The gist: A biopic about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to major public office in America. Lots of buzz, but was still snubbed at the Golden Globes (see Page 60). R
Starring: Sean Penn, James Franco, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, Diego Luna, Victor Garber Denis O'Hare and Stephen Spinella.
The buzz: Some love it, some not so much, but Penn is getting kudos and the film is almost universally considered worth a look. "It's not a great movie, but it is an enlivening and unusual one: an effervescent political film that also packs a knockout punch," the Baltimore Sun says.
Nothing Like the Holidays
The gist: A family comes together for Christmas to nonstop fighting and backbiting. Sounds like the holidays to us. PG-13
Starring: John Leguizamo, Debra Messing, Freddy Rodriguez, Vanessa Ferlito, Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena.
The buzz: Sounds like the holidays to lots of others, too. "The troubles are broad, the plot twists giant, and the performances cheery in this carol to ethnic pride in Chicago's traditionally Latino Humboldt Park," Entertainment Weekly says.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The gist: Another pointless, unnecessary remake of a sci-fi classic with Keanu Reeves as Klaatu and a cartoon as Gort reminding us humanity may ultimately destroy itself. Why, Hollywood, why? PG-13
Starring: Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, James Hong, Jaden Smith and Kathy Bates.
The buzz: Even a good cast can't save a silly, effects-laden retread like this. "This botched remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still seriously dishonors the seriously fine 1951 sci-fi landmark on which it's based," Variety scolds.
The gist: Another quickie animated fantasy film thrown together and full of celebrity voices. Snore. PG
Starring: Vocies of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Val Kilmer, Chris Kattan, Kelly Ripa, Michael Clarke Duncan, Eric Idle and Malcolm McDowell.
The buzz: Epic failure, according to Entertainment Weekly: "Too grim for kids and too dumb for grown-ups."
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org