You really don’t need an excuse to go to the movies this week, it’s Thanksgiving weekend, you’ve already eaten your weight in butter and after you’ve hit your credit card limits for this Black Friday business, you’re going to need to hide out in the theater if only to keep yourself from eating and spending whatever is left of your life. Thankfully, there are a slew of movies coming out in limited release and regular style this week, including “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,” “Old Dogs,” “Ninja Assassin,” “The Road,” “Me and Orson Welles,” and “The Princess and the Frog.” So get to it.
The Movie: “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”
The Trailer: Based on writer/director Rebecca Miller’s book, “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee” follows Pippa (Robin Wright) who has started “unraveling” in her 40s. She’s married to an older man (Alan Arkin) who fell for her when she was an out-of-control youngster (the flashback sequences star Blake Lively) and now he’s falling for another young and crazy trollop (Winona Ryder) so Pippa throws her own mid-life crisis and goes after her neighbor’s son (Keanu Reeves).
The Hitch: I enjoy the prospect that no matter how much you screw up in life, there’s always a chance to change (re: make out with Keanu Reeves). The flashbacks look like a fantastically wild time and make me wish I wasn’t maybe wasting my twenties living like a Mormon…especially when Pippa Lee’s winning at every age.
The Movie: “Old Dogs”
The Trailer: Two business partners (John Travolta and Robin Williams) are enjoying their fifties when Williams finds out he’s a dad to two six year olds (including little Ella Bleu Travolta) thanks to his ex-girlfriend who forgot to tell him or something? Presumably, the men are forced to face the fact that they are no longer hot young bachelors and that their usual methods of coping won’t help them deal with middle-aged fatherhood responsibility.
The Hitch: I guess this is the guy equivalent of a chick flick; dudes bonding in wilderness while making fart and boner jokes. Remember that movie that came out in 2007 called “Wild Hogs”? This is the same director. Nuff said. I’m afraid that no amount of Seth Green’s comedic genius can save a bad premise.
The Movie: “Ninja Assassin”
The Trailer: A boy (Korean pop star Rain) is raised from childhood to be a strong and heartless ninja assassin and when his overbearing adoptive father figure is done with him, he expects him to honorably (ehem) discharge himself. Instead, he goes rogue and brings a major wrath against his former clan.
The Hitch: It’s all about the intense fight scenes and if someone’s gotta do it, thank goodness it gets to be the painfully attractive Rain. And speaking of rain, the blood will apparently be shed as such.
The Movie: “The Road”
The Trailer: Based on Cormac McCarthy’s best-selling novel, this is another post apocalyptic movie, but this time there’s something much scarier than zombies; heartless, starving, cannibalistic humans (zombies + brains = ack!). The upbeat premise doesn’t help the situation, as after the death of his wife (Charlize Theron), a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) go out in search of a safe haven, starving and struggling for life. And though the cause of the apocalypse is never addressed, the dusty, slowly freezing, deadened backdrop is maybe a too probable a future for us.
The Hitch: The movie, like the book, is apparently minimalist, which might not come through in the rather intense trailer. Director John Hillcoat took great care in interpreting material he revered, saying of McCarthy’s work, “It’s the best and worst in people and that’s what you witness, Cormac’s always had an unbelievable accuracy, an unflinching kind of look at how easy man can slide into the animal beast, you know, the reptilian brain takes over and he’s very astute at kind of pinpointing that … (But) there’s a moral to the story. So hopefully people will get that.” [TheCanadianPress]
The Movie: “Me and Orson Welles”
The Trailer: Set in 1937, as Orson Welles (Christian McKay) has his directorial debut with a production of Julius Caesar, (retitled “Caesar: Death of a Dictator” for his purposes) at the Mercury Theatre. While the highlight is Welles’ self-centered, charismatic genius, expertly portrayed by McKay, the storyline follows a minor actor (Zac Efron) in his company who falls for the theater’s ambitious secretary (Claire Danes) who also attracts the attention of the married Welles.
The Hitch: Being a theater geek, the most exciting aspects might be the iconic New York Mercury Theater which was meticulously re-created (in London of all places) and witnessing a scene from theatrical history. But using Zac Efron to attract viewers to see a movie about Orson Welles is like tricking toddlers into a museum by promising a pile of puppies. I’m much more interested in following Welles than worrying whether Efron wins over Claire Danes.
The Movie: “The Princess and the Frog”
The Trailer: It’s been forever since Disney Studios released a 2-D hand-drawn animated movie and this reinvention of the classic fairy tale, set in 1930′s New Orleans. In this version, an African-American girl named Tiana kisses a frog prince Naveen, expecting him to be restored to his human form, but she is instead transformed into a frog herself. This doubly sucks because Tiana didn’t care about becoming a princess, she was just helping out a friend in need, her real dream is to open a restaurant. So, with the help of a jazzy alligator, a Cajun firefly, a medicine man, and voodoo lady, dreams and music are realized.
The Hitch: Just the fact that Tiana is the first Disney animated African-American heroine is huge. Setting the story in the epic city of New Orleans is a major bonus and paves the way for the diverse musical numbers which span genres, painting a complete picture of the locale. Bring it on, Disney!