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Movie Preview: December 2011

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It’s that time of year again. While the snow may not be falling in my neck of the woods yet, the awards season is ramping up. And while the cinematic presents may seem few and far between, that doesn’t mean the month will leave you out in the cold. While nothing of true note may be opening until December 16, that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth waiting for.

December 2

Sorry, literally not one new film opening. Plus, there wasn’t a single new offering anyway. Nothing to see here folks, moving along…

December 9

While Valentine’s Day was absolutely one of the worst films of 2010 doesn’t mean that the “creators” of that monstrosity shouldn’t try capitalizing on yet another holiday. Now you get New Year’s Eve. You’re welcome. Poor Gary Marshall is still out to prove just how much he’s forgotten about how to make a great romantic comedy, or even just a fun movie. Long gone are the days of Pretty Woman, Beaches, Overboard, Nothing in Common, The Flamingo Kid or even Frankie & Johnny. Something sure seems to have sucked the life out of ol’ Marshall during the ’90s and he’s never recovered.

Look no further than Exit to Eden, Dear God, The Other Sister, Runaway Bride, Raising Helen, The Princess Diaries 2, Georgia Rule, and the aforementioned Valentine’s Day. The first Princess Diaries was a small trifle compared to the rest of those. Let alone that writer Katherine Fugate seems to think that having Katherine Heigl (one of my most hated celebrities) crack jokes about there being “more celebrities here than rehab,” or poor Sofia Vergara being degraded into making jokes about how big her boobs are. I will hopefully never have to bear witness to what befalls audiences here. However, if New Year’s Eve were this movie, I could get behind it.

Meanwhile, Jonah Hill makes his final onscreen fat appearance in a movie that just screams Adventures in Babysitting ripoff – The Sitter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But when it comes from the same guy who used to direct the likes of George Washington, All the Real Girls, Undertow, and Snow Angels, apparently being friends with the Apatow Crew is a more surefire way to keep your day job. Even while the law of diminishing returns could be used against him. Pineapple Express was a surprise hit all things considered, and while I’m in the minority who enjoyed Your Highness, you can’t help but wonder about this one as the studio refuses to screen it. Guess we’ll just have to wait for Hill’s hilarious looking 21 Jump Street to see the freshly weight lost Hill back in action.

December 16

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. First there’s an artsy fartsy headed our way reuniting the team behind Juno: Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman. While Reitman has more hits on resume than Cody, together there seems to be something grand between the two of them. A full review of Young Adult will be up next week once the film gets its wide release. Also today, we get the return of everyone’s favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes, who’s up against his arch nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Jude Law and Rachel McAdams return as well for A Game of Shadows with the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself, Noomi Rapace, along for the ride. With a trailer featuring as many slo-mo action sequences as anything released by Zack Snyder, a sense of fun and wise-cracking seems to be headed our way once again with Guy Ritchie seeming to be fully enjoying his deserved turn in the Hollywood spotlight. Game on!

Also out, in an IMAX exclusive release is Brad Bird’s (Iron Giant, The Incredibles) ascent into live action with a little movie you may have heard of, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. (Expanding to a wide release on December 21.) After a bombing in the Kremlin, super spy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and company go rogue to clear IMF’s name. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames return while Ethan’s newest cohorts consist of Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner, who may or may not be taking over the series’ reigns after this installment. Also be on the lookout for Josh Holloway, Tom Wilkinson, and Michael Nyqvist. If the teasers and trailers are any indication however, there’s still too much life in the series for it to end here. And with producer J.J. Abrams touting Bird’s IMAX footage as “mind-blowing,” it’s just further proof that if they decided to end things here, at least they seem to be going out with a bang.

For the kiddie set, there’s yet another entry to the dreadful Alvin and the Chipmunks series. Some day studios will learn that this live-action/CGI hybrid stuff just doesn’t work. But alas, audiences keep flocking, the rest of the world keeps suffering, and Jason Lee will keep getting work. Too bad My Name is Earl was canceled bringing him back to this dreadful looking fiasco. This time the crew finds themselves Chip-wrecked (hardy har har) on a deserted island where they seem to bide their time waiting for rescue singing Lady Gaga songs. As if some of her work wasn’t already annoying enough, we should never have the “opportunity” to feast our ears upon her playlist by way of the Chipmunks.

December 21

In the interest of there being six big movies opening within four days, we’ll keep the rest of this shorter and sweeter. Today we get two of the most highly anticipated films of the season, along with two high profile directors, but two wholly different features, both featuring protagonists on a mighty quest. In Steven Spielberg’s first foray into motion capture technology comes his adaptation of Hergé’s beloved Adventures of Tintin. While the Secret of the Unicorn subtitle has been dropped, screenwriters Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) will be making sure they keep things on a grand scale. On the flip side of things, David Fincher returns to his darker roots with his Hollywood version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. With Daniel Craig stepping in as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara taking over as Lisbeth Salander, we’ll see if Fincher can one up the original Swedish version of Stieg Larsson’s acclaimed novel.

December 23

When you haven’t released a film in six years people are going to hold you up against your yesteryears. For Cameron Crowe, this means the ilk of such films as Say Anything…, Singles, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous. While I am a fan of one of his two lesser but more recent affairs (Vanilla Sky, not Elizabethtown), when you have Matt Damon in the lead, you could probably make any kind of film you wanted. What Crowe has decided to bring us is an adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s true life account of uprooting his family to a zoo to spend their days. Hilarity and lots of heart will undoubtedly prevail.

December 25

There have been lots of horror movies released on Christmas Day. So finding a 3D alien invasion flick headed our way should come as no huge surprise. I still remember going to see The Faculty on the year’s biggest holiday, even if I was one of extremely few. Coming from the man who directed a great little horror diddy already, Right at Your Door, we’ll see if Chris Gorak can make due with producer Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) behind him as aliens attack Moscow and Emile Hirsch must save the day in The Darkest Hour.

Films about 9/11 have started to dwindle as of late, but thankfully none of them have been anywhere near as cinematically abysmal as Remember Me. Thankfully for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a writer (Eric Roth of Forrest Gump) and director (Stephen Daldry, Billy Elliot) with some class have been brought on to direct a grade-A cast (Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis). Newcomer Thomas Horn may have won Teen Jeopardy but now he’s making the leap from the small screen to the big one to portray young Oskar Schell who’s in search of the lock that a key from his father (Hanks) left behind after dying in the 9/11 attacks. Heartstrings will be pulled but I suspect the sentiment will be real for a change.

And finally, Steven Spielberg gives us a second helping of cinema with his big screen epic adaptation of War Horse. When Michael Morpurgo’s novel has already been brought to us on stage with puppets and five Tony Awards no less, I’m sure Spielberg will find a way to make sure his film is of the grand scale it deserves. Having screenwriting masterminds Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral) can’t hurt either. I’ve heard the scope of the film is everything old school in both Hollywood and Spielberg so my fingers are crossed that the 147 minute runtime is well deserved.

With nothing opening after Christmas Day until 2012, there’s clearly already way too much headed our way anyway. With the Thanksgiving films hopefully holding over as well, there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied with too many worthwhile films to see. Have a safe and happy holiday everyone and we’ll see you next year!

Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.