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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Friday’s openings: Robot dogs and dead puppets

Dogs have been big in the movies of late. On Friday, the film "Alpha" — which imagines the beginning of the love affair between dogs and humans some 20,000 years ago in Europe — opened. And this coming Friday, a new generation of dog-like creatures will be at the center of yet another release.

According to the national movie-release schedule, Friday's releases are:

"A.X.L.": Alex Neustaedter stars as a teenager who befriends a robotic dog. Open the dog bay doors, Arf!

"The Happytime Murders": Melissa McCarthy and her former partner (the first puppet to get hired as a cop, voice by Bill Barretta) track down the perpetrator who is targeting the stars of a one-time television show, "The Happytime Gang." They want to discover who's, uh, pulling the strings.

As always, I'll update when the local theaters finalize their bookings.