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Movie stars: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Rinko Kikuchi in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.”

Kerry Hayes

Rinko Kikuchi in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.”

New releases

½ Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story This rollicking documentary about a giant of children’s literature employs animated versions of Ungerer’s work to relate his traumatic background in wartorn Strasbourg and to illustrate his conviction that kids can handle the truth at least as well as many adults. The latter couldn’t handle his forays into politics and erotica, and drove him into self-exile, nearly ending his career. (98 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

½ Grown Ups 2 Fans of the original will probably enjoy this sequel in which Adam Sandler plays a Hollywood agent who moves back to his hometown; everyone else will shake their heads in disbelief. Don’t bother to keep track of jokes involving bodily fluids, flatulence, or blows to the crotch, and as for the touches of sentimental sludge, they won’t make you feel good, either. (101 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

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½ I’m So Excited! Pedro Almodovar’s latest plays like “Airplane!” staged by a maniacal gay cabaret troupe. No, it’s not one of the master’s more enduring works, but if you’re in the mood for a giddy, oversexed trifle, this may be your bag of slightly stale peanuts. With Javier Cámara and Cecilia Roth. In Spanish, with subtitles. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Pacific Rim The blockbuster event of the summer — a titanic sci-fi action fantasy that has been invested, against all expectations, with a heart, a brain, and something approximating a soul. Guillermo del Toro’s robots-vs.-monsters slugfest wants to be the biggest “Godzilla” movie ever and a rousing tale of human solidarity and a straight-up summer hoot. It achieves all three with spellbinding confidence. (131 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

20 Feet From Stardom Possibly the happiest time you’ll have at the movies this year. Morgan Neville’s lovely documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” celebrates the backup singers, those women whose voices are all over classic rock and ’60s pop but whose names never made it to the liner notes. The vocal performances alone can make you weep with joy. (90 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Despicable Me 2 The animators might have done well to call their movie something else, given the lack of despicability Steve Carell’s reformed baddie displays. The scope of the ’toon espionage-adventure goings-on is surprisingly limited, mostly confining Gru and his secret agent soulmate (Kristen Wiig) to a mall, of all places. But the filmmakers so clearly love working on these characters — Gru’s Minions in particular — their creative joy is infectious. The sequel might not be all that warped, but it’s plenty funny nevertheless. (98 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

The Heat If you’re going to make a foul-mouthed, predictable lady-buddy-cop movie, you might as well make it funny. And until it overstays its welcome in the final half hour, “The Heat” is shamefully funny. Prissy Sandra Bullock and slobby Melissa McCarthy have genuine chemistry, and director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) makes nice use of Boston locations and action-comedy clichés. (117 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain Despite an overlong, awkward prologue that makes him seem more insecure than self-deprecating, the hyperactive fireplug Kevin Hart demonstrates some moments of comic genius in this documentary of his sold-out 2012 Madison Square Garden stand-up show. At other times, though, you wish he’d just take a deep breath and not try to explain so much. (75 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ Monsters University Better than “Cars 2” but not by enough, and further evidence that Pixar’s Golden Age may be in the past. It’s a prequel, the story of how Mike (voiced once more by Billy Crystal) met Sulley (John Goodman) at college. Small children will have a blast, but it’s still closer to average than any Pixar movie should be. (110 min., G) (Ty Burr)

½ Much Ado About Nothing Just about the sloppiest Shakespeare ever put on the screen, Joss Whedon’s black-and-white house party may also be the most exhilarating — a profound, crowd-pleasing trifle that reminds you how close Shakespeare’s comedies verge on darkness before pirouetting back into the light. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof are wonderful as Beatrice and Benedick. (107 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

World War Z The surprise of this absorbing, frightening apocalyptic drama is that what sounds ridiculous on paper — Brad Pitt as a globe-trotting UN employee fighting legions of the undead — turns out to be a gripper on the screen. It’s the rare zombie flick that’s mostly about the frail pleasures of being alive. (117 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Find an archive of reviews at www.boston.com/movies.
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