Winter’s Bone (8/10): This is a rough thriller as we follow the indomitable Jennifer Lawrence, a 17-year-old Ozark Mountain girl, who is the materfamilias of her mentally ill mother and her younger brother and sister, as she confronts dangerous, violent people trying to find her drug-dealing father. Lawrence, a teenager herself when the film was shot, gives an award-quality performance as she appears in almost every scene, stealing scenes from more mature and seasoned performers. Director Debra Granik displays a deft touch here in presenting the hardscrabble, ramshackle mountain life. She’s helped immeasurably by the gritty cinematography of Michael McDonough.
Grown Ups (1/10): Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider, director Dennis Dugan, and writer Fred Wolf (along with Sandler) display their lack of humor in this interminable, less than juvenile, debacle about the reunion of a Catholic Grammar School basketball champion team 30 years later. This film pictures five guys with no chemistry who try to act like they are lifelong friends. The private jokes among them all fall flat. It is an exercise in ineptitude. The film wastes a couple of beautiful women, Salma Hayek and Maria Bello, as the wives of Sandler and James, respectively, but they can’t create any chemistry there, either. There are lots of easy-to-anticipate tasteless jokes, many at the expense of Schneider’s elderly wife, Joyce Van Patten (Dugan’s wife in real life).