It’s a pretty epic day for movie releases. Perhaps it’s for our post-Veterans Day, pre-Thanksgiving blowout celebration? So sticker-roll the cat hair off your sweater, buy a tub of popcorn, and get lost in the upcoming apocalypse of “2012,” experience the hardest job in the world with “The Messenger,” remember that anything can and often will happen with “Uncertainty,” burrow with some furries in “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” or get ship-wrecked with “Pirate Radio.”
The Movie: “2012″
The Trailer: The trailer pretty much tells you everything you need to know; it’s 2012, the Mayan-predicted apocalypse is upon us and, fortunately, John Cusack is a sci-fi writer who knows what’s up (thanks to a crazy mountain dude played by Woody Harrelson who lives at Yellowstone Park) and is on a mission to save his ex-wife (Amanda Peet) and his kids from being sucked into the earth like the other billions of people. The Vatican crumbles, California falls into the ocean, and India gets eaten by another tsunami. Everything awful that could happen happens, and most of us die. Sounds like a blast!
The Hitch: I’m not a fan of movies that center around stuff exploding and the earth ending—it doesn’t help my paranoia. But I’m glad that this movie is unapologetically showy and doesn’t pretend that it’s about something else. (cough … “Transformers.”) The trailer is just ridiculous. And hilarious. I guess if we’re going to have an apocalypse, we might as well have the chance to witness it from every angle first? Plus, there’s hardly anyone more lovable than the neurotic John Cusack.
The Movie: “The Messenger”
The Trailer: Ben Foster (“3:10 to Yuma” … or as I like to remember him, Tucker James from “FlashForward”) stars as a returned American soldier who has to tell families that their loved ones in the military have died in Iraq, alongside his brusque superior (Woody Harrelson). The military families react in different ways to the loss of their sons, brothers, and husbands. Foster is warned to tell no one but the next of kin and to never hug them. Of course, he ends up falling for a former military wife, played by Samantha Morton.
The Hitch: “The Messenger” looks like a heavy movie, but it offers a different perspective on the destruction of war — how it is experienced by American families — which is important since this war has been relatively close-curtained and mostly confined to numbers and statistics. If only the people sending young men to war were the ones who had to tell their families, maybe our soldiers would be home by now.
The Movie: “Uncertainty”
The Trailer: In a vague, urban thriller fueled by the testing of fate and a mysterious cell phone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his pregnant girlfriend are forced to run around Manhattan in yellow clothing (for some reason) trying to find the owner of the phone, or score cash, or not get killed. Then they have to run around Brooklyn, and there’s something to do with a dog and the color green? The title is wildly appropriate because I’m not certain as to what goes on in this movie. But I am intrigued.
The Hitch: I’ll see anything with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it. Heck, I would have even seen “Transformers” if he had been the star. If you’re up for another thriller based on a phone (à la “Phone Booth” or “The Phone”), this should be at the very least entertaining. And it’s available on cable on demand, so you don’t even have to leave the house!
The Movie: “Fantastic Mr. Fox”
The Trailer: Based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” has been taken over by Wes Anderson’s stop-motion stylings, voiced by fantastic actors, and given a beautiful glaze of amazingness. Mr. Fox (George Clooney), Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman), Badger (Bill Murray), and their other underground-dwelling friends fight back against the evil farmers who live above their world and are trying to end their chicken-stealing, trouble-rousing antics.
The Hitch: This movie is a concentrated blast of everything I love about Wes Anderson flicks; the real world turned into moving, living, illustrated, magical realism. With an amazing cast, fantastic animation, and even a great soundtrack, this movie couldn’t possibly look more amazing. And, of course, everything Roald Dahl penned is a masterpiece.
The Movie: “Pirate Radio”
The Trailer: It’s the ’60s. Rock music is influencing immoral behavior in the youngsters, and it must be stopped! So the British government bans rock on the radio (or at least limits it to two hours a week on the BBC). Renegade rockers mount ships to broadcast the music beyond the border of British territory. The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an American DJ, along with his crew of Brits and groupies, keeps rock alive as the government works to shut them down.
The Hitch: A fantastic cast and even stronger soundtrack make this movie worth checking out. And being a total Anglophile, there’s nothing better than adorable British boys nerding out over music. The movie was released in Britain last spring, titled “The Boat That Rocked,” but received meh reviews and has since been edited to be 20 minutes shorter. It was also written and directed by Richard Curtis of “Notting Hill” and “Love Actually” fame, so I maintain hope that rock, and the movie, will prevail.