, The Man from Earth, Monsters, and Under the Skin, The Signal explores a huge narrative terrain with remarkable skill and a moderate budget that doesn’t show. When Nic (Thwaites) and his two friends investigate a hacker’s frequency signal and witness something unfathomable, he awakens in an underground facility, forced to answer confusing questions and struggling to understand his predicament. As the plot unfolds itself, turn upon twist pile up, with the movie going for broke in the final act with a number of escalating surprises. (4 stars / 5)