2013 Holiday Movie Pool Preview | The Hunger Games: Catching Fire | Frozen | The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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2013 Holiday Movie Pool Preview

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Frozen
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Thor: The Dark World
American Hustle
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
The Wolf of Wall Street
Saving Mr. Banks
The Best Man Holiday
Last Vegas
Ender's Game
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Free Birds
Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas
47 Ronin
Walking With Dinosaurs
Delivery Man
Grudge Match
Homefront
About Time
Black Nativity
Oldboy
Out of the Furnace
If it's already time for Trick or Treating, than the 17th Annual Holiday Movie Pool must be just around the corner! Hollywood's prepared plenty of both this season. Now it's just a matter of figuring out which is which.

Is Thor: The Dark World a treat that'll bask as an Avengers dessert or trick of Heimdall this and Asgard that? Are we supposed to need CliffsNotes to watch a frickin' superhero movie?

Is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire a treat that'll remind us why we liked Katniss Everdeen in the first place or a trick for thinking the movies could live up to the books?

Is The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug a treat because any chance to return to Middle Earth is worth it or a trick because they're holding things back to make an unnecessary third film?

Make your predictions, cast your votes, and take a dip in the 2013 Holiday Movie Pool! It's the pool where all you have to do is guess the Top Five moneymakers of the season. You don't have to guess how's going to fall over during their red carpet premiere or who's going to break-up with who.

In case if you don't know what's coming out for this holiday season of 2013, here's a quick run-down of this year's crop!

*****

November 1
- Ender's Game
The Holiday Season starts off with a big-screen version of a 30 year-old book. Why does this sound like there's going to be a test afterwards? Ender is a child who's been trained to lead Earth's last chance against alien invaders. The movie's marketing team has been trained to tell us Harrison Ford is "Academy Award Nominated" because said by no one, "I kinda wanted to see 'Six Days, Seven Nights,' but I don't think Harrison Ford's even ever been nominated by for an Oscar." Will Ender's Game end with a sequel or with a Game Over?

- Free Birds
I'm not sure how to feel about this animated movie about turkeys travelling back in time to try and keep turkey off the annual Thanksgiving table. I mean, I like turkey and I like taking naps, so why would I want to put a stop to one of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions that directly leads to the other? Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler man (and woman) the voice booth in this film that might become the most awkward annual Thanksgiving tradition if it becomes a hit.

- Last Vegas
It's The Hangover meets The AARP! Theaters are sure to up the price of their senior discount tickets as Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, and Kevin Kline aim to show that no one parties like an old old-school party. I'm just looking forward to Wham reuniting to remake their Last Christmas song: "Last Vegas, I gave you my heart. The very next hour I grabbed a-flier-from-the-creepy-little-guy-on-the-Strip. Next year, to save me from irritation-when-I-urinate, I'll give it to someone special... special"

November 8
- About Time
From Richard Curtis, the writer of the English romantic comedy classics Four Weddings & A Funeral, Notting Hill, Love Actually, oh... and Mr. Bean, comes his latest offering about a man who finds he' s a time traveler and has to keep trying to meet the love of his life for the first time. Um, ok. His track record with Hugh Grant is amazing. His track record without (since this film fall in that category) is as previously mentioned... Mr. Bean.

- Thor: The Dark World
Poor Thor. TV ads still feel like they have to sell him as an Avenger because way more people saw him in that film than in his first solo movie. He's like the Joe Walsh of superheroes. Sure, he was in the Eagles, but he'd been rockin' the guitar before for years! Would I go see a solo Joe Walsh concert? Eh, life hasn't been that good to me so far. The bigger issue is that this is, believe it or not, the first super hero movie released in the Holiday Movie Pool... EVER! How is that even possible?! (No, I'm not counting The Spirit, Punisher: War Zone or Blade: Trinity and neither should you). Will Marvel show it can make its money in any season or will it find coal in its Viking helmet?

November 15
- The Best Man Holiday
I'm not going to lie and say I saw The Best Man, yet I'd felt it came out just a few years ago (which says more about my denial of time passage than anything else). Instead, it was released all the way back in 1999 and I never connected that it was like The Breakfast Club for African-Americans! In fact, almost all the main players actually had better careers than any of those Brat Pack actors. Well done Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Terrance Howard, Sanaa Lathan and Harold Perrineau! That doesn't mean I'll be checking this one out, but at least I'm not running away screaming like I would a Judd Nelson flick.

November 22
- Delivery Man
Vince Vaughn has taken it on his imposing chin with his last couple comedies, The Dilemma and The Internship. Wisely taking a break from the word "the" which was clearly sending the wrong message to moviegoers, here Vince plays a man who realizes he's fathered 533 children from a sperm donation he'd made 20 years earlier. Wow, it would've taken Mötley Crüe a whole world tour to pull that off.

- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I thought The Hunger Games had already caught fire. The question is, after 18 months since the first movie, does it still have the mojo to flame on? Especially since the first movie/book is a pretty straight-forward teenage version of The Running Man, the rest of the stories deal with the mythology around the "Games." Now, if it was anything along the lines of what goes on inside the Olympic Village during those games, that'd be fantastic. If it's more about a hopeless dystopian society, then that's why you cast Jennifer Lawrence to help get people to care instead of Joey Lawrence.

November 27
- Black Nativity
While the title would lead one to think it's an African American version of the 2006's The Nativity Story, it's based on a successful modern-day set play which deals with some of the themes found in the nativity story without actually being a recap of Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Featuring an also successful cast of Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, and Tyrese Gibson, let's hope it's also more successful than The Nativity Story as somehow telling "The Greatest Story Ever Told" didn't seem so great when they tried to make it realistic.

- Frozen
Disney struck princess gold again with Tangled in 2010 by dropping all the "princess" references in the marketing campaign and completely hiding the fact it was a musical. Take it from the dad who couldn't convince his boys to go see The Princess & The Frog in 2009 (then again, after seeing it later on DVD, they were right). Looks like they're following the same path with Frozen which looks literally like Tangled on Ice (not to be confused with the real Tangled on Ice that Disney's probably touring around the country... seriously, who goes to these things?!). Will they find the same charm the second time around or will this one leave audiences cold?

- Homefront
After the first Expendables movie, I really wrestled with whether Sylvester Stallone was a good writer but a terrible director or a terrible writer and a good director. Now I'll get my chance to focus solely on his writing ability as he's penned the screenplay (pen, crayon, whatever) for this Jason Statham thriller. Jason stars as an ex-DEA agent who tries to retire to Small Town America with his young daughter... but he's picked the wrong town. Dun Dun Dun! They say they don't write them like they used to... This sounds like it was exactly written like they used to.

- Oldboy
It's a Spike Lee Joint remake of the 2003 Korean classic with Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen (the baby sister of the Olsen Twins and the only one allowed to act in grown-up movies). It's the tale of a man kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years who obsessively pursues his captors after his release. Hollywood's been trying to push Brolin as a leading man for years and the public has pretty firmly rejected the premise so far. Will they buy him in this role or just wonder why Nicolas Cage isn't playing this exact same character for the 437th time?

December 6
- Out of the Furnace
Do you remember last Holiday Pool when Brad Pitt starred in the mob thriller Killing Them Softly that was released the week after Thanksgiving Weekend? Neither does anyone else, so the odds aren't good for this year's mob thriller being released the week after Thanksgiving staring Christian Bale. Is there like some factory just turning out these mob thrillers on an annual basis? They close the Twinkies factory but they keep this one open?!

December 13
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Yes, the ongoing saga of how Hollywood took one 300 page book and turned it into three movies. While the joke still fits about how all these Tolkien movies are like being on a guided tour ("We're walking... We're walking..."), their box-office results have never been questioned. Sure, the first Hobbit didn't quit reach Lord of the Rings levels, yet $300 million is $300 million. Only Twilight and James Bond kept Bilbo Baggins from reaching #1 last pool. Is there something else that can stop him this season... You know, besides sore feet?

- Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas
At some you just have to hand it to Tyler Perry. He casts his Madea movies like he's casting Dancing With The Stars! Just a perfect mix of "What?" "Who?" and "They're still alive?" For Madea's Witness Protection he dusted off a cornucopia of Tom Arnold, Denise Richards, Eugene Levy, Doris Roberts, and Marla Gibbs. Now he's grabbed former One Tree Hill heartthrob Chad Michael Murray, Sister Act's Kathy Najimy, Blair from The Facts of Life: Lisa Whelchel, and Larry the Cable Guy from... well, Larry the Cable Guy. The plot, as it is, has Madea visiting a different Small Town American than Jason Statham visited in Homefront and spreading Christmas cheer as only she/he can.

December 20
- Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Will Ferrell returns to the news desk nine years after the first Anchorman and he's bringing his Channel 4 News Team with him to an all-new 24-hour news network. Though Anchorman wasn't Ferrell's biggest hit, perhaps it's had the highest re-watch-ability. We'll see if there's still enthusiasm for this 70's caricature in the 80's or if that's why All In The Family had to become Archie Bunker's Place... because he just didn't fit anymore.

- Saving Mr. Banks
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as NOT Nanny McPhee? Alright, I think I'm onboard this Hollywood-ized version of how Walt got P. L. Travers, the Mary Poppins author, to sign-off on letting him take her character and make a musical movie version. Making a behind-the-scenes version of one of the most iconic movies in history is always fun. Perhaps this can become a whole genre for Disney and the next one they do will be Saving Puberty Love: the behind the scenes making of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

- Walking With Dinosaurs
Speaking of Disney, they released their first computer animated movie in 2000, Dinosaur. It didn't go over really well as there were no flying carpets, talking candelabras, or Celine Dion songs. It did have a depressing plot and a bizarre monkey mating tree orgy however, so there's that. 13 years later, we have the technology to make a computer animated movie that actually looks like it's a live action film, which brings us to Walking With Dinosaurs. You would've thought they learned long ago that no one cares about dinosaur movies unless they have Jeff Goldblum in them, but no.

December 25
- 47 Ronin
I'm aware of the American Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Day, yet is there something about watching Japanese Samurai movies on Christmas that I'm missing? Keanu Reeves stars as the once banned warrior who needs to reunite the 47 leaderless samurai after their master is killed by an evil overload (as opposed to the happy-go-lucky overloads we're used to). Wait, I thought Tom Cruise was The Last Samurai in 2003? Is ten years an allowable time span before we have another "last" something? So confused.

- American Hustle
Following up on his Silver Linings Playbook success, director David O. Russell brings back Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper while adding Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner into the mix. It's nice to have friends! Bale plays a con-man used by the FBI to infiltrate the Jersey mob. Why don't they use him to infiltrate the Real Housewives of New Jersey too? That show's more criminal than anything the mafia's doing.

- Believe
As a present to his fans, Justin Beiber is offering his latest concert documentary on Christmas Day. That's weird. I would've thought most of his fans these days would've just wanted their two front teeth. Nothing really positive has happened to him since Never Say Never. He's not in One Direction and he hasn't dated Taylor Swift. Besides, as his original fans have gotten older, they might have learned they actually can say "never" and it sounds pretty good when another desperate cash-grab is all that's being offered.

- Grudge Match
I really hate myself for thinking this might actually be good. Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro play two extremely retired boxers who get asked to finally finish the match they didn't have 30 years earlier. I'd completely forgotten about De Niro in Raging Bull until I saw him in boxing attire again. Is it wrong that this almost feels like the exact premise of Rocky Balboa (aka Rocky 6) which was supposed to be taken seriously? Yup, probably.

- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I'm really tired of all the movie synopsis I'm reading that keep saying a film's based on a "classic" something when I've never even heard of the original material. Not that I'm the center of the universe, but Tale of Two Cities, Shakespeare, Archie & Jughead: classic. TNT once tried to tell us Another Stakeout was a "new" classic. Just because something exists doesn't make it a classic! Oh, it was written by James Thurber and according to Wikipedia "is one of the most frequently anthologized short stories in American literature." Alright, this one might be on me. Regardless, Ben Stiller stars and directs this film that epitomized the Thurber protagonists (see, you can tell I was reading something on Wikipedia, right!) as an everyday nobody who continually gets lost in his daydreams until one day he needs to live out an actual adventure in the real world.

- The Wolf of Wall Street
Everyone talks about the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp love fest, however no one's mentioned the Martin Scorcsese/Leonardo DiCaprio collusion: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island and now The Wolf of Wall Street. If given the choice, I'm pretty sure Martin would've opted for Leo over Michael Jackson in the Bad video too. This movie covers the real life rise and fall story of a Wall Street wunderkind. You know, just the type of film everyone likes to see around the holidays... if they hadn't lost their house and could afford to see a movie about the people that helped them lose it. But hey, as long as he ends up as a better person in the end, all of those 99 percenters suffering was worth it.

by Matt Neuenburg on 10/25/2013

Movies Mentioned in this Post: 47 Ronin, About Time, American Hustle, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Black Nativity, Delivery Man, Ender's Game, Free Birds, Frozen, Grudge Match, Homefront, Last Vegas, Oldboy, Out of the Furnace, Saving Mr. Banks, The Best Man Holiday, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street, Thor: The Dark World, Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, Walking With Dinosaurs
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