1.Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney, 4,134 Theaters, 135 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 95% Fresh [244 Reviews]): I am part of the Star Wars generation. People who are older or younger than us might never fully comprehend how much this film series has shaped who we are. Quotes from them have become part of our personal lexicon. Long, lasting friendships are made through a shared love of these films. And each film’s release is a cultural yard marker in our lives.
For the longest time, all we had was the original trilogy. That was fine. Because we loved it and we had a massive volume of ephemera to keep the joy alive. Then the prequels were announced and we became excited to get a new addition to the mythos. The excitement lasted until we had time to sit down and think about the first prequel, The Phantom Menace. Then we were filled with everything from mild disappointment to outright anger.
And then, once again, we thought that would be the last we’d see of Star Wars in the theaters. But Disney bought out the rights for the franchise from George Lucas and announced that the series will start all over again with more films than we could ever hope or imagine. The excitement built again, but it came with a sense of wariness. We have been down this road before, and been burnt.
But every indication of is that this film is the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back. And what was once a defining aspect of my generation will become something the new generations will be able to share. My daughter will not know Star Wars as the film her daddy forced her to watch, but rather she will have to opportunity to enter the world on her own terms and fall in love with the characters the same way I did so many years ago.
If you want to know what we thought about the film, FBOL Head Honcho Rich Drees has his review here. But, let me warn you, there will be some spoilers there.
2. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (Fox, 3,163 Theaters, 86 Minutes, Rated PG for some mild rude humor, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 15% Fresh [26 Reviews]): There are two strategies when it comes to releasing a film on the same weekend as a film of Star Wars: The Force Awakens magnitude. One, don’t. Two, open a film that will act as counter programming to the blockbuster to get any cast offs the bigger movie sends their way.
This film seems to carry at least part of the same demographic as Star Wars, so I don’t know how good of counter programming it is. Maybe they are thinking they’d pick up an audience from kids whose parents weren’t on the ball and got shut out of a sold out showing of Star Wars. And the film seems to be bulletproof, as pretty much every film gets horrible reviews and still makes a load of money at the box office.
This time around, the chipmunks think Dave is going to get rid of them after he gets married. They go on a three-day road trip to try and change his mind.
3. Sisters (Universal, 2,961 Theaters, 118 Minutes, Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and for drug use, Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer at press time: 66% Fresh [82 Reviews]): Here is a more obvious bit of counter programming. You just know that the studio thought this would be the idea film to release now, as mothers would go to see it after they drop their kids off at Star Wars.
However, I know as many female Star Wars fans as I do male ones, so who knows if this is going to work. But it is Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on screen together, so it has to be at least a little bit awesome.
Fey and Poehler play estranged sisters who try to recapture their youth by throwing one last extravagant party in the house they grew up in before it is sold.