Happy Christmas Eve everyone! TBS will be airing its yearly 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story at 8 PM tonight. I've actually never seen it, so maybe I'll check it out this year. But today I'd like to talk about one of my favorite holidays: Jewish Christmas. For those of you unfamiliar with Jewish Christmas, you celebrate it by eating Chinese food and seeing a movie. Now, you might ask, "Mah nishtah nah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?" [Why is this night different from any other night?] After all, my family eats Chinese food and sees movies all the time. But Jewish Christmas makes that a holiday, and that's special.
Now, as I did on Thanksgiving, I've got some advice on what movie to see. Once again, the movie selection is pretty weak, with most mainstream movies looking like the cinematic equivalent of a lump of coal. Yes Man and Bedtime Stories do nothing for me, while Seven Pounds and The Spirit have gotten reviews terrible enough to curdle your egg nog. So while I can't vouch for (or even recommend) some of the movies on this list, they're at least worth considering.
It was my #1 pick for Thanksgiving, and it's still my #1 pick for Christmas. But unlike a month ago, Slumdog has now expanded to the point where I was able to see it again in Virginia yesterday. If you haven't seen it, you'll have fun and feel good. Even if you have, a rewatching is more worthwhile than Yes Man.
Marley & Me
A PG-rated movie with Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and a dog? That's a big no thanks for me, but it's a logical choice. It's based on a super popular book, has two likable stars, and looks the most tolerable of the family movies. The reviews may be mixed, but they're certainly not terrible. If you can stand the trailer, you might want to check it out.
The image of a one-eyed Tom Cruise leading a team to go kill Hitler is definitely silly. But silly might be preferable to all the super serious Oscarbait in theaters. Its solid Rotten Tomatoes score of 60% means it isn't the bomb we feared (that would be The Spirit at 14%). If your hatred of Tom Cruise doesn't turn you off, this could be a fun way to spend the holiday.
Usually, the last thing you want during the holiday is politics. But this is surprisingly entertaining, filled with humor and wit. Yes, it's Oscarbait, but it's on a different level from the dour seriousness of Benjamin Button and Doubt. With such weak mainstream movies this year, Frost/Nixon may be a nice compromise.
This was also on my Thanksgiving list, and like Slumdog has since expanded further. It's still in pretty limited release (not playing in Virginia), but I've heard it's amazing. Still, a political movie about civil rights that ends with a death might not be the holiday cheer you were looking for.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Releasing wide on Christmas day, this epic tale of a backwards-aging man (Brad Pitt) will get a lot of attention. A big, epic tearjerker brings together the whole family, and women can enjoy Brad Pitt. But consider: It's nearly three hours long, it's incredibly slow, and it's really not that good. Still, the movie's Rotten Tomatoes score of 77% shows I may be alone on my opinion, so you may want to see for yourselves.
Another very serious movie I didn't love (review coming soon), Doubt doesn't make for a fun trip to the movies. It may be well short of Benjamin Button's running time, but its slow pace nearly put me to sleep. Still, its great performances will get Oscar attention. And Meryl Streep vs. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a battle worth paying to see. It will expand enough tomorrow to find easily enough. It's not my first choice for Oscarbait, but it is an option.
And the Rest...
Yes Man's trailers make me want to bludgeon myself. The Day the Earth Stood Still may induce an Independence Day marathon to remember what a good alien movie looks like. Seven Pounds, well, I've covered that. The Tale of Despereaux and Bedtime Stories seem like they're just for kids. Instead of seeing The Spirit, just watch Sin City again. The Wrestler, The Reader, and Gran Torino are all better options, but are all in super limited release.
Whatever you choose, enjoy the holidays!