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There are good movies in theaters now and on home video

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2 2014 3:15 p.m. MST

Also in theaters are the World War II melodrama The Book Thief (PG-13), which is notable primarily for Geoffrey Rush’s ingratiating performance, and Philomena (PG-13), the true story of an elderly woman’s search for the infant son she was forced to give up, buoyed by the luminous Judi Dench.

And these films that are available on DVD and Blu-ray:

The Way Way Back (PG-13). This is the sleeper of the year, a coming-of-age comedy-drama about an unhappy young teen spending the summer at the beach house of his mother’s controlling boyfriend. Well-drawn characters, and comedy and drama in equal dollops — until Sam Rockwell comes on the scene as a mentor to the boy and handily steals the show with a warm and hilarious performance.

42 (PG-13). The true story of baseball phenomenon Jackie Robinson (a knockout performance by Chadwick Boseman), who broke the color barrier with help from Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (wonderfully played by Harrison Ford).

Mud (PG-13) is the name of Matthew McConaughey’s character in this dark comedy-drama where two young boys come across a criminal on the run in Arkansas and decide to help him. McConaughey is great and the film is filled with atmosphere and terrific supporting performances.

The Company You Keep (R for language) is another fine Robert Redford film (he stars and directed) that was rather overlooked this year, perhaps because it’s not merely a thriller. Redford plays a lawyer with a secret past who is forced to go on the run to clear himself. Sterling all-star support helps this thoughtful exploration of ethical behavior, responsibility of the press, and especially friendship and loyalty.

The Sapphires (PG-13), a winning comedy-drama with lots of toe-tapping songs, based on the true story of a down-and-out talent scout (Chris O’Dowd at his best) in Australia during the 1960s who signs a pop-singing quartet of Aboriginal girls and takes them on a tour of Vietnam to perform for the troops.

And though I’m not much for zombie movies, to my own surprise, I’m including two that deserve to be seen: the gripping, very scary zombie-plague thriller World War Z(PG-13), starring Brad Pitt, and the surprisingly well-modulated zombie spoofWarm Bodies (PG-13), which actually plays out as a salute to humanity, something you don’t expect to see in a film like this.

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." His website is www.hicksflicks.com

Email: hicks@deseretnews.com

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