1. Moana (Disney, 3,875 Theaters, 103 Minutes, Rated PG for peril, some scary images and brief thematic elements, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 99% Fresh [80 Reviews]): Moana’s island home is in trouble and she is . She must reunite the Heart of Te Fiti in order to save the day. But she is going to need help. That help comes in the form of Maui, a demigod wielding a large hook.
This film is put out by Disney’s in-house computer animation arm, and that branch has done a lot to catch up with sister company Pixar in terms of quality. The film experience a bit of controversy as people were upset that Maui was portrayed as being overweight. Whether this will have any effect on ticket sales or not is anybody’s guess. But it hasn’t affected any reviews, which have been astoundingly phenomenal.
2. Allied (Paramount, 3,160 Theaters, 124 Minutes, Rated R for violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 62% Fresh [71 Reviews]): At one time, this was just another movie. The Brangelina became Brad and Angelina in the most public and messy way. So now the film has become burdened with the onus of having to help Brad Pitt rebound (well, according to USA Today, that is).
The film is about two freedom fighters working undercover together during World War II who meet up years later, fall in love and get married. Their happily ever after is ruined when Pitt’s character’s old superiors come to him with news that his wife is a Nazi spy. He is given orders to kill her. Can he find proof of her innocence in time or will his faith in her end up with both of them dead?
The film is directed by Robert Zemeckis so it could have had the possibility of being Oscar bait. However, the controversial break-up might now work against them. Funny how that works out.
3. Bad Santa 2 (Broad Green Pictures, 2,500+ Theaters, 92 Minutes, Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some graphic nudity, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 29% Fresh [35 Reviews]): Some sequels are made to continue the story of characters the audience really wants to see. Some are planned and others are rushed into production when the original becomes a modest hit.
Then you have this one. It hits almost 13 years to the day that the first Bad Santa hit theaters. The original was a modest success, but there didn’t seem to burning desire to spend more time with that character. And the fact that the first film wrapped up the story quite succinctly.
Do you remember all the positive character development Billy Bob Thornton’s character Willie went through in the first film? Well, forget it. He’s become a recidivist. In this film, he is contacted by his former partner Marcus (Tony Cox), who literally tried to kill him in the first film, with a plan to rob a charity. This time, he bringing in a third partner, Willie’s mom, played by Kathy Bates.
Yes, Kathy Bates, who is just 7 years older than Thornton , is playing his mother But she’s not the only Oscar winner getting the short shrift. Octavia Spencer s reprising her role as a prostitute named Opal from the first movie. A scrappy college student could write a pretty good thesis about the hard time Academy Award-winning actresses have in Hollywood just using this film as an example.
This seems like just a blatant rehash of the first film. If that’s the case, you’d be better of watching that film instead of this one.
4. Rules Don’t Apply (Fox, 2,382 Theaters, 126 Minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual material including brief strong language, thematic elements, and drug references, Rotten Tomatoes rating at press time: 58% Fresh [53 Reviews]): Warren Beatty is an interesting man. He is known for being a demanding perfectionist, whether it be in films or in how his publicity interviews are lighted. He has directed only five films in 40 years, and has eclectic tastes in subject matter (this is the man who directed a three hour film about the Russian revolution during Reagan’s America, after all.) So his returning to the big screen is a big deal.
He returns in this film, both behind and in front of the camera (18 years since his last directorial effort, Bulworth, 15 since his last acting role in Town & Country). He plays another notable Hollywood eccentric, Howard Hughes, in the film, which details the fictional romance between to young kids under Hughes employ. Not only is their affair against Hughes rules for his employees, but there is also a difference in religions at play as well.
Beatty’s films typically are star-studded extravaganzas, and this one is no different. Should be interesting to see if Beatty still has it.