In Theaters Now (12/25/2009)
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie directs this sequel to his 2002 blockbuster Swept Away with Madonna reprising her role as socialite Amber… Nah, of course not. Sherlock Holmes gets its requisite 21st century incarnation starring Robert Downey Jr. as the iconic namesake. Downey continues his post-rehab garnering of credibility starring opposite Jude Law and Rachel McAdams as a street-fighter-esque hero. That’s right. Holmes is lover and a fighter. The film has a big budget period feel, but doesn’t shy away from the in vogue ironic foolery we’ve come to expect from Christmas-released action flicks. Just don’t go expecting your father’s Sherlock Holmes or you’ll be severely disappointed.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Not since Brandon Lee died on the set of The Crow in 1993, has there been a more anticipated posthumous performance in a film. The difference is Lee was nearly finished with filming, while Heath Ledger was only about 1/3 of the way through with Terry Gilliam’s dark fairy tale. Already a complicated project, the film skyrocketed to new levels of ambition when Jude Law, Johnny Depp, and Colin Farrell were tapped to finish the project in Ledger’s role during select narrative moments. Director Terry Gilliam, never one to choose film projects lightly, has not helmed a film since 2005’s tepidly received The Brothers Grimm, but should receive extra attention for this special-effects ridden fantasy.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Directed by Betty Thomas
Ah, Betty Thomas. She’s come a long way since starring as Velda Plendor in the 80’s cheese-fest Troop Beverly Hills. However, Thomas made up for that with the splendidly corny and underrated send-up of The Brady Bunch in 1995. Here, she attacks the kiddie special effects market, but it shouldn’t be too difficult of a sell considering the first film made $217 million domestically in 2007. Here the furry lads meet their competition/love interests with the introduction of three femme fatales that are several anatomical parts shy of being the gang’s doppelgangers. The rodent production of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” will make you smile, but don’t expect any major catharsis.
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Don’t expect Nancy Meyers to direct the next Fight Club or Raging Bull, but she’s dang good at what she does – romantic dramedys. Best known for directing What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give, she returns with It’s Complicated, a love triangle between Jane (Meryl Streep), Adam (Steve Martin), and Jake (Alec Baldwin). The hitch? Jane and Jake are divorced and Jake is remarried to a trophy. Sounds like heavy stuff, but Meyers never allows things to get too bogged down in her films. The three have a frothy, menopausal chemistry that is sure to translate on screen. The fact that Martin and Baldwin are co-hosting the Oscars this year proves that the repoire will be genuine, and these three are rarely lacking buoyant charm.