What can you do when your family has gotten so annoying that you have to physically remove yourself from the equation for fear of causing bodily harm to someone that you’ll probably have to see a weekend later for New Year’s? Well, going to the movies is always an option. Unfortunately, with the crop that’s springing up this year, you might want to sit tight and endure your familial strife, since that may just be a better option.
There are a number of movies opening between Wednesday the 22nd and Saturday (Christmas Day, typically a larger platform for wide releases). Let’s go through them quickly, shall we?
The biggest, bestest movie opening on Wednesday is the Coen Brothers’ ‘True Grit‘, which I loved to pieces. This could be a nice, rousing bit of entertainment for those looking for it. And since it’s PG-13 (with some truly R-rated levels of violence), you can bring the whole family! Yes, even grandma! (She’ll probably complain about how much better she thought the John Wayne movie was. If she does, put her in a home.)
The other big movie opening on Wednesday is ‘Little Fockers‘, which can be nothing but a terrible experience for everyone involved. I recently re-watched the first two (‘Meet the Parents‘ and ‘Meet the Fockers‘) for reviewing purposes on the main site, and I was shocked at how poorly they’ve aged. Maybe they weren’t all that funny to begin with? Also shocking: much of the second film concerns the various characters interacting with a young child (in this case, Ben Stiller’s nephew). How much more recycled can you get? And no, Jessica Alba doesn’t automatically warrant a ticket from me. (Hello, ‘Love Guru‘!)
Opening in limited release on Wednesday is ‘Country Strong‘. As far as I can tell, this is just a cheap cash-grab for last year’s ‘Crazy Heart‘ audience. Only this time… it’s Gwyneth Paltrow instead of Jeff Bridges, which is no kind of exchange. Honestly, they didn’t screen this early enough for critics, and it looks pretty meh.
Speaking of meh, opening on Christmas Day is ‘Gulliver’s Travels‘, a hip update of the Jonathan Swift tale of the same name. Of course, this time Gulliver is Jack Black and there are tons of pop culture references that will render the movie completely irrelevant in the next 18 months. While no reviews have leaked out yet, early tracking numbers suggest that nobody (and I mean nobody) will be lining up for this bad boy once Christmas presents are done and stockings are de-stuffed.
If you live in a city or town with an art house cinema, you’ll get a huge present in the form of ‘The Illusionist‘. No relation to the Edward Norton movie of the same name, this is the new film from ‘The Triples of Belleville‘ director Sylvain Chomet. It’s based on a never-filmed screenplay by the comedy great Jacques Tati, and stars an animated version of Tati. It’s about a washed up magician and his friendship with a young girl. It’s totally beautiful and heartbreaking and brilliant. It floored me, unexpectedly so. Just outstanding.