When you think Christmas, do you think major religious holiday or big bucket of popcorn? I’m a movie-on-Christmas girl, so I’ve been checking out this year’s big Christmas releases. And I have to say, I wish I was a little more excited about them.
In this soft economy, Hollywood executives are probably hoping for a repeat of Christmas day last year, when moviegoers spent $9.5 million on Alien v. Predator — Requiem. Or they’d really love a replay of 2004 when Christmas celebrants spent $19.5 million on Meet the Fockers. (Because nothing says Christmas like an exploding RV toilet.)
This year’s crop doesn’t give us alien showdowns or mismatched family wackiness, but we do have some dogs and Nazis. So let’s take a look at the offerings to assess what’s worth seeing.
Marley & Me
Marley & Me gives us Jennifer Aniston and a really cute lab puppy (played, of course, by approximately a zillion puppies) that grows into a beautiful dog. The dog is difficult, but the family learns lessons about life and love and loss. And Kathleen Turner is in it, so how bad can it be?
According to the reviews, it could be pretty bad. However, as a newlywed with a difficult dog — who is snoring as I write this — I can relate, and might see it for that reason alone.
Adam Sandler tells bedtime stories to his sister’s kids and the next day the stories come true … in some form or another. Hilarity ensues. (The hilarity, btw, includes Adam Sandler spraying a store clerk in the face with some type of Christmas tree aerosol and, in a different scene, getting kicked in the shin by an angry dwarf.)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald story, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the story of a man who lives his life backward. Ultimately there are lessons to be learned about understanding life in retrospect and living in the moment. Blah, blah, blah … but all I keep thinking is that it’s really just the story of Mearth, Mork and Mindy’s half-Orkan son.
There’s really only one thing drawing me to the movie — the cast. First, it co-stars Cate Blanchett, and I would pretty much watch her onscreen reading the phone book for two hours. And then it features Tilda Swinton and Julia Ormond, so not interested vs. really amazing cast.
This is a movie version of a graphic novel about a dead cop who comes back to life as “The Spirit” to clean up his city. I don’t really get it. But as StuntDouble recently noted, the movie is full of femme fatales — and prominently features Sarah Paulson as Ellen Dolan, “the whip-smart girl next door,” which is pretty much how I describe my ideal woman.
So, even though I’m not a graphic-novel person and this is pretty much getting panned all around, it might be a winner in my book.
There’s nothing like a good Nazi movie for the holidays, I always say. Valkyrie, the Nazi movie in question, is the story of Major Claus von Stauffenberg and the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. It’s interesting history and chock-full of action and adventure and Tom Cruise. It’s tricky to make an action/suspense movie compelling when you know it ends depressingly, so I’m curious to see how well they did it. But there’s still Tom Cruise.
Finally, there’s Revolutionary Road, which opens the day after Christmas and reunites Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as a middle-class suburban married couple living lives of quiet desperation.
Leonardo DiCaprio always seems like a teenager pretending to be a man to me. But Kate Winslet is another one that I could watch for two hours reading the phone book. (Perhaps she and Cate Blanchett should make a movie in which they read the phone book to each other.) I suspect this is the best movie of the lot, but I’d still like to be more excited about it.
So, we have six vaguely underwhelming Christmas movies peppered with some fantastic actors. Ergo, I’m going to give them all a miss on Christmas and will go see Doubt, instead.
What about the rest of you? Are you more excited about any of these than I am?