Even though the raunchy comedy Good Boys, like the Jonah Hill/Michael Cera slapstick Superbad, is about nerdy best friends prepping for a party and boasts Superbad screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg as producers, I didn't spend much time at the new film reflecting on its 2007 cousin. I did, however, think a lot about Bugsy Malone, Alan Parker's 1976 kiddie musical that imagined a stereotypical 1930s gangster flick cast entirely with teens and tweens.

Ordinarily, it's the sort of movie I'd casually dispose of in a couple hundred words at the end of a series of reviews – a chaser after time spent on more worthy subjects. This past weekend, though, saw Hobbs & Shaw the only new offering in wide release, so I suppose a few hundred extra words are in order. That shouldn't be a problem, though. There's so much here to hate.

There are certain things, many things, we've come to expect from a Quentin Tarantino movie, and unless John Travolta is jump-starting one with a shot of adrenaline, heart isn't exactly among them. That's why the primary shock of the writer/director's ninth feature Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is that it's positively teeming with heart – an unabashed love letter to Tinseltown fringe figures of a bygone era who, as the fairytale title suggests, are eminently deserving of Happily Ever Afters.

At about the 90-minute mark of director Jon Favreau's two-hour remake of The Lion King, we're finally (finally!) treated to a sequence that's visually rapturous, narratively transfixing, slyly touching and funny, and thematically transcendent all at once – everything that you wish Disney's new CGI behemoth was, and isn't, on a scene-by-scene basis.

If there's any rule-of-thumb regarding high-concept movies, it's that their appeal – and, oftentimes, their plots – can be succinctly described on the fingers of one hand: “violent Nanjiani/Bautista action comedy,” for example, or “killer alligators in a hurricane.” In effect, those respective precis tell you everything you need to know about Michael Dowse's Stuber and Alexandre Aja's Crawl – except, perhaps, that both films are even more entertaining than those grabby five-word descriptions might suggest. Not a lot more, mind you … but entertaining enough, during my recent double-feature, to make me not regret the collective three hours spent in their high-concept company.

Midsommar, the new cinematic freakout by Hereditary writer/director Ari Aster, opens with barely withheld sobs and closes on the image of an ear-to-ear grin – and despite the unsettling, emotionally raw 140 minutes in between, you might find yourself exiting the theater smiling just as hard.

I should probably be knocking wood as I type this. But if my heart ever suddenly stops while you're in the vicinity, don't call for a defibrillator – call for Danny Boyle instead.

Is this latest franchise entry enjoyable? Absolutely. Is it frequently clever and touching and sweet? For sure. Is it well-animated? Duh. But does it feel the slightest bit necessary? Nope. Does it enrich the inner lives of beloved characters we've known for decades? Not really. And is it in any way a more satisfying end – or “end” – to the Toy Story series than 2010's seemingly conclusive third chapter? No way.

I read an article this past weekend devoted to our current, collective state of franchise fatigue, with the disappointing domestic box office for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The Secret Life of Pets 2, and Dark Phoenix cited as proof that audiences are getting tired of seeing the same ol' things in newfangled packaging. What that “Are franchises finally over?!” piece failed to suggest, though, was that maybe these particular sequels weren't making major bank because they're just not good. And the third sequel to 1997's Men in Black might be the not-good-est of them all – an exhaustingly manic and just-plain-exhausting reboot to a series that should have ended with 2012's surprisingly clever Men in Black 3. The only real surprise here is that cleverness is in such depressingly slim supply.

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