Christmas Movie Bonanza

I’m finally back.  We had a nice long visit in Monroe (10 days to be exact), during which I couldn’t really post here.  But now I”m back in Indiana and ready to go.

I normally use my Christmas vacation to catch up on movies.  With the hectic life that comes from two jobs, a wife, and two kids, I rarely see movies in theaters during the course of the year.  Now, given that many of the good movies come out during the summer (my other time to catch up) and the winter, this really isn’t a bad deal.  That said, I used our trip to Monroe to hit the theater 5 times, as many as I had been to from June to December total.  I’ll catalogue them here and tell you what I thought, and you can decide if you agree, or if I’m full of crap.  Before I begin, I will say that I watched The Hangover and Inglourious Basterds again (despite the fact that there are more than 30 movies in my blockbuster rental queue waiting to be watched) and cemented them in the top 10 movies of the year.  Having said that (chuckle):

1.Alvin and the Chipmunks:  The Squeaquel – I really wanted to take Noah to a movie, and this fit the bill.  Honestly, I got a headache after 5 minutes, and there were enough cliches in this movie to sink a ship.  But Noah liked it, Zachary Levi was in it, and it had some generally funny moments.  What are you gonna do, sometimes you make sacrifices for your children.

2.The Princess and the Frog – Jennifer, Lacey and I had agreed to take all the kids to this one as well.  And actually, I had been looking forward to taking Noah to this for quite a while.  Disney finally got back to hand-drawn animation, and it looked wonderful.  For the most part, it was quite good.  The songs and characters weren’t as catchy and lovable as Disney’s miracle 90’s run (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, etc.) but Noah and the kids loved it, and I was entertained.  Very good animated movie, as those go.  Funny, sweet and musical, it was a step in the right direction for Disney.

3.Up In The Air – The best movie I saw over the holidays, hands down.  It wasn’t even a contest.  This plants itself in the top 5 of the year (a post I’m working on as we speak, in my head), probably at #3.  It is funny, sad, touching, witty, just a downright excellent film.  George Clooney was utterly brilliant.  I was actually a little skeptical for the first half hour or so, because he essentially plays Danny Ocean (or, himself, if you like) but he really grew into the part and finished strong.  The supporting cast was absolutely pitch perfect, whether it was one (J.K. Simmons, etc.) or several scenes (Jason Bateman).  Jason Reitman is starting to cement himself as one of the best directors in America.

4.Sherlock Holmes – A great time at the movie theater.  That’s about all I can say.  It wasn’t thought-provoking, it didn’t really have a message…it was merely great entertainment from a fun director (Guy Ritchie) and a cool actor (Robert Downey Jr.), with good support from the other players.  I recommend waiting for DVD, although the special f/x with old London were brilliantly done, and nice to see on the big screen.  Good stuff.

5.Invictus – This was really the only letdown of the bunch.  Directed by Clint Eastwood, it was really poorly edited, and I was pretty bored for the first half of the film.  The soundtrack seemed really out of place, and only in the second half, when they focused on the rugby, did the movie gain any steam.  I thought it was ok, but could have been much better.  I don’t know, it seemed to meander a bit.  No real steady focus throughout.  It felt as though the production was very rushed, and ultimately made for a very forgettable movie.

6.Avatar – This actually kicked off the holidays for me, as Joel and I went to see it my first day of Christmas break, opening night.  And it is truly a staggering film.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as amazed by the sheer spectacle of the visual f/x.  If you like movies, this one can NOT be missed in 3D theaters.  I have heard a lot of complaining about the “hack” plot, and that it is very anti-establishment, blah blah blah.  But seriously, you have to know what you are getting into here!  It’s a James Cameron movie.  That means, the plot is a mere side-show.  I really didn’t mind it that much, it got me thinking, and was decent enough.  Was it a little “green” and anti-America?  Well, yeah, but you have to remember that this is Hollywood you are dealing with.  I see Cameron’s movies to see what he has come up with this time, visually, and on that count, I couldn’t have been happier.  A brilliant, fantastic sight to see.

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