Friends have asked me whether you need to have seen The Room in order to enjoy The Disaster Artist. I'd say no, though it'd most certainly help. It'd help further if you haven't also read the book. But movies and books, as we all know, are vastly different things. And as a movie – with this opinion coming from an unbridled champion of The Room – The Disaster Artist is a more-than-frequent hoot.

Despite its a cappella rendition of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and repeated employment of the clever, catchy Unknown Hinson song “I Cleaned Out a Room (in My Trailer for You)” during scene changes, no one could mistake the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre's season-ending presentation for a musical. But in director John VanDeWoestyne's Doublewide, Texas, the character attire designed and gathered by costumer Suzanne DeReu is so eye-catching, and so abundant, that it's almost as though this lightweight Southern comedy were instead a lavish Broadway spectacle boasting a cast of 90 and special appearance by the Rockettes. And the Rockettes wouldn't have been funny.

Martin McDonagh's latest genre hybrid, the comedy/tragedy/mystery/procedural Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is a mess. As messes go, though, it's one of 2017's most confident and entertaining, and might easily reward repeat viewings more than many other far-better movies.

The last five minutes of Coco are like the first 10 minutes of Up. Stock tissues accordingly.

Last week, in my review of the marvelous family drama Wonder, one of my few gripes concerned the implausible drama-club scenes, and I wrote, “Movies never seem to get school theatre right.” Clearly, bitching occasionally pays off. Because less than a week later, I watched writer/director Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird get school theatre exactly right – which wasn't shocking, in retrospect, considering this coming-of-age comedy appeared to get everything right about damn near everything.

Ten-year-old me would've been woozy with excitement at the prospect of a Justice League movie. Having sat through Zack Snyder's deadening Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, nearly-50 me was just praying that the Snyder-helmed Justice League wouldn't suck. And it doesn't. But I really should've been more specific, because I forgot to also pray for this superhero saga to be good.

If you saw Wonder over the weekend – and based on the film's unexpectedly massive box office, a bunch of you likely did – you may have seen it alongside a hefty number of elementary- and middle-school students. If so, I hope you experienced this family melodrama the way I did during my sold-old screening: hearing, with immense gratitude, a young crowd cheer and applaud a cineplex entertainment that wasn't a superhero epic, a Disney reboot, a Pixar animation, or anything that involved robots transforming into cars.

Plenty of better movies have been released this year. But few of them, for my money, have been more delightful surprises than Branagh's Orient Express, a showcase for Christie's fastidious Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot that initially seemed deeply unnecessary at best and tragically misguided at worst.

Last fall's Doctor Strange showed that there were vast, unexplored opportunities in terms of shaking up presentation, with its battle sequences thrilling precisely because they were so unpredictable. This summer's marvelous Spider-Man: Homecoming demonstrated the enormous benefits of going smaller, simpler, and more human. Ragnarok, by contrast, never stops feeling familiar, and even its more out-there flourishes, such as the priceless eccentricity of Jeff Goldbum, don't have long-term impact – they're distractions that momentarily amuse and vanish into the ether.

I probably would've had a better time at A Bad Moms Christmas if it reminded me more of last year's Bad Moms and less of last month's Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.

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