Among the new movies that were released Tuesday, Dec. 25 in theaters throughout the Valley are a grindhouse western from writer/director Quentin Tarantino, director Tom Hooper’s cinematic adaptation of one of the most popular musicals of all time and a family flick in which Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play grandparents.
Jamie Foxx plays a slave-turned-bounty hunter who, with the help of his mentor (Christoph Waltz), sets out to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). (R – 165 minutes)
“Django Unchained” is really raw, extremely edgy and entertaining in an all-encompassing kind of way. But then, honestly, did anyone truly expect anything less from writer/director Quentin Tarantino? The constantly groundbreaking filmmaker’s latest motion picture – which is best described as a grindhouse western – is a bloody blast (literally) from beginning to end, featuring audacious action and lionhearted laughs at each and every turn. Moreover, it includes some of the year’s positively finest performances – especially from actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz who essentially switch characters and succeed in playing against type with sincerely spectacular results. (Grade: A)
Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner, hunted for decades by a ruthless policeman (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When he agrees to care for a factory worker (Anne Hathaway) young daughter (Amanda Seyfried), their lives change forever. (PG-13 – 157 minutes)
“Les Misérables” is a sweeping cinematic spectacle that, despite its distinctly depressing themes, leaves viewers feeling rejuvenated, uplifted and ready to take on the world. Director Tom Hooper has created a massive movie musical – make that an enormous entertainment extravaganza – that is unlike anything else you have ever seen on the big screen. And somehow, be it the grandeur of it all or the plethora of passionate performances that draw you deep into the drama, the fact that this story plays out entirely through song is a curiously camouflaged quality as the audience becomes absolutely absorbed by this fantastic film. (Grade: A)
Billy Crystal and Bette Midler play people who agree to look after their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents (Tom Everett Scott and Marisa Tomei) need to leave town for work. Problems arise when the kids’ 21st-century behaviors collide with the grandparents’ old-school methods. (PG – 104 minutes)
“Parental Guidance” is a movie for grandparents. And I do not mean that it is a movie for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren. I mean that it is a movie strictly for grandparents because they are the only demographic that will be so smitten with director Andy Fickman’s flick’s sweet, good-intentioned nature that they will not mind that it is over the top in almost all aspects – be it its jokes, its sentimentality or its suggestion that a game of “kick the can” will produce profound bonding. Having said that, it is still a feel-good family film with some surprisingly hearty laughs. (Grade: C)