Movie Reviews: He Named Me Malala, Just Let Go, Pan | Buzz Blog
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Movie Reviews: He Named Me Malala, Just Let Go, Pan

Also: 99 Homes, Walt Before Mickey, Highway to Dhampus, Mississippi Grind

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Would-be inspirational movies hit Utah theaters in a bunch this week, as summer frivolity gives way to fall seriousness.

The documentary He Named Me Malala (pictured) profiles activist Malala Yousafzai in a way that humanizes her just enough to make it frustrating that it still feels too hero-worshipping. Just Let Go takes the true story of an Ogden LDS bishop struggling with a family tragedy and allows the inspirational elements to be swallowed up by sluggish pacing and a surprise revelation. Highway to Dhampus combines beautiful images of Nepal with a welcome focus on actual Nepalese characters, yet never finds a character arc that's truly compelling. Walt Before Mickey takes the early career of Walt Disney and reduces everything spiky and interesting about the guy into a twinkly, pre-digested tale of plucky determination.

Eric D. Snider praises Rahmin Bahrani's 99 Homes for its mix of acid-tongued humor and genuine emotion in exploring the moral side of the 2009-2010 mortgage crisis.

Danny Bowes notes that the narrative coincidence of the gambling-milieu drama Mississippi Grind still proves effective, thanks in part to the strong central performances.

In this week's feature review, the goofy fantasy of Pan crashes thanks to its ridiculous attempt to connect its hero-quest "origin story" to the famous boy who never wanted to grow up.