December Preview: ‘Playing for Keeps,’ ‘This is 40,’ ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Les Misérables’

Monthly Movie Preview – December 2012

The year of 2012, a span of months that included both Good Deeds and Looper, is nearly complete. After an autumn of award season contenders (Lincoln) and strict blockbusters (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2), we now enter the final month that features strong mixes of the two, with movies like Django Unchained or This Is 40 playing to many expectations. The same can be said for a movie like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which carries the excitement of director Peter Jackson’s return to the Lord of the Rings franchise for fan hype as well as award assumptions. And as many film critics groups begin to cast their ballots in the coming weeks, filmgoers will have an even bigger ideas of which end of the year events will be checking out overall more than others.

December 7

Movie of the Week

Playing for Keeps

The Stars: Gerard Butler, Uma Thurman, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid
The Plot: A former soccer star (Butler) coaches his son’s soccer team in hopes to put his life back together, but is distracted by the women on the sidelines.
The Buzz: This charcoal dark horse for “Best On-Screen Dirtbag” at the MTV Movie Awards is built with a cast of stars who “need to coach their kids’ soccer teams to help put their lives back together,” if you know what I mean. And by that I mean I’m not sure where these actors listed above have been, but they sure haven’t been putting in solid work on the big screen in years. Could this be the return of Thurman? Or, if such is possible, could this off a solid and sympathetic character for Butler?

The Others:

The Central Park Five  – Documentary

December 14

Movie of the Week

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Elijah Wood
The Plot: A short man with hair on his feet (Freeman) ventures to a mountain with some dwarf friends in hopes of reclaiming treasure from a dragon.
The Buzz: Jeff Bayer and I have this unwritten “He Said, He Said” about the two great trilogies – Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Since we last talked about this debate he might have changed his tune, but he did say he thinks Lord of the Rings is a better franchise. Well, I think he’s wrong. However, director Peter Jackson is taking Jeff’s side, proudly making three movies from one single book that came before the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that sure, this could be like Fellowship of the Ring. But then it could also be like Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and then we all lose, for three movies straight. Considering that The Hobbit is only one book long, would part one of three be the beginning of an exhaustive new trilogy?

The Others:

Hyde Park on Hudson – Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Samuel West
Beauty is Embarrassing – Documentary

December 21

Movie of the Week

This Is 40

The Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Albert Brooks, Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox
The Plot: A semi-sequel to the movie Knocked Up, this time following husband Peter (Rudd) and wife Debbie (Mann) as they try to have a happy marriage while raising two kids (Iris and Maude Apatow) in their forties.
The Buzz: Of all the other movies Judd Apatow has been a part of (Superbad, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Funny People), Knocked Up might be the least obvious choice to get a “semi-sequel,” but it seems to be a testament to his dedication to his characters, or at least Apatow’s interest in maturing stoner comedies to middle-aged heights. And don’t expect many other Knocked Up folk to return, as Apatow has tweeted himself, “A lot of KU characters died.”
The Others:

The Impossible – Tom Holland, Ewan MacGregor, Naomi Watts
Rust and Bone – Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
Jack Reacher – Tom Cruise, Werner Herzog

December 25

Movie of the Week

Les Misérables

The Stars: Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe
The Plot: A group of singing French people are miserable in post-revolutionary France.
The Buzz: Former Kings Speech director Tom Hooper swings for the fences post Oscar domination by going the musical route, this time with a twist that has people already giving kudos to a movie they haven’t seen – everyone sang live on set. Set to be one of the last major releases of 2012, let’s hope that this musical ends this wild year on good note (swish!).

The Others:

Django Unchained – Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Jonah Hill
Parental Guidance - Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott
Promised Land – Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Rosemarie Dewitt

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