8 Movies In 6 Days Wrap-Up The Holidaze - Week 8 Preview | Django Unchained | Les Miserables | Zero Dark Thirty

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8 Movies In 6 Days Wrap-Up The Holidaze - Week 8 Preview

Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Zero Dark Thirty
Jack Reacher
Parental Guidance
This Is 40
The Guilt Trip
Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away
It seems to happen every year around this time where you think there's just one more thing you need before you can truly be ready for the holidays. This year, Hollywood's doing their best to make you think there's not one more thing you're missing, but eight. Yes, because releasing six films around Christmas Day last year made for five underwhelming returns, the studios decided the only way to top that was to get seven underwhelming returns this year!

We've just had three weekends where only a single "hit" movie has been released. Could none of these eight films been better served by being released when there were less options? Do we really need two comedy films based around aging stars? We couldn't have just gotten Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, and Barbra Streisand into the same movie and called it a day? Oh no, that Midler posse would never see a Streisand movie and vice-versa.

Let's start with Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the 10-year pursuit of Osama Bin-Laden. Kathryn Bigelow's film seems certain to win numerous accolades, yet can it even achieve the $100 million plateau of Lincoln? For all the media praise of The Insider, the movie still failed to make $30 million in 1999. While this may be the smartest flick in the bunch, this is the same season that's made the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise over half a billion dollars.

What happens after you direct the first two Shrek movies and the first two Narnia movies? You direct a circus movie. Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away is the latest 3D event produced by James Cameron. Since audience didn't warm-up to his scuba divers in a cave premise during Sanctum, he thought voice-less acrobats would be easier for viewers to connect with. Director Andrew Adamson will do what he can, but lacking an ogre and lion, there's not a lot he's been able to accomplish.

Tom Cruise really did pull off the impossible last year with Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Insiders and outsiders doubted the prospect of reviving a faded franchise with a perceived faded star, yet his fourth M:I flick was the #2 movie of the season. Can Jack Reacher pull the same trick twice? It's Tom Cruise in an action movie, though clearly very scaled down from his hanging from the tallest building in the world days. If moviegoers feel Django Unchained is too esoteric, this is the most likely all-encompassing film they'll find. Recognizable star, recognizable action, and it doesn't take place in Middle Earth. That's check, check, and check for many... Ooh, based in Pittsburgh? Let's uncheck one of those.

This is 40 might refer to what you need to be drinking to keep watching Judd Apatow movies. While they often have some big laughs and some real heart, they're the longest comedies on the planet! While many a hipster loves them some Paul Rudd, you're asking them to hire a babysitter and sit through more than two hours about how hard it is to be a parent and still be their own person? You don't think they know that? They blog about it from Starbucks while listening to Mumford and Sons. They haven't been their own person in years!

Django Unchained was originally going to star Will Smith. As always, when faced with a potentially controversial movie and an interesting director, he decided to make a Men in Black movie instead. Well played, Fresh Prince. Jamie Foxx is never one to shy away from any paycheck, as Stealth can concur, so he plays the former slave in the title role looking for the men who kidnapped his wife. Outside of True Grit, westerns have been anything but an OK Corral, though director Quentin Tarantino's flair should help liven the box-office possibilities.

Les Miserables may run the risk of disappointing audiences by casting names in roles where they were fine with nobodies before. Much like Mamma Mia played better with an unknown stage cast that was 15 years younger and could actually sing, will viewers be taken out of the experience by seeing Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe in roles made memorable by others? More importantly, where's our David Guetta/Calvin Harris Les Miz remix album?! That's what the masses really want. Sure, there's death, desperation, war, revolution, and poverty everywhere, but can you dance to it?

Finally, we're left with our The Guilt Trip and Parental Guidance AARP double feature. Look, one of my favorite comedies ever is Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal in Peter Bogdonovich's What's Up Doc, but all three of those people are nuts and Barbra even starred as the title role in Nuts. The whole idea behind The Guilt Trip seems nuts as it feels like a Lifetime movie with Jane Seymour and Jason Priestley.

Then again, if we're going to question the current box-office weight of Streisand and Seth Rogan, what's to make of a Billy Crystal/Better Midler pairing in Parental Guidance that would've seemed relevant sometime after City Slickers and Ruthless People? Crystal hasn't headlined a picture since Analyze That 10 years ago. The last show Midler headlined was her "didn't make it one season" self-titled TV series in 2001.

Look, I'm all for employing people of all-ages. I just want them to be allowed to do something interesting. They've paid their dues, entertained millions, and deserve better than hand-me-down scripts and by-the-numbers numbers. If the British can give their legends The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, we should at least be able to offer ours The Pretty Good Arousing Evergreen Embassy Suites.

Join us on the Wednesday after Christmas to see if any of the new films could unearth The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey!

by Matt Neuenburg on 12/21/2012

Movies Mentioned in this Post: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away, Django Unchained, Jack Reacher, Les Miserables, Parental Guidance, The Guilt Trip, This Is 40, Zero Dark Thirty
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