Thanksgiving. Best holiday ever. If we're going to watch a movie, it will probably be from the comfort of home — in the spirit of the occasion. But Hollywood is banking on families venturing out to the cinema over the long weekend, and they are usually right on the money. What are they going to see? It is quite a mixed bag this year and with "New Moon" sure to pull in a least the second-timers and "The Blind Side" pulling the NFL heartstrings, the #1 spot is anyone's guess.
In Wide Release: Despite starring John Travolta and being helmed by Walt Becker, "Old Dogs" is not a sequel to "Wild Hogs." Opening on 3300 screens, the movie also stars Robin Williams, fresh off a great performance in "World's Greatest Dad." The two stars play best friends who are unexpectedly put in charge of 6 year old twins while on the verge of a huge business deal. "Wild Hogs" was a big hit a couple years back, so maybe the magic will happen twice despite the terrible reviews this thing is getting. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a horrendous 8% rating while Metacritic a score of 20. Hitflix opened their review with the line, "If 'Old Dogs' were a person, I would stab it in the face." LOL.
Sharing in the lack of love is James McTeigue's "Ninja Assassin." Produced by the Wachowski brothers, the films stars Korean pop star Rain as Raizo, one of the world's deadliest assassin who seems to be caught up in some kind of international espionage/mafia/plot. We predicted that it might fail after all the hype at Comic-Con, so we're curious to see how it does this weekend. We'd love it if we had to eat our shoe, but saw it and were tempted to walk out of the theater on this one. RT has a 30 rating, with a score of 42 from Metacritic.
Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is expanding this weekend to 2000+ screens. It would make a great family film over the holiday and could use the support at the box office.
In Limited Release: Disney's "The Princess and the Frog" opens on just two screens, before a wide rollout on December 11th. Marking a return to hand-drawn animation for the studio, it also features Disney's first African-American animated princess. The early word has been very strong, we called it a resounding success, and it should play well into the holidays. RT has the film at an 86 rating, while Metacritic is slightly lower at a score of 66. Those numbers should improve as the film goes wide and more reviews are posted.
Richard Linklater's latest "Me and Orson Welles" is also out in very limited release. The film, which debuted at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, stars Zac Efron as a young actor who lands a gig at Orson Welles' Mercury Theater Company. While we like Linklater, but have never been fully satisfied with most of his work. We reviewed the film last year at Toronto and thought it was forgettable and TV-movie quality. Others have been somewhat kinder, with RT giving it a 79 rating.
Opening on Friday is Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee." We didn't know anything about it going into Toronto this year, but were very pleased with the subtle, nuanced performances. We're fans of Miller's underrated "The Ballad of Jack and Rose," which starred her husband Daniel Day Lewis and she gets an interesting cast for her followup as well. Starring Robin Wright Penn as the title character, the film also stars Blake Lively, Keanu Reeves, Maria Bello, Julianne Moore, Winona Ryder and Alan Arkin. Robin Wright Penn is terrific in the film (though probably shy of nominations), and you know who's also quite excellent? "Gossip Girl" Blake Lively, no really. We were really surprised at how adept she was with this material. While the film has a sometimes erratic tone, the performances make it more than worthwhile, and we hope to see a true masterwork from Miller one day. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a pretty decent 77 rating in advance of the film's release.