Without many notable new titles to choose from available to stream this week — with the exception of the latest Liam Neeson action thriller — the best choices are ones available through subscription services. Read on for details:


Non-Stop
62%

On a flight from New York to London, federal air marshal Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) receives a text informing him that a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes unless $150 million is deposited into a secure bank account.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Gambit
18%

Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Cameron Diaz, and Stanley Tucci star in this crime caper about a thief who recruits a beautiful woman to help him steal a priceless statue.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu


Star Trek Into Darkness
84%

This time out, it’s up to the crew of the Enterprise to hunt down a mysterious adversary who has perpetrated an act of intergalactic terrorism — and who has ambitions to destroy the Starfleet.

Available now on: Netflix


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
71%

After dealing with torrents of raining food in the first film, the residents of Swallow Falls now have a mess of leftovers to clean up. But Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), and the rest of the town have bigger concerns than spoilage when a veritable army of food/animal hybrids start wreaking havoc.

Available now on: Netflix


Dear Mr. Watterson
62%

This documentary focuses on Bill Watterson, the spotlight-shunning creator of Calvin & Hobbes.

Available now on: Netflix


Birth of the Living Dead
96%

This documentary takes a closer look at the creation and impact of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

Available now on: Netflix


Little Fish
90%

Cate Blanchett, Sam Neill, and Hugo Weaving star in this indie drama about an ex-junkie trying to turn her life around.

Available now on: Amazon Prime

In Theaters This Week:



Labor Day

35%

Rating: PG-13, for thematic material, brief violence and sexuality.

Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet fall in doomed love – and make a delicious-looking peach pie – in this soapy romance/thriller/coming-of-age drama as seen through the eyes of a 13-year-old boy. Brolin plays a convicted killer who escapes from prison and takes Winslet’s depressed divorcee character and her son hostage in their New Hampshire home. For starters, Jason Reitman’s film is unintentionally hilarious. But it also has some mature material for young viewers, including flashbacks to the murder that landed Brolin’s character in prison as well as the traumatic events that destroyed Winslet’s character’s marriage and turned her into a shaky shell of her former self. I’d avoid it with kids. Actually, I’d avoid it all around if I were you.

New On DVD:



Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

71%

Rating: PG, for mild rude humor.

There’s nothing even remotely scary or inappropriate in this animated 3-D sequel to the 2009 hit, which made $243 million worldwide. This time, the once-peaceful island of Swallow Falls has been taken over by marauding hybrid creatures known as Foodimals. While the original film had fun with disaster-movie conventions, this one plays with monster-movie motifs, with its Shrimpamzees and Tacodiles. It’s big and loud and messy but contains nothing inappropriate – unless you’re offended by the idea of flatulence humor. (Your kids certainly aren’t.) Some of the bad food puns will make you groan, though.



Last Vegas

46%

Rating: PG-13, for sexual content and language.

I highly doubt that your kids will want to see this raunchy comedy about four 70-year-old lifelong friends (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) who get together in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. But if your kids happen to be in the room when you rent it or watch it, Last Vegas is probably suitable for tweens and up. Of course, there are some Viagra jokes, but there’s also a subplot about sanctioned extramarital activities. The guys judge a bikini contest by the pool and enjoy a wild night of carousing at a nightclub. And Kline’s character lets loose with one loud, well-timed F-bomb. Surprisingly, the movie itself is funnier and not nearly as painful as it looks, mainly because the four stars provide such great presence and chemistry.



This weekend, Sony hit the top spot in North America with its new animated sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 which grossed more than the frame’s other three wide openers combined. The PG-rated 3D pic bowed to an estimated $35M from an ultrawide 4,001 theaters delivering a $8,748 average. Compared to the first Cloudy from this same month four years ago, the sequel’s opening weekend gross was 16% higher but its average fell 10%. The original, also in 3D, was released in nearly 900 fewer locations bowing to $30.3M on its way to $124.9M, or four times its opening weekend.

Meatballs 2 had a solid debut for sure, but considering how well-liked the first film was and how empty the marketplace is right now for family movies, the opening was not stellar. A year ago this weekend, the same studio found itself with a $42.5M opening for the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania which did not have the benefit of a built-in audience. It did boast the voice talents of box office titan Adam Sandler, however the toon was not promoted as a Sandler vehicle per se.

But the road ahead for Meatballs looks promising as the entire month of October lacks new kidpics. It’s a rare case for studios to just give up on a whole month like this. Also audiences did like the new $78M-budgeted food flick as the CinemaScore grade was an A- so reaching past the $100M domestic mark is certainly possible. Reviews were decent, but not outstanding.

Falling 46% in its second weekend and landing in second place was last week’s top film Prisoners with an estimated $11.3M. The Warner Bros. release has grossed $39M in ten days and should end up with $65-70M, a solid amount for an adult drama opening in September.

Ron Howard’s Formula One drama Rush expanded nationwide after a one-week platform run and raced into third place this weekend with an estimated $10.3M. It was a respectable showing as the Universal release averaged $4,490 from 2,297 theaters. With a non-American cast and subject matter, the R-rated film was a tough sell to U.S. crowds and a marketplace filled with other options for adults did not help any. Cume is now $10.6M.

With solid buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival, stellar reviews, and an encouraging A- CinemaScore grade, Rush hopes to keep attracting business in the weeks ahead thanks to word-of-mouth. However, direct competition for adults will only get more fierce each week in October especially with Gravity starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney looking to deliver a powerful debut next weekend. Studio research showed that the 1970s-set Rush played 52% male and skewed old — 53% were 40 or above.

The comedy Baggage Claim premiered in fourth place to decent results collecting an estimated $9.3M from 2,027 locations for a moderate $4,588 average. Panned by critics, the PG-13 film starring Paula Patton as a woman determined to get engaged before her younger sister’s wedding skewed towards an audience of African-American women. Customers liked what they paid for as the CinemaScore grade was an A-.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made a modest debut in fifth place with his first directorial effort Don Jon which grossed an estimated $9M from 2,422 theaters for a soft $3,716 average. The R-rated pic about a ladies man addicted to porn who finally meets Ms. Right (Scarlett Johansson) garnered strong reviews from critics, but was rejected by those who actually paid to see the movie.

Its CinemaScore grade was a disappointing C+. That was close to the C- from Ryan Gosling’s Drive from 2011 which was another September pic centered around a hot young male star which won over critics, but got a thumbs down from ticket buyers. Sometimes quality doesn’t sell. A crowded marketplace for adult stories made things tough and the Don Jon opening was almost identical to the $8.6M bow and $3,517 average of the actor’s cancer comedy 50/50 from two years ago this very weekend.

Dropping 51% in its third scare was the hit fright sequel Insidious Chapter 2 with an estimated $6.7M giving FilmDistrict a stellar $69.5M to date. Relativity collected an estimated $3.7M for The Family, down 48%, for a $31.7M cume.

Falling 37% was the Mexican comedy Instructions Not Included with an estimated $3.4M and a total of $38.6M for Lionsgate. It now stands as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film of all-time in the U.S. surpassing Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Jennifer Aniston comedy We’re the Millers became only the second summer film this year to last for eight weeks in the top ten joining Iron Man 3, the year’s top-grossing blockbuster. The sleeper smash took in an estimated $2.9M, off 37%, for a $142.4M sum to date. Rounding out the top ten was the White House hit The Butler with an estimated $2.4M, down 42%, putting The Weinstein Co. at $110.3M.

Fox Searchlight enjoyed a solid expansion for its indie romantic comedy Enough Said starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. Widening from four to 227 locations, the well-reviewed pic grossed an estimated $2.1M for a promising $9,317 average. Enough has banked $2.5M to date. Next weekend’s expansion will see the theater count double, though it will have to lure eyeballs away from Bullock and Clooney.

The concert-thriller hybrid Metallica Through the Never opened outside the top ten with its IMAX 3D release debuting to an estimated $1.7M from 308 locations for a $5,429 average which was only moderate given the higher prices. Tickets cost as high as $21.50 each in New York City. The R-rated title earned good reviews and was distributed by Picturehouse which goes wider next weekend into about 650 playdates including conventional screens.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $94M which was down 9% from last year when Hotel Transylvania debuted at number one with $42.5M; but up 13% from 2011 when Dolphin Tale climbed into the top spot with $13.9M.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got racing rivals (Rush, starring Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl); ravenous food (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, with voice performances from Bill Hader and Anna Faris); a lovestruck lothario (Don Jon, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson); and a desperate flight attendant (Baggage Claim, starring Paula Patton and Djimon Hounsou). What do the critics have to say?



Rush

89%

The best sports movies are about more than winning or losing — they’re about the inner workings of the people that play the games. Critics say director Ron Howard‘s Rush excels both on and off the track — the racing scenes are incredibly tense, but it’s the human drama and outstanding performances that push this film into the winner’s circle. James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) are rival drivers with markedly different personalities and a shared history. As they battle it out for the 1976 Formula One championship, both drivers deal with personal traumas — and find a measure of mutual respect. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Rush is full of visual fireworks, but its nuanced portrait of two fierce competitors is what ultimately resonates. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Howard’s best-reviewed films.)



Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

71%

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a funny, exuberant surprise, so Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was probably inevitable. Still, the critics say that while this sequel lacks the freshness of the original, it’s an energetic, visually inventive family movie. After dealing with torrents of raining food in the first film, the residents of Swallow Falls now have a mess of leftovers to clean up. But Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader), Sam Sparks (Anna Faris), and the rest of the town have bigger concerns than spoilage when a veritable army of food/animal hybrids start wreaking havoc. The pundits say Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 should please the little ones, and their parents will be reasonably satisfied as well. (Watch our video interviews with the cast, and click through our gallery of the worst movie meals.)



Don Jon

80%

It’s an old adage that what every actor really wants to do is direct. However, critics say that few thespians have the natural talent behind the camera that Joseph Gordon-Levitt displays in Don Jon, a funny, insightful romantic comedy that handles tricky material with aplomb. Gordon-Levitt stars as Jon, a skilled pickup artist who falls head over heels for Barbara, a beautiful woman with more traditional views on romance. Soon, however, Jon’s porn addiction threatens to derail his real-life relationship. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Don Jon is a strong debut for Gordon-Levitt — his film is witty, visually stylish, and well acted.



Baggage Claim

15%

Some material is so flimsy that even the most experienced actors prove unable to bring it to life. Unfortunately, critics say that’s the case with Baggage Claim, a romantic comedy that’s too contrived and clichéd to make much of an impression. Paula Patton stars as a flight attendant who wants to find Mr. Right before her sister ties the knot, so she hatches a plan to use her job to meet up with her exes and determine if they’re marriage material. The pundits say Baggage Claim hits the same notes as a number of successful romantic comedies without establishing much personality of its own.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • On the Job, a thriller about a pair of prison inmates who are enlisted to commit contract killings in exchange for reduced sentences, is at 100 percent.
  • Muscle Shoals, a rockumentary about the legendary Alabama recording studio, is at 100 percent.
  • Inequality For All, a documentary about the gap in income between the rich and poor, is at 96 percent.
  • Metallica Through the Never, starring Dane DeHaan in a thriller about a young roadie who encounters a variety of strange situations and people while on a mission for the band, is at 90 percent.
  • We Are What We Are, a horror film about a family with a controlling patriarch and a dark secret, is at 88 percent.
  • Shepard & Dark, a doc about the friendship between playwright Sam Shepard and bohemian Johnny Dark, is at 71 percent.
  • Out in the Dark, a drama about a love affair between a Palestinian student and an Israeli lawyer, is at 69 percent.
  • Dark Touch, a horror film about an 11-year-old outcast with telekinetic powers, is at 60 percent.
  • Morning, starring Leland Orser and Jeanne Tripplehorn in a drama about a couple who have just experienced the death of their child, is at 50 percent.
  • As I Lay Dying, starring James Franco and Danny McBride in an adaptation of William Faulkner’s novel about a family traveling through Mississippi to bury its recently deceased matriarch, is at 42 percent.

In Theaters This Week:



Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

71%

Rating: PG, for mild rude humor.

This 3-D animated sequel to the 2009 hit, which made $243 million worldwide, finds the once-tranquil island of Swallow Falls being overtaken by marauding hybrid creatures known as Foodimals. While the original film played on disaster-movie conventions, this one plays with monster-movie motifs, with Shrimpamzees and Tacodiles taking over. It’s big and loud and messy but not terribly scary. The only thing that’s even vaguely inappropriate is flatulence humor — something that makes all kids giggle — and adults are likely to groan at the bad puns.



Baggage Claim

15%

Rating: PG-13, for sexual content and some language.

This painfully clichéd romantic comedy, which is neither romantic nor funny, finds Paula Patton playing a flight attendant named Montana Moore, who’s desperate to get engaged before her younger sister gets married. Not only does she have a deadline of 30 days to achieve this feat, she also uses her access to flights all over the country to “accidentally” bump into her exes. Moms and dads, this is a terrible message for your young girls to hear. The idea that being someone’s wife is the best way for a woman to define herself is archaic and insulting – and the most offensive part of the entire film. There’s also a cartoonishly romanticized love scene and plenty of sexual innuendo from Jill Scott as Patton’s obligatory saucy best friend.



Muscle Shoals

97%

Rating: PG, for thematic elements, language, smoking and brief partial nudity.

A hugely enjoyable, thoroughly researched documentary about the tiny Alabama town where a ton of classic music from the 1960s and ’70s was recorded. From Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett to the Rolling Stones and Traffic to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bob Seger, a wide range of acts discovered and honed their sounds at a couple of modest studios that nonetheless became legendary. Because these are rock stars we’re talking about here, captured both through archival photos and new interviews, there’s some drinking and smoking but nothing shocking. There’s also a tiny bit of nudity, courtesy of those long-haired hippie rockers the Allman Brothers. Great for older kids who are interested in music beyond insipid Top-40 radio.

New On DVD:



Iron Man 3

79%

Rating: PG-13, for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.

All the obligatory destruction you’d expect from a massive summer blockbuster — especially a sequel based on a comic-book superhero — is on full display here. It’s the stuff of computer-generated imagery but, you know, still spectacular. A rocket eviscerates Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) cliffside Shangri-La high above the Malibu shore, for example. It’s not exactly frightening stuff, but it can be harrowing. Tony’s main squeeze, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), also finds herself in peril, but finds her inner iron woman eventually. And oh yes, the whole thing is propelled by a terrorist plot, but it’s really more of an idea that provides the opportunity for us to gawk at more cool gadgetry.

Flint, Sam Sparks, Brent, and Earl are called back to Swallow Falls because Flint’s machine is churning out food-animal hybrids (foodimals). Grae Drake talks to the cast about the best invention ever made, what piece of clothing they want sprayed permanently on their body…and then something terrible happens to a marshmallow.

Watch more video interviews

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