1. The Muppets (Buena Vista, 3440 screens, 120 minutes, Rated PG): Perhaps the most anticipated major release this holiday weekend, at least around the Film Buff Online offices, is the return of the Muppets to the big screen after far too long an absence. The advance word on this is really strong and this could be their best film since the passing of the creator Jim Henson back in 1990.
Jason Segal stars as Gary who journeys to Hollywood with his muppet brother Walter and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) to visit the old studio that the Muppets used to perform their popular TV show only to discover that a greedy businessman (Chris Cooper) has plans to demolish the studio to get at a big reserve supposedly buried underneath. The three set out to reunite the Muppets in order to save the studio.
With Segal being the guy who did full frontal nudity inn Saving Sarah Marshall, he may seem as an usual pick to star in and co-write the return of the family franchise to the big screen. But in every interview I’ve seen Segal has exuded a love of the characters that makes me think that the things are in good hands.
2. Arthur Christmas (Sony Pictures, 3376 Screens, 97 Minutes, Rated PG ): From the folks at Aardman Animations, the brains behind the wonderful Wallace And Grommit stop-motion animated films, comes this story of Santa’s son Arthur Christmas who lives in the shadow of his famous father and his older brother Steve who is looking to take over the family business. When an undelivered present is discovered, Arthur sets out to get it under its assigned tree while Steve and Santa squabble.
While the story sounds like a lot of fun, it unfortunately is going up against two other family features with better name-brand recognition and I don’t think that even a big name voice cast with the likes of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Night and Jim Broadbent will get butts into seats for this one. They might be better off hoping that they get the run off of people who couldn’t get into showings of The Muppets or Hugo.
When a long time filmmaker like Martin Scorsese states that he wants to work in 3D, one has to wonder what he wants to bring to the process. We’ll get that answer with his adaption of Brian Selznick’s novel The Invention Of Hugo Cabaret.
Asa Butterfield stars as a young orphan who is living withing the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930s who discovers a broken automaton in a disused store room.
As the story contains early film technology pioneer George Melies (played by Sir Ben Kingsley in the film) as a character, it is easy to understand how a film historian like Scorsese became interested in the project. And there is a certain metatextual symmetry to him making the film with one of the newest filmmaking technologies.