It’s a week before Christmas, and you know what that means: Awards bait and would-be blockbusters are rolling onto megaplex screens everywhere to joust for your holiday dollar. Here’s a quick run through the newest releases.
“The Fighter“: David O. Russell’s generic boxing movie pits naturalistic performances from Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams vs. over-the-top Method madness from Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. And as far as I’m concerned, everybody loses … though a number of my colleagues (and several other critical orgs) are going gaga for Bale and Leo.
“How Do You Know“: James L. Brooks’ latest attempt to build a movie out of a handful of random character notions and a couple of one-liners is not the worst thing he’s ever done, but I’m pretty sure it started out as more of a drama than it is now. When Owen Wilson is a more appealing screen presence than Paul Rudd, there’s something terribly wrong with your film.
“Rabbit Hole”: The last thing I expected from John Cameron Mitchell, the director of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus”, was intimacy and restraint. But I agree with Susan; he’s done a remarkable job with this devastating drama about a couple trying — and mostly failing — to cope with the sudden death of their young son. Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman are absolutely terrific as the leads, and Dianne Wiest and newcomer Miles Teller are pretty great, too.
“Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale“: A drilling expedition in a Finnish mountain range opens Santa’s tomb, unleashing some decidedly non-festive chaos on a nearby village in Jalmari Helander’s oddball comic nightmare. Slow to start, but the last third is fantastic.
“Tron Legacy”: The good news? The effects are fantastic, the 3D looks great and Jeff Bridges doesn’t just phone it in. The bad news? Joseph Kosinski’s long-awaited sequel is an overlong, underwritten light show that — just like Steven Lisberger’s 1982 original — fails to unlock the potential of its innovative premise. And that’s a shame, because the first 30 minutes suggest a way to go that might have worked really well.
“Yogi Bear”: Anna Faris? Love her. Tom Cavanagh? He’s charming enough. And T.J. Miller has impressed the hell out of me on “Doug Loves Movies”. I’m glad they’re being paid and everything, but the very thought of seeing this movie makes my skin crawl. So we sent Rad instead, the poor bastard.