New movies this week
The gist: A guy too busy to be a husband or father takes a road trip with his daughter to find the guy with whom his wife has been cheating on him after she lands in a coma following a boating accident. Yep, it's more of that patented Alexander Payne optimism! R
The cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Robert Forster, Judy Greer and Beau Bridges.
The buzz: Payne's best film — and Clooney ain't bad, either. "A tough, tender, observant, exquisitely nuanced portrait of mixed emotions at their most confounding and profound — all at play within a deliciously damp, untouristy Hawaii that's at once lush and lovely to look at," the Washington Post says.
The gist: All of Jim Henson's creations have gone their separate ways, which strikes us as kind of sad, but they reunite to stage a telethon to raise $10 million to save the old Muppet Theater from demolition by an oil magnate. That sounds just convoluted and zany enough to be a Muppet movie. PG
The cast: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Peter Linz and Alan Arkin.
The buzz: They're back, baby! A little different, maybe, but still ... "The Muppets treats its titular heroes with affection and respect, even as Fozzie Bear shows off his 'fart shoes' and toilet humor abounds," the Philadelphia Inquirer says.
The gist: More 3D CGI about a kid who has to help Santa deliver presents or something, from the Wallace and Gromit people. Hey, it gets the kids to pipe down while you get some rack time in the theater, doesn't it? PG
The cast: Voices of James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen.
The buzz: Well, it's actually good enough to keep you awake, too, from the sound of things. "The surprise gift of the season: a sharp, savvy holiday comedy that doesn't get its laughs at the expense of those who start to glow in the early days of December," NPR says.
The gist: A 3D Martin Scorsese film that dips into film history to spin a yarn about a couple of kids and French filmmaker Georges Melies, involving a mechanical man and other special effects in one of those coming-of-age stories Scorsese likes so much. PG
The cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ray Winstone and Emily Mortimer.
The buzz: This is a more erudite adventure for you holiday moviegoers. "What Scorsese has really made is a beautifully crafted love letter to movies, the passion of his life. What sounded like an odd pairing winds up being a perfect fit," the Arizona Republic opines.
My Week With Marilyn
The gist: A look at a week set assistant Colin Clark spent with Marilyn Monroe on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, while her husband at the time, Arthur Miller, left her alone so she could hang out in Britain and do as the locals do. Well, almost. R
The cast: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond and Judi Dench.
The buzz: The Oscar baiting is great for Williams in what would be just another Marilyn movie. "To the extent that Michelle Williams' multilayered interpretation of Marilyn Monroe serves as its raison d'etre, My Week With Marilyn succeeds stunningly. Otherwise, the film flits uneasily between arch drawing-room comedy and foreshadowed tragedy," Variety says.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org