This Weekend At The Movies (Nov. 23-27)

This Weekend At The Movies comes to you a little early since the major movies are opening today for the long Thanksgiving weekend ahead.  So after you finish stuffing yourself with turkey, mashed potatoes or whatever food coma-inducing goodies you’ll be having tomorrow, you can head out to the theater and see a movie with the family.  Here are the new cinematic offerings for your holiday weekend.

THE MUPPETS

MP’s PICK OF THE WEEK

Written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.  Directed by James Bobin.  Starring Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones and the voices of Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel and introducing Peter Linz as Walter.

On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world’s biggest Muppet fan, his brother, Gary, and Gary’s girlfriend, Mary, from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets’ former stomping grounds.  Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways, to stage a telethon and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater.

I have to admit to not being a huge fan of The Muppets.  I don’t dislike them by any means, I’ve just never really grew up entrenched in all things Muppets.  I do remember watching  the Muppet Babies cartoon a lot but for whatever reason, The Muppets have mainly stayed on my periphery for the most part.  I’ve seen some of the movies but it wasn’t until I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, written by Jason Segel, that I wised up to the idea that puppets could be used in a really cool way and that it was actually a pretty cool artform.  I was made aware of that because of Jason Segel’s love for The Muppets.  His Dracula puppet musical was pretty frickin’ awesome.  Though to be fair, my friend Mel’s love for the Muppets was also an influence.  So I was really happy to hear that Disney had approached him to write a new Muppets movie.  It’s a passion project for him, as well as for director James Bobin.  All this love for the Muppets behind the scenes definitely bodes well for creating something worthy of Jim Henson’s classic creations.  It’s also why I’m really excited to see this new film.  I want to see what Segel and Bobin have in store for us.  They’re talented guys and there’s a lot of goodwill surrounding them on this project.  I’m all for The Muppets making a big comeback.  With a lot of manufactured family films being made these days that lack inspiration and creativity, I’m in full support of The Muppets’ hopeful outlook on life in this sometimes cynical world.

HUGO

Directed by Martin Scorsese.  Starring Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Emily Mortimer, Ray Winstone, Jude Law and Christopher Lee.

Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan, Hugo, who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.  His adventure will transform Hugo and all those around him as he finds a safe and loving place to call home.

I’m uncertain how into Hugo I would be.  The trailer doesn’t quite capture me but Scorsese shooting in 3D does provoke some interest, let alone the fact that this is Scorsese’s first family oriented film.  While none of the marketing wins me over, I think I would be remiss if I did not take a shot at Scorsese’s first foray into the third dimension.  He seems utterly captivated by it and thinks it to be an asset to the future of filmmaking.  I’m not sure I agree with him just yet as I don’t think there have been many filmmakers that have shot in 3D with the intention of using it as an artistic tool to set a precedent.  Perhaps that is what Scorsese will help do with this film and I’m kind of curious to see how a master filmmaker utilizes it in a non-gimmicky way.  If you are going to see this film, I highly recommend paying the extra bucks to see it in 3D.

ARTHUR CHRISTMAS

Directed by Sarah Smith.  Starring the voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Laura Linney, Eva Longoria, Robbie Coltrane, Joan Cusack and Rhys Darby.

Arthur Christmas reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child’s question: ‘So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?’ The answer: Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole.  At the center of the film is a story about a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.

From Aardman Animation, the guys who brought you Wallace & Gromit, comes a new CG Christmas adventure.  If it wasn’t for Aardman’s involvement, I might have completely written off Arthur Christmas.  It’s not because it looks terrible, it’s just up against a lot of other more high profile films this season.  I could see myself giving the blu-ray a spin next holiday season but I highly doubt I will see this at the theater unless the reviews for it are just startlingly glowing.  It looks like it could be a fun animated Christmas movie and looks safe for the whole family.

THE WOMAN

LIMITED RELEASE

Written by Lucky McKee and Jack Ketchum.  Directed by Lucky McKee.  Starring Carlee Baker, Sean Bridgers, Pollyana McIntosh, Lauren Ashley Carter and Angela Bettis.

Family man and lawyer, Christoper Cleek, must do what he can to protect his family when he comes into contact with a feral woman living in the woods near his isolated country home. Through a series of harrowing encounters, Cleek and his family quickly discover there is more to this woman than anyone would suspect and that sometimes the devil wears a handsome face.

Lucky McKee is a bit of an oddball horror director, though a talented one at that.  I’ve seen May and The Woods and thought them both to be pretty interesting films.  The Woods is easily my favorite of his films and is just a great horror film unto itself.  While The Woman definitely looks like an unconventional horror film, there seems to be quite a lot of positive word of mouth surrounding the film and I’m eager to check it out.  This is definitely not a movie you will see playing wide so you’ll have to keep an eye out for it at independent or arthouse theaters more than likely.

THE DESCENDANTS

LIMITED RELEASE

Directed by Alexander Payne.  Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie and Beau Bridges.

Matt King, an indifferent husband and father of two girls, is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki.  The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.

I’ve not been much of a follower of Alexander Payne.  His movies just haven’t really connected with me.  I am interested in this one though, as it does look pretty good, and having Clooney in it definitely helps my interest.  I’ll try to catch this at the theater but I’m not in a rush to do so.

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