Capsule Movie Reviews (July 11): 'A Long Way Down' and two more

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A Long Way Down
R, 1 HR., 36 MINS.
A bright cast spackles this uneven Nick Hornby adaptation about a quartet of suicidal strangers (Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, and Imogen Poots) who meet on a London rooftop one New Year’s Eve and quickly become a fractured family. With an ace troupe like that, there are affecting moments, to be sure. But the movie criminally wastes Sam Neill and Rosamund Pike in barely there supporting roles, and the picture has exactly two tones: grim and gooey. They do not coexist harmoniously. (Also available on iTunes and VOD)  –Jason Clark

Affluenza
NR, 1 HR., 24 MINS.
It’s better going into Kevin Asch’s (Holy Rollers) second directorial effort not knowing it’s a recession-era retelling of The Great Gatsby — that’s one less way for it to disappoint. Fisher (Ben Rosenfield) leaves his ordinary life behind to stay with his ultrarich uncle (Steve Guttenberg) on Long Island, where his cousin (Transformers: Age of Extinction‘s Nicola Peltz) introduces him to a crowd of moneyed, unsupervised teens who are into drugs, drinking, and fluid sexuality. The generational conflict — overly ambitious parents and their disaffected millennial children — plays so on-the-nose it almost seems like satire, but it’s really just bad writing. (Also available on iTunes and VOD) C-Stephan Lee

Happy Christmas
R, 1 HR., 22 MINS.
Jenny (Anna Kendrick) is the kind of person for whom irresponsibility comes naturally, and when she moves in with her brother (director Joe Swanberg) and his wife (Melanie Lynskey) post-breakup and pre-yuletide, it disrupts their lives in ways both bad and good. Swanberg’s naturalistic, improvised style — like Cassavetes but, like, with a lot more “likes” — lets the conflict come about organically, repeatedly putting the characters in situations to which they could react with clichés but instead go with something more empathetic and nuanced. That doesn’t stop the movie as a whole from feeling a little slight, though, like a Christmas tree that isn’t entirely filled out. (Available on iTunes and VOD; in theaters July 25) BKeith Staskiewicz

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