★★½ (out of four) “Brian and Charles” (PG; 90 minutes): By premise alone, the man/robot buddy dramedy “Brian and Charles” may remind some viewers of “Finch,” Apple TV Plus’ similarly themed 2021 movie about the relationship between a lonely engineer and the high-tech android companion who helps him resolve his daddy issues. But this appealing if slight fable tugs on a different set of heartstrings. Like Charles himself (and maybe Brian, too), the movie is an odd hodgepodge of a story: a sweet, eccentric misfit, just waiting for someone to find it, and love it, despite its flaws. Full review here. Multiple theaters. — Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post
★★★ “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (R; 107 minutes): Writer, director and actor Cooper Raiff delivers an ingratiating turn as a cheerful lost soul in “Cha Cha Real Smooth,” a post-college coming-of-age story of intergenerational lust and the rocky road to adulthood. This sweet-natured if wispy comedy-drama doesn’t give “The Graduate” a run for its money, as a generational touchstone or a generator of deathless lines of dialogue like “Plastics.” But it does have charm to burn, chiefly through Raiff’s protagonist Andrew, a recent Tulane graduate who has returned to his home in Livingston, New Jersey, where he hopes to raise enough money to join his girlfriend in Barcelona. Full review here. SIFF Cinema Uptown. — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
★★ “Lightyear” (PG; 105 minutes): The “Toy Story” films, once an almost perfect trilogy, were already stretching toward infinity and beyond with “Toy Story 4,” a nine-years-later sequel that was perhaps propelled less by a need for narrative closure than it was box-office imperatives. What’s compelling “Lightyear” is harder to say, but there is a bland, vaguely “Planes” feeling here that smacks of a straight-to-video spinoff. So should “Lightyear” have been a feature film or a Pixar short? The answer is very much the latter. Full review here. Multiple theaters. — Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
“Mad God” (not rated; 83 minutes): In “Mad God” — a stop motion animated horror film directed by Phil Tippett, who’s known for his award-winning visual effects works — The Assassin descends into a forbidding world of tortured souls, decrepit bunkers and wretched monstrosities forged from the most primordial horrors of the subconscious mind. Grand Illusion Cinema.
★★★½ “The Phantom of the Open” (PG-13, 106 minutes): “The Phantom of the Open,” a dramedy loosely based on the true story of Maurice Flitcroft, a British crane operator who somehow managed to compete in the 1976 British Open despite never having previously played a round of golf, isn’t a terribly deep or even important story. But despite its light subject matter, “Phantom” is about something more than an obscure British folk hero (although it is also that). It’s a story about following your passion, not because of the heights this path will take you to, but because it makes you happy. Full review here. Meridian 16. — Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post