Hollywood lays out the red carpet for “Tron: Legacy” this week, because there’s surprisingly little competition for the 3D spectacle this high-season almost holiday weekend. Sure, there’s something for the kids with (shudder) “Yogi Bear” and something for the ladies with “How Do You Know,” but ‘Tron’ is bringing some of that summer blockbuster swagger to winter. Maybe studio execs assume everyone’s going to be spending those hard earned bucks on gifts or warm and toasty yuletide libations. At any rate, despite the rather slim pickins there’s a little something for everyone at the multiplex, and even some awards-season contenders for those of you who treat Oscar nomination morning like the NFL draft pick.
“Tron: Legacy” lightcycles into theaters to blow the minds of stoners and video game enthusiasts alike with its dazzling 3D light show and Daft Punk score. Our point/counterpoint reviews found the film a bit soulless and narratively lacking, but also an “amazing audio and visual overload” with “crazy-cool visuals.” First-time director Joseph Kosinski gets his baptism by fire at the box office this weekend, with a cool $300 mill of Disney‘s riding on his baby. Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, and this weekend’s SNL host, Jeff Bridges suit up in the glow stick jumpsuits for the ride through video game land. Rotten Tomatoes: 49% MetaCritic: 49
Just “How Do You Know” how to choose between Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon? Easy, Rudd, natch (in our own humble opinion). This latest James L. Brooks outing comes with our reviewer’s warning to lower your expectations, but that “there’s some fun to be had” in the rom-com. If anything, it should make for a relatively painless trip to the cinema with mom this holiday season. RT:35% MC: 43
Justin Timberlake is currently the front runner for the “Sandra Bullock Award,” with the possibility of appearing in both an Oscar and Razzie award-winning film in the same year! Justin… here’s hoping your “The Social Network” cachet isn’t completely destroyed by the unnecessary CGI monstrosity that is “Yogi Bear.” We collectively salivated at what could have been this week when the alternate ending leaked on YouTube, installing some pathos and and real drama to the animated bears by riffing on “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Thanks for that treat, animators. We never would have seen your impressive skills without it! Dan Aykroyd, Anna Faris, T.J. Miller and Tom Cavanagh also feature in the flick. RT: 12% MC: 32
The awards-baiting “Rabbit Hole” opens in limited release this week. Nicole Kidman‘s been tipped by the HFPA for a Golden Globe for her performance opposite Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest in John Cameron Mitchell‘s film of the David Lindsay-Abaire play (and screenplay) about a couple coping with grief over the loss of their son. Our review from TIFF describes the film as “honest and powerful,” and celebrated the performances of the entire cast and Mitchell’s deft hand with his first foray into more dramatic material. Should be a nice antidote to the fluff of the weekend otherwise, and you can start checking awards contenders off your list. RT:80% MC: 74
Kevin Spacey stars as disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff in the posthumous release of “Casino Jack,” the last film from director George Hickenlooper, who sadly passed away earlier this year. According to our review, the political dramedy is “a funny, acidic take on Washington insider politics,” but “not a particularly well-shot or tightly-edited film.” RT: 47% MC: 44
Amber Heard, Odette Yustman and Karl Urban star in the latest girls-traveling-abroad cautionary horror flick “And Soon the Darkness.” It’s a wonder any young women study abroad anymore with the prevalence of this genre. Or maybe it’s teaching them important survival skills. That must be it. Also, it didn’t screen for critics, which means expect low quality cheap thrills. Some people appreciate those!