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What to watch this weekend: ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ Netflix’s ‘The Starling,’ new ‘My Little Pony’

  • September 23, 2021

fall movie season is just getting cooking, though, with theaters open and new films still streaming at home.

This weekend, Ben Platt reprises his Tony-winning role in the movie adaptation of a hit Broadway musical, Melissa McCarthy takes on tragedy and an annoying bird in a new dramedy, the “My Little Pony” franchise gets rebooted anew with a Netflix animated film, young women tussle in the competitive French ballet world in a new dance drama, and Dan Stevens is the perfect robot boyfriend in a German sci-fi romantic comedy.

Here’s a guide to new movies that’ll satisfy every cinematic taste: 

‘See the movie’:‘Dear Evan Hansen’ director has no doubts about Ben Platt’s casting

If you’re a Broadway nut: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

The Tony-winning show gets an adaptation via director Stephen Chbosky – with original stage star Platt – although the results are not great. The tale of the awkward title teen (Platt), who concocts a friendship with a late classmate to help his grieving family but also finds accidental popularity, boasts hummable tunes and a message of empathy exploring issues of mental health. However, the movie version fails to capture the energy of the stage show and instead is simply a middling teen drama with random people singing.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you’re a Melissa McCarthy super-fan: ‘The Starling’

Directed by Theodore Melfi (“Hidden Figures”), the sentimental dramedy stars McCarthy as a woman still dealing with the grief of losing her infant daughter and having to work hard to maintain a relationship with her husband (Chris O’Dowd). Having a little bird attack her constantly in her garden pushes her to a breaking point, but she finds support in a former therapist (Kevin Kline) who’s now a veterinarian. The metaphors and emotional manipulation are obvious, but McCarthy and Kline’s performances give it some wings.

Where to watch: Netflix

If you’re obsessed with ‘Black Swan’: ‘Birds of Paradise’

Sex, backstabbing, blind ambition, seething jealousy, dance moves that would cause normal people to injure themselves – Sarah Adina Smith’s drama has everything you’d want in a ballet film. Diana Silvers and Kristine Froseth star as rival dancers at an elite French ballet academy battling for a coveted spot in the Opéra National de Paris. The two grow close as friends (and more) before the competition puts them at odds in an entertaining narrative with fantastical ballet sequences.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

If your kids need something fun to watch: ‘My Little Pony: A New Generation’

Those looking for Rainbow Dash and Applejack are at the wrong “Pony” party, pal. The animated movie – and a rather clever musical one – introduces a bunch of new characters like Sunny (voiced Vanessa Hudgens), an Earth pony who yearns for the old magical days where her ilk lived in harmony with, instead of being fearful of, pegasi and unicorns. Naturally, she goes on a fantastical journey with new pals like horned Izzy (Kimiko Glenn) and winged Zipp (Liza Koshy) to reunite all of pony kind.

Where to watch: Netflix

If you like humorous explorations of humanity: ‘I’m Your Man’

In Maria Schrader’s splendid futuristic twist on the usual rom-com – which is officially Germany’s entry into the upcoming international-film Oscar race – Maren Eggert stars as a scientist who’s pretty much given up on love. In order to score some important funding for a research project, she signs up for a three-week experiment partnering her with a dashing humanoid machine (Dan Stevens) programmed to service her wants and needs in a sneakily deep relationship flick.

Where to watch: In theaters

If you’re really desperate for a Western: ‘Apache Junction’

The premise of the Wild West film – San Francisco reporter (Scout Taylor-Compton) comes to outlaw-infested Arizona town circa 1881 – is decent enough but is gunned down by a dull narrative and hokey dialogue. The female journalist runs afoul of Army soldiers who are supposed to be protecting and serving and finds a white knight in a wanted gunslinger (Stuart Townsend), though what the movie really needs is way more scenery-chewing from country music star Trace Adkins as an ornery old Army man.

Where to watch: In theaters and Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play

If you love ‘Rocky’ and/or ’80s nostalgia: ‘This Is the Night’

Writer/director James DeMonaco, who created the dystopian-horror “The Purge” franchise, takes an intriguing detour into coming-of-age territory with this 1982-set drama about a Staten Island teenager (Lucius Hoyos) and his Italian American family finding new courage on the day the highly anticipated “Rocky III” is released in theaters. While a bit more serious than you’d expect given some of the “one crazy night” shenanigans, it’s got plenty of heart and feel-good aspects to go around.

Where to watch: Apple TV, Vudu

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