Freeze Frame: “Downton Abbey: A New Era” (PG), “Senior Year” (R)

The second “Downton Abbey” feature film, “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” provides fans with just what they expect from their favorite British period soap opera; High-toned escapism. Multiple plot threads unfold as the dowager countess, played with her patented aristocratic spunk by Dame Maggie Smith, discovers that she has inherited a villa in the south of France from a wannabe paramour from 50 years in her past. While the family sorts all that out, a film crew invades the Crawley Estate to shoot a silent movie. They needed the cash the crass movie people offered in order to fix their leaky roof.


Writer/producer Julian Fellowes, who created the wildly popular ITV series, has elevated the level of corniness this time out and indulged in some cloying sentimentality. But fans won’t care. Bring it on. “Downton Abbey: A New Era” delivers a vicarious glimpse into a bygone aristocratic era, seen through rose-colored glasses.


Comedian Rebel Wilson has a unique, offbeat vibe that works well for supporting roles in movies like “Pitch Perfect” and “Bridesmaids.” However, she’s yet to prove that she can carry a movie as a lead and the annoying Netflix comedy “Senior Year” is no exception.


Wilson plays a popularity-obsessed woman who wakes up from a 20-year coma and decides to go back to high school so that she can fulfill her lifelong dream to become prom queen. It’s forced, artificial and often crass while providing only a few sporadic laughs. And what’s the deal with all of the fantasy dance numbers? The cast members looked like they were having a ball making this movie, so they enjoyed it a whole lot more than you will. “Senior Year” felt like it took a year to watch.

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