You’re all thinking it, so let’s just come out and say it: this is the most unexciting holiday movie schedule we’ve ever seen.
Look at last year’s slate: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “King Kong,” “Walk the Line,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “The Chroni(what?)cles of Narnia,” “Syriana,” “Rent,” “The Producers.” Now look at this year’s list: The part of Harry Potter and “Lord of the Rings” will be played by “Eragon,” which is at least a three-step drop on the Badass Wizard scale. Does anything coming out this year hold up? Let’s break it down by target audience.
The ‘all horror, all the time’ trend is still in full swing, with “Turistas” (our nickname for it is “Tropical Hostel”) opening the month and a remake of “Black Christmas” closing it. We have a conspiracy theory about these travel-abroad-and-die movies being secretly funded by an extreme right-wing group that wants to build giant walls all around the US border, but this isn’t the time or place.
The most curious call is that “Turistas” is opening the same weekend as “Van Wilder Deux: The Rise of Taj.” Both movies are targeting the same audience, with little other competition than each other for the rest of the month. It seems the smart move would have been for one of them to wait a week, but hey, what do we know. Maybe they’re both afraid of opening against “DOA: Dead or Alive” (12/8), though we’re not sure why, since that movie’s been bumped about five times already.
Aside from “DOA,” which is more Victoria’s Secret cheesecake than action, there ain’t much in the action arena. Maybe everyone’s steering clear of “Déjà Vu” (11/22), because the next closest things to an action movie are “Rocky Balboa” and “We Are Marshall”…and they both open on the same day (12/22). Two sports movies on the same day? Best of luck, gents.
And while we’re talking about “Rocky Balboa”…we’re just not feeling it. There was talk that Quentin Tarantino wanted to resurrect the franchise, but this doesn’t look like what Q had in mind. And remember, it’s been 22 years since Rocky Balboa threw a plausible punch. Color us skeptical.
Movies that “Matter”
Of course, this is the most plentiful category. From Edward Zwick’s “Blood Diamond” to Steven Soderbergh’s “The Good German,” there’s lots of importance, self-importance or otherwise, to go around. And let us not forget Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson’s “Apocalypto,” the Mayan sacrifice fugitive movie that the world’s been allegedly waiting for. It may be as good as or better than “The Passion of the Christ,” but they’re nuts if they think it will make the same kind of money. Simply put, we can’t see rousing support from the church community for a movie about a bunch of Mexican-born pagans.
And someone needs to explain to us why “The Good German” is coming out the week before “The Good Shepherd.” If people were mistakenly walking into “The Aristocrats” last summer thinking they were going to see dancing cats, then there’s going to be all sorts of confusion at the multiplexes over these two. One stars George Clooney (“German”), the other Matt Damon. Aren’t they supposed to be in the same movie planning a heist or something?
Something for the Kids
Turns out we were wrong. There is an 800-pound gorilla this season, and its name is Dakota Fanning. Is there a single December movie that’s poised to rake in more coin than the live-action remake of “Charlotte’s Web”? Other pundits predict that Ben Stiller’s skeletons-run-amok flick, “Night at the Museum,” will be the big hit of the season, but we’ll believe that when we see it. The big question is: why did DreamWorks open “Flushed Away” so early? Was everyone really that afraid of Dakota Fanning and “Happy Feet”?
Hey, we had to put “Dreamgirls” and “The Children of Men” somewhere. First of all, can we get a “hell yes” for Eddie Murphy showing some onions for the first time in over a decade? A fictional James Brown? This is too good to be true. Let this be a lesson, Eddie: play to your strengths, not the lowest common denominator. Meanwhile, “Children of Men” is a pretty bleak Christmas movie, centering around a world where women have stopped giving birth. But the director is Alfonso Cuarón, who made the best “Harry Potter” movie to date (that would be “The Prison of Azkaban,” if you were curious) and “Y tu Mama Tambien,” so our curiosity is definitely piqued.
But piqued is one thing. OMG-I-must-must-MUST-see-that-movie is another. And this year has none of those. Come back soon, Peter Jackson. The world needs you more than it ever knew.