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What to watch this weekend: ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife,’ ‘King Richard,’ ‘tick, tick … BOOM!’

  • November 18, 2021

Will Smith dives into the Academy Awards conversation starring in a sports biopic as tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams’ father, while the beloved 1980s “Ghostbusters” franchise returns old favorites Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson for a new sequel. In addition, Vanessa Hudgens pulls triple duty again for the latest in Netflix’s “The Princess Switch” franchise – plus appears alongside Andrew Garfield in a Jonathan Larson musical – while influential author Kurt Vonnegut gets a documentary about his life and work.

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

Holiday movie preview:10 new films you can’t miss, from ‘West Side Story’ to new ‘Spider-Man’

If you’re really into Will Smith and/or tennis: ‘King Richard’

Much like he did for the title icon of “Ali,” Smith disappears into the character of Richard Williams, a devoted but controversial tennis dad dedicated to making champions out of daughters Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton). While the rousing and inspirational 1990s-set story misses chances to delve deeper into its subjects, Smith gives an outstanding performance, as does Aunjanue Ellis as the girls’ steady and quietly strong mom.

Where to watch: In theaters and on HBO Max

‘King Richard’ review:Will Smith’s inspirational, imperfect tennis dad is Oscar-ready

If you’ve still got Slimer bed sheets: ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’

The “Ghostbusters” franchise is one that could use a fresh coat of paint, and director Jason Reitman (original director Ivan’s son) infuses some youth in the new sequel, which focuses on an OG Ghostbuster’s granddaughter (Mckenna Grace) taking on spooks and dark forces in small-town Oklahoma. Yet still, perhaps more than ever, this thing is stuck in the past, bringing back old stars (Murray, Aykroyd and Hudson) as well as stale story beats and plot points for a disappointing new chapter.

Where to watch: In theaters

Review:Bustin’ doesn’t feel good in ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife,’ a frustrating franchise retread

If you’re a connoisseur of musical theater: ‘tick, tick … BOOM!’

National treasure Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his directorial debut with this vibrant adaptation of “Rent” creator Larson’s autobiographical musical. Garfield stars as a talented New York theater composer approaching his 30th birthday and stressing out about writing the last song in his long-gestating sci-fi rock musical, to the detriment of his personal life. Garfield is amazing alongside a cast featuring Alexandra Shipp, Hudgens and a bunch of Broadway icons in a story about creativity, inspiration and mortality.

Where to watch: Netflix

Review:Lin-Manuel Miranda’s creativity astounds again with Netflix musical ‘tick, tick …BOOM!’

If you prefer more than one Vanessa Hudgens at a time: ‘The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star’

In the third installment of the holiday romantic-comedy series, a priceless star once owned by St. Nicholas is brought to fictional Montenaro for a yuletide party and stolen, and identity-swapping BFFs Queen Margaret and Princess Stacy (both played by Hudgens) enlist Margaret’s troublemaking lookalike cousin Fiona (also Hudgens) and her dashing criminal ex (Remy Hii) to get it back. The high jinks are predictable, and Hudgens gets many chances to play characters acting like other characters.

Where to watch: Netflix

If you’re hungry for a freaky slice of folk horror: ‘The Feast’

The slow-burn Welsh chiller centers on a family at their mountain estate having an important dinner with a businessman trying to score a deal to mine nearby land (which has a mythical legend attached to it) for oil. Annes Elwy stars as the mysterious waitress hired at the last minute to help out at the soiree, and her peculiar presence unnerves some of the participants and has others acting in strange ways. It’s a fright fest with an interesting ecological bent and an absolutely gruesome payoff.

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

If you’re a literature nerd: ‘Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time’

Those who view “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Cat’s Cradle” as sacred texts will want to check out this engrossing and touching documentary/labor of love about the late Vonnegut that director Robert B. Weide has been working on for four decades. Their friendship gives the film underlying emotion while also delving into Vonnegut’s early years, his time as a World War II POW that proved inspirational for his work, and why the writer’s satirical prose has captured the imagination of generations of young fans.

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

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