A lot of dessert options this week if you can make it out to the theater after shoving down all that turkey and fixings. The most satisfying option is probably Disney‘s “Tangled,” which considering it has a pretty white princess as the center of the story, should do great business this weekend, but most likely not enough to knock the boy wizard from the top spot in his second week. Christina Aguilera and Cher team up in the musical fable “Burlesque,” which should attract a broad age range of women and gay men. “Faster” marks the return of The Rock from the kiddie-flick ghetto, but “Unstoppable” has better reviews and should provide decent competition a few weeks into its release. Your best bet for date night is the Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway dramedy “Love and Other Drugs,” which could find itself ignored at the crowded holiday box office. In limited release, the Oscar-bait “The King’s Speech” features great performances and a crowd-pleasing story that should play well into the holidays, but best avoid “The Nutcracker in 3D” if you’d like your season to remain cheery and bright.
In Wide Release: After last year’s artistically successful but commercially disappointing “The Princess and the Frog,” Disney returns with what might be their last effort at traditional hand-drawn animation with “Tangled.” It is the tale of an imprisoned princess, Rapunzel, who takes the kingdom’s most daring bandit Flynn Rider hostage when he attempts to hide out in her tower. Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Ron Perlman and Jeffrey Tambor contribute voices to the ‘toon. We reviewed the film earlier this week, finding it a beautiful and fine new addition to Disney princess stories, but far from the best. RT: 87% Metacritic: 73.
Christina Aguilera plays Ali, a small-town Iowa girl with dreams of stardom who takes off for the big city in “Burlesque,” from first time writer-director Steve Antin. She soon finds herself as a cocktail waitress at “The Burlesque Lounge,” an ailing club owned by Tess (a robotic-looking Cher) who is both the owner and main attraction. The two soon develop a bond as Tess gets a glimpse of Ali’s sizable talent, but the story is really just an excuse to throw together a bunch of musical numbers and let the cast, which also features Alan Cumming, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci, shine. As we note in our review, the musical numbers are wonderfully choreographed and really sizzle, but as soon as someone opens their mouth to actually speak, the whole thing falls flat. If you’re hoping for campy fun, “Burlesque” will get you about halfway there, but comes up short. RT: 32% Metacritic: 51.
A by-the-books revenge tale from director George Tillman Jr., “Faster” stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a newly released convict out to avenge his brother’s murder during the botched robbery that led to his imprisonment. We found the film to be a rather somber and cliché-filled meditation on justice rather than a meat-and-potatoes actioner the trailers suggest. RT: 42% Metacritic: 39.
Director Ed Zwick, mostly known for his sweeping, heroic epics (“Glory,” “Blood Diamond“), tries his hand at Cameron Crowe-style romantic dramedy with “Love and Other Drugs.” Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Jamie Randall, a privileged womanizer trying to make it as a a pharmaceutical salesman in the mid-nineties when he falls for one of his client’s patients, the Parkinson’s disease-stricken Maggie, played by Anne Hathaway. Based on James Reidy‘s memoir “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman,” the film has its fair share of flaws and cliches, but ultimately is an infectious crowd-pleaser with strong performances (notably Hathaway’s). You can check out our review from the CMJ film festival here. RT: 41% Metacritic: 55.
In Limited Release: Colin Firth finds himself a frontrunner in the Oscar race for a second year in a row with “The King’s Speech.” Director Tom Hopper‘s film concerns the newly crowned King George VI of England (Firth), who suffers from a debilitating speech impediment. His wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) insists that he see an eccentric speech therapist (Geoffery Rush) who may be the only hope for curing his curse and giving him the oratory prowess to help unite the country in battle. In our LFF review of the film, we found it be a rousing crowd-pleaser hobbled by an uneven script. RT: 90% Metacritic: 78.
A musical reinvention of the classic ballet, “The Nutcracker in 3D” arrives in theaters this weekend to kickstart the holiday season. Russian director Andrey Konchalovskiy (“Runaway Train,” “Tango and Cash“) pulls together a huge international cast including Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, John Turturro and Richard E. Grant to bring the story to life. Unfortunately, as we note in our review, the film is a tedious, incoherent mess with terrible musical numbers and a truly confused tone. Unless you have children that you want to torture, stay far away from this one. RT: 0% Metacritic: 15.
Also opening in limited this week, the Peruvian ghost story “Undertow,” about a married fisherman trying to come to terms with his secret life with his male lover. RT: 86% Metacritic: 82. The documentary “The Legend of the Pale Male” recounts the story of a wild Redtail Hawk that makes its home in central park to the delight and awe of New Yorkers of all ages. RT: 33% Metacritic: n/a.