If you think roughly three-quarters of Hollywood’s output arrives between now and Christmas day, that’s probably because it does. Or at least it seems like it does. Thanksgiving marks the official kick-off of the holiday season, and there’s something at the box office for everyone in your family. Here’s a handy guide to the Thanksgiving weekend new releases.
What’s the story: Whither Vince Vaughn? The last two movies the patron saint of fraternities has starred in have been holiday-themed studio fare. However we’ll pretty much guarantee Four Christmases is going to be better than Fred Claus. From director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong), Christmases pairs Mr. Vaughn with Reese Witherspoon as a couple who are forced to visit the four houses of their divorced parents on Christmas day (hence the title). We’d like to sit here on our high horse and talk about how derivative this film looks, but we’d be lying if we told you that we didn’t laugh at the trailer. We can’t help it; we love Vince Vaughn! And heaven forbid anyone underestimate the box office power of Ms. Witherspoon. This film could end up pulling in Meet the Parents-type numbers by the time Christmas actually rolls around.
Who should see it: Ryan Phillippe.
What’s the story: Some of you are no doubt reading this and wondering, “there was a Transporter 2?” Sadly, there was. In number three, star Jason Statham drives and fights his way through two hours of pure nonsense. We can’t imagine anyone going out of his or her way to see this film, so clearly it will make a lot of money.
Who should see it: Your fourteen-year-old brother.
What’s the story: The sexiest man alive (that would be Hugh Jackman) and the stiffest forehead in Hollywood (that would be Nicole Kidman) star in the latest film from Baz Luhrmann. Much has been written about the making of Australia, none of it positive; from the overloaded running time, to controversy about the ending, to the many films Mr. Luhrmann steals from. Keeping the latter in mind, it might be good to brush up on The Wizard of Oz, The English Patient, Red River and Pearl Harbor before you go to the theater. Oh, and The African Queen. The reviews have been split down the middle, and even some critics who liked it have noted flaws. In his mostly positive review, Andrew Sarris calls it a “bit of a mess”. On the other end of the spectrum, Rex Reed writes that Australia is “one of the most boring movies ever made.” Ouch.
Who should see it: Michael Cimino.
What’s the story: Gus Van Sant’s take on the life Harvey Milk is one of the best-reviewed films of the year, though it almost feels like an afterthought for awards consideration. Of course, it’s not. But while novels have been written about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire and even the aforementioned Australia, Milk seems set to sail along to multiple Oscar nominations almost completely under the radar. It goes without saying that one of those nominations will be for Sean Penn, who probably could have gotten into the final five based solely on his work in the trailer.
Who should see it: Vincent Chase.