Yes, I realize I spent last week complaining that there were no good Thanksgiving movies. But there’s still a bunch of time off around Thanksgiving, and a lot of time to fill once the turkey dinner’s done. If you’re planning a trip to the multiplex, here are some of your movie options:
The animated Christmas film comes from Aardman Animations, the delightful studio that brings you all the Wallace and Gromit shorts and movies. This offering isn’t stop-motion clay animation like Wallace and Gromit (and, in my opinion, looks a lot uglier), but the behind-the-scenes look at Santa’s operations — and the mission they have to undertake once a present is left behind — will hopefully bear some of Aardman’s trademark British humor.
I’m interested in this because it seems to fly in the face of everything you’d need to make a successful movie today. It’s Frnech, it’s silent (or near-silent), and it’s not even in full widescreen. If you ever wanted to know what it’d be like to see an old silent movie, try to find this one — it’s going to be in limited release.
Remember, circa Batman & Robin, when George Clooney movies weren’t all that great? I think what turned it around for Clooney was a refusal to work with anyone but cool, interesting directors. (After Batman & Robin, he did movies with Steven Steven Soderbergh, Terrence Malick, and the Coen Brothers.) The Descendents is no exception, being directed by Sideways and About Schmdt’s Alexander Payne. The subject matter is right in Payne’s wheelhouse, too, being about a man going through a mid-life crisis after his wife is put on life support.
Happy Feet Two
Oh, 2005 and 2006 were happier years, when the economy wasn’t so bad, and the country was caught in the grips of Penguimania after the release of March of the Penguins and Happy Feet. Happy Feet Two hopes to capitalize off mid-decade nostalgia. Only instead of being about a penguin who wants to dance in a society of penguins that’d rather sing, the sequel is about a penguin who wants to fly in a society of penguins that dance. Who knew penguin society was such a monoculture?
This is a first: Martin Scorsese is directing a full-length movie for kids (and the parents who love them). For his first foray into family entertainment, he picked good source material: the award-winning and generally beloved The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. But even though that book is fantastic, I want to go just to see how Marty can tell a story without all the cursing.
Immortals photograph by Jan Thijs © 2011 War of the Gods, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
With few big-name stars and a heavily-male-skewing subject matter — Greek gods and Greek titans and mere mortals fight things — this movie surprised the industry when it claimed the No. 1 spot at the box office when it opened. But I’m secretly glad, because the director, Tarsem Singh, always makes visually stunning movies (this one included) and made one of my favorite little-seen films, The Fall. Oh, and since I love saving you a few bucks, I’ll also say that the conventional wisdom on this one is that the 3D isn’t essential — unless you like seeing 3D blood splashing in your face.
The reviews for this Clint Eastwood-directed J. Edgar Hoover biopic haven’t been stellar, and it won’t be the Oscar movie that producers might have hoped for. But you might want to check it out if there’s a history buff in your life.
Jack and Jill
You know if you’re an Adam Sandler fan or not — and, to enjoy this movie, you pretty much have to be a fan. Critics found it to be pretty bad, and the box office numbers show that moviegoers pretty much agree. But it’s only rated PG, so it might do the trick for a youngster that you want to steer away from the R-rated head-crushings of Immortals.
The Muppets photograph © The Muppets Studio, LLC
Really, the title should be enough of an enticement. Do you know anyone in the entire universe that doesn’t like the Muppets? This is where my movie-ticket money is going this weekend, and I know that I could invite anyone I’m related to or friends with and they’d want to come along.
My Week with Marilyn
If you want to get a jump on your Oscar-bait movies, we hear good buzz about Michelle Williams’s portrayal of Marilyn Monroe. This one might be in limited release, though, so you might have to do some searching to find it.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part One)
Is that the clunkiest movie title you’ve ever heard? Well, reviews of the film are starting to trickle in and (spoiler alert) we’re sure the scene in the entire series that people are most curious about — the big vampire-baby birth — happens in this film and not the next one. If that isn’t enough to get you into a Twilight movie, nothing is.
What are you planning on seeing? Let me know in the comments.