Even when done well, the romantic comedy is easy to pick on. They’re so earnest and full of clichés and unrealistic fairy tale standards. Intelligent women have been taught that there should be a healthy serving of self-hatred with whatever enjoyment you might glean from a well-done makeover montage. You don’t have to look much further than the phrase “rom-com” (like chick-lit) to know that. The dismissive term seems to have been thrown at the genre to take it and its fans down a few pegs, as if to say, no no, silly girl, that’s not cinema or literature or even art.

“The LEGO Movie” is a hard act to follow. Its world was so fresh and vibrant and unexpected, it’s no wonder that it spawned a number of spinoffs of varying quality. But the big test was always going to be the sequel and whether or not it could recreate the magic of the first. And I’m pleased to report that “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part “ is pretty darn good, but also you can’t help shake the feeling that it’s just never going to live up to the exciting newness of the first.

In “What Men Want,” Taraji P. Henson gains the ability to hear men’s unspoken thoughts after she (1) accidentally drinks drug-laced tea; (2) dances to 2 Live Crew’s “Hoochie Mama” during a friend’s bachelorette party; (3) is knocked over by an inflatable penis; and (4) is slammed into a nightclub stage.

Creepy children are a mainstay of the horror genre. Going back to “The Bad Seed” and beyond, children have proved capable of unnerving audiences with a combination of precocious dialogue and psychopathic behavior.

No, “Free Solo” isn’t the latest “Star Wars” installment. Upon reflection, however, fans of that franchise should make sure to see this riveting film, if only to experience action and derring-do at its most high-stakes, awe-inspiring and jaw-droppingly true.

In “The Favourite,” a deliciously diabolical comedy of ill manners and outré palace intrigue, Olivia Colman plays Queen Anne, who in the 18th century ruled Great Britain while suffering through 17 ill-fated pregnancies, severe illness and not un-consequential wars with Spain and France.

The Arthurian legend gets a modern and more youthful spin in “The Kid Who Would Be King ,” a surprisingly delightful film full of action, heart, a crazy-haired Patrick Stewart (as “old” Merlin) and a few genuinely good gags, and it really couldn’t have come at a better time.

The title of “Green Book” derives from a period when African-Americans often traveled at their own risk, especially in the Jim Crow South. Unwelcome in many restaurants, hotels and other public establishments, they even faced death in “sundown” towns, where they were warned to get out before evening, or else.

If 2018 will be remembered for anything, it will be for well-executed blockbusters: From “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” to “Mission: Impossible — Fallout” and “Halloween,” audiences were treated to exceptionally smart, technically proficient, visually rich exercises in action, romance, horror and other genres whose mass appeal usually makes them immune to questions of sophistication and aesthetic taste.

The following movies are showing at first-run theaters Regal Jewel 16 (RJ16), AMC Classic Galaxy 16 (CG16) and the Waco Hippodrome (WH). Letter grades for movies are from advance reviews; an NR means a movie was not reviewed.

Two indie films with Texas connections make their debut in Waco screenings this week although independent and Texas are their main common threads. Well, both are also free.

I know what you’re thinking: “Bah! Humbug!” Can a Christmas movie that’s being released in November, well before Thanksgiving, be any good? It just so happens that the new animated version of the Dr. Seuss classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a welcome, if early, Christmas gift. You’d have to be a Scrooge to resist it.

It’s easy to see why someone would want to make a movie about Ricky Wershe Jr. His life story, the inspiration for the new, fact-based crime drama “White Boy Rick,” has it all: drugs, sex and gunrunning, plus a main character whose neck-deep involvement in all those activities — while still a teenager — is both shocking and appealingly guileless.

“God Bless the Broken Road,” named for a song made famous by Rascal Flatts, is a well-meaning, competently made faith-based drama. But good intentions and a diverse cast aren’t enough to spread the gospel beyond moviegoers already invested in God (and country music and NASCAR). And it’s unfortunate that the tribute to veterans that is so much a part of the movie’s marketing turns out to be little more than a framing device that’s dispensed with for most of the plot.

Despite a similar title, “Christopher Robin” is in no way to be confused with “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” last fall’s soberly fact-based drama about the relationship between “Winnie-the-Pooh” author A.A. Milne and his son. (Christopher Robin Milne, as you may remember, was the inspiration for the famous stuffed bear’s human companion, a small British boy called Christopher Robin.)

“The Rider,” a marvelous film by Chloé Zhao, tells the story of rodeo horseman Brady Blackburn, who, after suffering a near-fatal head injury after being stepped on by a bucking bronco, must find his place within a world where the phrase “ride or die” takes on real, high-stakes meaning.

When Melissa McCarthy, as the newly divorced, 40-something mom Deanna in “Life of the Party,” decides to re-enroll in college, my seatmate at a recent screening turned to me with a question about McCarthy’s choice of major: “What the heck is she going to do with a degree in archaeology?”

Viewers may be forgiven for being confused by Wes Anderson’s movies. Constructed with dollhouse fastidiousness, their hyper-symmetrical, squared-off tableaus dressed with gorgeous textures and color palettes — and their clipped dialogue delivered with deadpan sincerity — they depict a universe with only glancing resemblance to the real world.

“Paul, Apostle of Christ” comes from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Affirm label, an offshoot that has produced such Christian-themed dramas as “Heaven is for Real,” “Soul Surfer” and “Risen.” Less interested in blunt proselytizing than more open-ended explorations of faith and its challenges, Affirm films have gratifyingly avoided the kind of pietistic Sunday-school pageantry that characterizes so many motion pictures of the genre.

The first feature from writer-director Cory Finley, “Thoroughbreds” is a darkly comic tale — shot through with the hard-boiled fatalism of film noir — about two teenage girls in an affluent Connecticut suburb of New York.

With its title tongue-in-cheekily evoking “I, Claudius,” another epic tale of madness and debauchery, the dramatic comedy “I, Tonya” revisits — with verve, intelligence, scathing humor and more than a touch of sadness — the bizarre 1994 attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, by goons associated with the camp of Kerrigan’s athletic rival, Tonya Harding.

The following movies are showing at first-run theaters Regal Jewel 16 (RJ16), AMC Classic Galaxy 16 (CG16) and the Waco Hippodrome (WH). Letter grades for movies are from advance reviews; an NR means a movie was not reviewed.

Less a movie than a conjuring, “The Shape of Water” plunges viewers into a mossy, aquamarine world of dreams and taboo desires, its contours as a wistful fable adjusted more than slightly for very real, present-day concerns.

Could it be that Hugh Grant was born to play a villainous dandy in a kid’s movie? He certainly seems to be having the time of his life hamming it up in “Paddington 2” as a pretentious, has-been actor who’s now relegated to dressing up like a spaniel for dog food commercials. His delight is contagious.

Until this year, perhaps the greatest piece of moviemaking about Dunkirk was only part of a movie: It was a breathtaking sequence of the massive World War II evacuation, filmed in one astonishing five-minute take that dramatically punctuated the movie “Atonement,” directed by Joe Wright.

You know how Hollywood doesn’t make original movies anymore? Well, “Downsizing” is here to fix that. Weird and wonderful, zigging where it should zag and zagging where it should zig, this wildly imaginative flight of fancy strikes an admirably poised balance between whimsy, screwball comedy, social satire and generous meditation on the foibles and highest aspirations of human nature.

Waco movie multiplexes fill with horror movies as Halloween approaches and the next few days will see smaller screens at the Waco Hippodrome and McLennan Community College get into the act, one with an annual horror movie festival, the other with Waco’s own zombie film from 2008.

The title “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House” seems a built-in spoiler, but a film simply with the name of a crucial whistleblower — or leaker — in the Watergate scandal likely wouldn’t have attracted audience interest. Mark Felt? Who?

Legos were invented in 1949. The character of Batman, 10 years before that. “The Lego Movie” (2014) and this year’s “The Lego Batman Movie” riffed brilliantly on those storied histories — simultaneously mocking and honoring pop subcultures that have grown organically around millions of acts of individual imagination spurred on, in the first case, by building blocks, and in the second case, by comic books, TV shows, movies and, eventually, Batman-themed Lego minifigs (or minifigures) and construction sets.

The following movies are showing at first-run theaters Regal Jewel 16 (RJ16), AMC Classic Galaxy 16 (CG16) and the Waco Hippodrome (WH). Letter grades for movies are from advance reviews; an NR means a movie was not reviewed.

There’s a reason that Stephen King’s 1986 novel about a demonic clown who terrorizes a group of children is called “It” and not “Him.” In King’s tale, which is now a feature film, it’s not the bogeyman, but fear itself — that ephemeral, foglike, ungraspable emotion — that haunts its pages. Oh, there’s a monster in the new movie — you’d have to be living under a rock not to have caught a glimpse of Pennywise the Dancing Clown in your Twitter feed lately — but he (or, rather, it) is never one thing, taking on the form of whatever scares you the most.

If we have learned anything from the Cooking Channel, it’s that talent isn’t defined by the ingredients you use but what you do with them. By that measure, director David F. Sandberg is an alchemist of the first order, taking the base — even leaden — components of horror and whipping them into a shivery chiffon of dread.

The following movies are showing at first-run theaters Regal Jewel 16 (RJ16), AMC Classic Galaxy 16 (CG16) and the Waco Hippodrome (WH). Letter grades for movies are from advance reviews; an NR means a movie was not reviewed.

The following movies are showing at first-run theaters Regal Jewel 16 (RJ16), AMC Classic Galaxy 16 (CG16) and the Waco Hippodrome (WH). Letter grades for movies are from advance reviews; an NR means a movie was not reviewed.