5 Movies to See and 5 To Skip This Holiday Season
I hate mediocre films. I hate them so, so much. I hate them even more than terrible movies. Why? Because unlike those drenched in passable mediocrity, bad films get punished. More often than not, awful films bomb at the box-office because anyone with moderate observational talents can see them coming from a mile away (exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-7iv6-8BRw). Mediocre films, on the other hand, slip by, make millions, and tell studio execs, “Hey, this isn’t too shabby! Let’s do more of this, because real talent costs money, and MONEY IS OUR GOD.”
So don’t waste your money this holiday season by contributing to the unholy sacrament that is Hollywood mediocrity. Instead, walk into the theater with learned insight and blow your money on something worth watching. Tastes differ, and while one man’s Troll 2 is another man’s Citizen Kane, this list will help you narrow down what to watch and what to skip come winter break.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – December 14, 2012
Oh J. R. R. Tolkien, what a world you created. The story of The Hobbit once captivated the world as much as Lord of the Rings, holding the mantel of equal instead of prequel. As such, Peter Jackson and company chose to give The Hobbit the same thematic treatment.
Considered by many to be the best of Tolkien’s novels, The Hobbit takes us back to Middle Earth before Frodo and company. Expect fantastical creatures, dazzling sword fights and the best advertisement for New Zealand tourism of all time in this latest installment. Oh Peter Jackson, what a phenomenon you created.
Zero Dark Thirty – December 19, 2012
Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman ever to win Best Director at the Academy Awards, broke the formula on war movies. The Hurt Locker is considered by many to be the most realistic portrayal of soldier-psyche and modern warfare to date, so who better than Bigelow to direct the story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden?
This movie promises to forsake chest-beating patriotism and over-the-top action for a more character-driven story behind the longest game of hide-and-seek on record. Bigelow first took us into the world of a bomb squad unit in Iraq. Now she’ll take us into one of the most definitive moments of war in the 21st century.
This is 40 – December 21, 2012
A common tell among potentially good films is a proven director who knows what he/she is doing. This list has no exception, and when it comes to comedy, Judd Apatow is the current king. Although it’s skewed toward a slightly older demographic, it stars Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Leslie Mann and Melissa McCarthy. Count on This Is 40 to be just as meaningful as it is hilarious.
Django Unchained – December 25, 2012
Quentin Tarantino. Need I say more? Yes? How about Jamie Fox, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson? More? You watched the trailer, right? Yes? THEN WATCH IT AGAIN, YOU PONCE.
Fans of Inglorious Bastards, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, and other films that evolve genres as much as they pay homage to them will love Django Unchained. It’s going to be different, but it’s also going to be violent, intense, funny, shocking, emotional and a bloody good time.
Les Miserables- December 25, 2012
I’m not ashamed to say that Les Miserables is my most anticipated movie of 2012. Based on one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century, this dramatic tale of redemption, sacrifice, lost dreams and revolution is directed by Oscar-winner Tom Hooper and features the talents of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.
In order to “add another layer of emotion,” Hooper had all actors sing on set instead of in a studio weeks later. Luckily, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway already proved they’ve got the pipes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Terhj8mjPwY#t=03m57s ) to pull it off. The visuals look stunning. The actors are phenomenal. The music is classic, and the story is powerful. Plus, I’m a sucker for musicals.
The Guilt Trip – December 19, 2012
“You know what the world wants, nay, NEEDS?” asked the movie executive, “A mom and son road-trip! A wacky comedy with hilarious moments of ‘oh that’s moms for you!’ with a dash of edginess. You know, for the younger crowd. It’ll get a little serious 70 minutes in, and by the end our adorable duo will not only love each other, but they will finally understand each other as well.” “Brilliant!” chimed his underlings, “Another smash-hit in waiting!”
There. I just saved you $10. Don’t thank me, and don’t be fooled. “Seth Rogan” doesn’t mean “Judd Apatow,” and not seeing this movie will be thanks enough.
Jack Reacher – December 21, 2012
An avenging nomad driving a red Chevy muscle car with testosterone abounding? Jack Reacher. A movie with lines like “He doesn’t care about proof. He doesn’t care about the law. He only cares about what’s right,” “One shot, one kill,” and “I have nothing to lose,”? Jack Reacher.
The whole two critics who were not only allowed, but paid to watch Jack Reacher called it a “burtally violent murder mystery.” Rated PG-13. Just Brruuttaall.
All the same, there are glimmers of hope in Jack Reacher. It’s directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects), and Robert Duvall and Richard Jenkins throw their acting prowess in the mixer, but don’t count on it achieving anything above “surprisingly decent.” Remember that intro about mediocrity? Jack Reacher.
On The Road – December 21, 2012
On The Road caught my eye when it first came across my pop-culture radar. It has all the workings of an indie hit: it is made by relatively unknown hipsters, it is based on the novel by the man who pioneered the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac, and it is filmed with a sheen of worn-out beauty. Wait, did I say it’s made by relatively unknown hipsters? Sorry, what I meant to say was Kristen Stewart is the lead actress.
Then it all starts to come together. Maybe On The Road isn’t organic after all. Perhaps it’s simply opportunistic, trying to cash in on indie popularity by taking on their idle. For shame! Skip.
Parental Guidance – Dec 25, 2012
Perhaps my previous implications weren’t entirely accurate. Hollywood executives aren’t dumb. In a way, they are more like evil geniuses than ignorant amebas. You see, they know that parents don’t have time to see many movies, what with kids and work and the crises of middle age. They know that come Christmas, they will take off work and consider a trip to the local theater to relax a bit. “Mayhaps a lighthearted comedy we shall seek,” whispers the frazzled couple on Christmas Day.
Cue Parental Guidance, a movie with everything this demographic needs to judge on a surface level and buy into. An established comic actor from days past? Check. An attractive forty-something female lead? Check. A lighthearted premise about kids these days and the toils of parenting? Check Check Check.
Please warn your parents that this isn’t how it has to be. They don’t have to get sucked into the trap set by manipulative moviemakers. Let them know there are much better ways to spend their money (see This Is Forty), and watching a comedy that makes them think beyond bat-to-penis gags isn’t only optional, it’s preferable.
Playing For Keeps – Dec 7, 2012
Please don’t watch this movie. Please. Playing For Keeps is one of the worst offenders of filmed mediocrity. A “romantic comedy” that satisfies every negative genre troupe, including but not limited to: using talented actors for a one-dimensional script, a ‘hot’ but misogynistic male character that makes a supposedly lesser sex swoon, laughably unrealistic portrayals of “love”, recycled jokes, and an embarrassingly incoherent plotline. Currently sitting with a 3% on Rottentomatoes.com, if you watch this movie, I guarantee you will go home and have this exact same conversation with yourself.
This is my Christmas my gift to you, reader. However, since almost all of these movies have yet to release, I can’t say with 100% certainty that I’m 100% certain. You’re just going to have to trust me.
Regardless, my gift is nonrefundable. Just put it on and act like you love it, wont you?