The Polka King (2017)

Local Pennsylvania polka legend Jan Lewan develops a plan to get rich that shocks his fans and lands him in jail. (IMDb)
Main man Jan Lewan is a compelling lead–optimistic and ambitious, a criminal who is misguided but without malice, one who in the end welcomes his karma and consequences. The script here never digs deep into any of the crime or character-related intrigue though (instead of a suspenseful cat-and-mouse plot we get 2 maybe 3 scenes with the investigator), and the stuff on the surface never has quite enough zip (pizzazz?) to carry the film in its place. Nothing terribly wrong here, just needed more.
6.5/10 (Alright)

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

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The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. (IMDb)
It’s probably good I let this sink in a bit before rating it; it’s one of those films that as a whole is just okay (the plot’s a mash of storylines and undercooked themes and the characters either don’t develop or do so rapidly) but has lots of great moments–mostly comedic (see the sausage factory trip, Hart’s hilarious Snowball: “Ricky!”) or musical-including a good feel-good final montage set to some scrumptious throwback R&B. Desplat’s excellent jazzy score elevates a lot of other scenes.
6.5/10 (Alright)