Let’s face it: Most of this year’s movies have been the cinematic equivalent of your Aunt Mildred’s fruitcake.
From uninspired remakes (yes, that’s you, Footloose) to flicks where substance was unduly sacrificed for style points (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and The Green Lantern immediately spring to mind), let’s just say it’s not exactly going to be easy for the Academy to decide on those 10 (!!!) Best Picture selections once the Oscars
Long before that happens, however, this year’s holiday fare will be making it to a theater near you. And while the season doesn’t exactly get off to a promising start, thanks to A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (all the grossness will be available in 3-D, naturally), the entertainment options pick up the closer we get to Christmas, so that’s something to be thankful for while you sip cocoa and watch Elf for the 1,245th time, right?
Now here’s a quick primer on everything noteworthy (and no, that doesn’t include Harold and Kumar) that’s making its way to theaters in November and December.
The Obligatory Biopic
J. Edgar, opening November 9 (limited) and November 11 (wide)
Brush up on your history, or at least the movie’s version, anyway, as J. Edgar explores the public—and private—life of the face of American law enforcement for nearly half a century. Adding to what’s practically surefire Oscar bait, the title character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, had a few controversial secrets that make J. Edgar an intriguing slice of cinema.
Humor With a Side of Sandler
Jack and Jill, opening November 11
Adam Sandler plays not one, but two characters in Jack and Jill, a Thanksgiving comedy that celebrates just how crazy it can be when family comes to town. And yes, Sandler is the leading man and his annoying sister, which will either be funny or downright disastrous.
Return of the Dancing Penguins
Happy Feet Two, opening November 18
Practically every A-lister from Matt Damon to Brad Pitt to Robin Williams is voicing a character in Happy Feet Two, the sequel to all the toe-tapping, penguin-dancing fun of the original. Set in Antarctica, Mumble, you know, the Master of Tap, discovers that his young son has a fear of (gasp!) dancing. Scared of what his father might think, little Erik runs away and becomes acquainted with the Mighty Sven, a penguin who can…fly! Excitement, plus a whole lotta singing, ensues, and chances are, you won’t get the songs out of your head for weeks.
Bella and Edward Get Married—Finally
Breaking Dawn Part 1, opening November 18
Twilight fans, rejoice. At long last, all that brooding and pining between Bella and her vampire love, Edward, are leading them down the path to marital bliss. Of course, nothing will go as predicted, and Taylor Lautner will feel obligated to take his shirt off approximately 1,000 more times with a scowl.
Now Introducing…Arthur Christmas
Arthur Christmas, opening November 23
For anyone who’s ever wondered how Santa actually manages to deliver all those gifts in just one night, well, the answer is in Arthur Christmas. Apparently, there’s some sort of secret operation beneath the North Pole and an unlikely hero named Arthur who helps get the job done.
The Muppets Take Los Angeles
The Muppets, opening November 23
The music is playing, the lights are lit, and the most sensational show on earth is returning to the big screen, courtesy of the Muppets. Starring some pretty great human talent, too (Amy Adams, Jason Segel and a bunch of their Hollywood pals in cameos), Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie are back in an effort to save the Muppet theater.
We’re the Chipmunks!
Alvin and the Chipmunks—Chipwrecked, opening December 16
What’s supposed to be a relaxing cruise turns unexpectedly adventurous when Alvin, Simon and Theodore and the Chipettes are “chipwrecked” on a remote island. Wonder if they’ll sing their way out of danger?
Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, opening December 16
Tom Cruise reprises his role as Ethan Hunt, and yes, he accepts yet another mission that almost leads to his demise. But Pixar’s Brad Bird and famed director J.J. Abrams is involved, so you know it’s going to be good.
Case Closed? Not Exactly
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, opening December 16
Robert Downey and Jude Law are back as Sherlock Holmes and Watson, respectively. The rest of the story? Well, it involves a tangled web of lies, murder and destruction that only Holmes and his trusty sidekick will be able to untangle.
Show Me the Bunny
We Bought a Zoo, opening December 23
Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Elizabethtown) hasn’t made a film for a good, long while, but returns with a quirky story of a single father (played by Matt Damon) who needs a fresh leash on life. Of course, his therapy involves a motley crew of zoo animals, hence the movie’s title.