KETR

Your Guide To Movies Coming Out This Holiday Season

Nov 23, 2017
Originally published on November 23, 2017 6:56 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hollywood offers up lots of brightly wrapped presents - kid flicks, awards contenders, blockbuster wannabes. And around this time every year, we check in with movie critic Bob Mondello for his holiday movie preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: What are audiences looking for in a holiday film?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI")

ANDY SERKIS: (As Supreme Leader Snoke) Something truly special.

MONDELLO: Something with lightsabers maybe. Hollywood's gotten pretty good at conjuring fantasy worlds. But "Star Wars" - a world apart. After 42 years, there is still force to the force.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI")

MARK HAMILL: (As Luke Skywalker) I've seen this raw strength only once before. It didn't scare me enough then. It does now.

MONDELLO: "The Last Jedi" is the eighth movie in a three-trilogy saga for which Lucasfilm has just this month announced there will be a fourth trilogy. Long from now, in a galaxy close to home, your grandkids will watch new "Star Wars" movies with their grandkids. But this holiday season, that will only take up one day - OK, maybe two or three. So the multiplex will have other fantasies - some familiar - to take up the slack.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE")

ALEX WOLFF: (As Spencer) Jumanji. Pick a character, and you're that person in the game.

SER'DARIUS BLAIN: (As Anthony 'Fridge' Johnson) Which one do I pick?

WOLFF: (As Spencer) I don't think it matters that much.

MONDELLO: Actually, it does. Because in "Welcome To The Jungle," four high schoolers get sucked into the game.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE")

DWAYNE JOHNSON: (As Dr. Smolder Bravestone) We've become the avatars we chose.

JACK BLACK: (As Professor Shelly Oberon) So that means...

MONDELLO: That means the dweeb's now Dwayne Johson.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE")

BLACK: (As Professor Shelly Oberon) Damn...

JOHNSON: (As Dr. Smolder Bravestone) Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry. It's going to be OK.

MONDELLO: And while these kids are getting big, some adults in the movie "Downsizing" will be offered a chance to shrink...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNSIZING")

MATT DAMON: (As Paul Safranek) That is wild, isn't it? It's just wild.

MONDELLO: ...To about 6 inches.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNSIZING")

DAMON: (As Paul Safranek) That's Dave - Dave Johnson...

JASON SUDEIKIS: (As Dave Johnson) Hey, Everybody.

DAMON: (As Paul Safranek) ...And Carol. He never struck me as the kind of guy who'd go get small.

SUDEIKIS: (As Dave Johnson) Downsizing takes the pressure right off.

DAMON: (As Paul Safranek) Plus, you're really making a difference.

SUDEIKIS: (As Dave Johnson) You mean all that crap about saving the planet.

DAMON: (As Paul Safranek) Yeah.

SUDEIKIS: (As Dave Johnson) Downsizing is about saving yourself. We live like kings.

MONDELLO: Turns out there are trade-offs. Aren't there always? Sci-fi also comes in retro and genre modes. For retro, check out "The Shape Of Water," a story about a Cold War critter from the Black Lagoon...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SHAPE OF WATER")

MICHAEL STUHLBARG: (As Mr. Robert Hoffstetler) This creature is intelligent, capable of understanding emotions.

MONDELLO: ...And the mute woman who reaches out to him.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE SHAPE OF WATER")

RICHARD JENKINS: (As Giles) The princess without a voice.

MONDELLO: "Shape Of Water" is a sci-fi love story. "Bright" is a sci-fi buddy cop movie in which Will Smith is partnered with an orc - yes, like the ones in "Lord Of The Rings." And though they're searching for a magic wand, the story is pretty down to Earth.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BRIGHT")

JOEL EDGERTON: (As Nick Jakoby) We might be in a prophecy.

WILL SMITH: (As Daryl Ward) We're not in prophecy. We're in a stolen Toyota Corolla.

SMITH: Elsewhere at the multiplex, things are so down to Earth, they actually happened - biopics that fall neatly into categories. Headline makers, for instance, start with scandal-plagued figure skater Tonya Harding in "I, Tonya."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "I, TONYA")

MARGOT ROBBIE: (As Tonya Harding) I mean, come on, what kind of friggin' person bashes in their friend's knee? Who would do that to a friend?

MONDELLO: Also torn from headlines, "Gotti" in which John Travolta plays the head of the Gambino crime syndicate.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GOTTI")

JOHN TRAVOLTA: (As John Gotti Sr.) This life of ours is a wonderful life if you can get away with it.

MONDELLO: Gangster's got Molly Bloom in trouble, too, when they started interfering with her high-stakes poker games. But the film "Molly's Game" makes clear that they weren't the first to make her life difficult.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOLLY'S GAME")

JESSICA CHASTAIN: (As Molly Bloom) You firing me?

JEREMY STRONG: (As Dean Keith) I'm not firing you. I'm just going to stop paying you. You get paid once a week from the game. It doesn't seem fair.

CHASTAIN: (As Molly Bloom) You're going to stop paying me because I'm making too much money doing my second job. And if I say no, I'll lose both jobs because it doesn't seem fair.

MONDELLO: That's Jessica Chastain both scripted and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Headlines also inspired "All The Money In The World," but they were about a guy who wouldn't part with money. Gazillionaire J. Paul Getty refused to pay ransom when his 16-year-old namesake was kidnapped.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Reporter) How much would you pay to release your grandson, if not $17 million?

KEVIN SPACEY: (As J. Paul Getty) Nothing.

MONDELLO: Those two syllables are spoken here by Kevin Spacey. But Spacey himself made headlines recently. And the filmmakers are now reshooting all his scenes to get rid of him. By the time "All The Money In The World" comes out in a few weeks, J. Paul Getty will be played by Christopher Plummer. Then there are these showbiz biopics.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GREATEST SHOWMAN")

HUGH JACKMAN: (As P.T. Barnum, singing) Ladies and gents, this is the moment you've waited for.

MONDELLO: A musical about the man who put on what he called the greatest show on Earth.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GREATEST SHOWMAN")

JACKMAN: (As P.T. Barnum) Girls, I think I've had an idea.

MONDELLO: Hugh Jackman as circus impressario P.T. Barnum.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GREATEST SHOWMAN")

JACKMAN: (As P.T. Barnum) I'm putting together a show. It's a place where people can see things they've never seen before.

MONDELLO: That maybe they didn't want to see.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GREATEST SHOWMAN")

JACKMAN: (As P.T. Barnum) Don't listen to them. They don't understand yet, but they will. (Singing) So tell me do you want to go?

MONDELLO: Barnum in "The Greatest Showman" knew he could sell the public anything. Tommy Wiseau in "The Disaster Artist" thinks he can sell the public anything. This is the guy who made the cult film "The Room." And though it's widely regarded as the worst film ever made, Wiseau's confidence in his own genius remained unshaken.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE DISASTER ARTIST")

JAMES FRANCO: (As Tommy Wiseau) Well, I give them job. I give them salary. I've spent $5 million on this movie, Greg.

DAVE FRANCO: (As Greg Sestero) Five - are you kidding me?

J. FRANCO: (As Tommy Wiseau) Yeah.

D. FRANCO: (As Greg Sestero) Five million dollars.

J. FRANCO: (As Tommy Wiseau) And they are not grateful. Nobody respects my vision.

MONDELLO: James Franco directs and stars in "The Disaster Artist," recreating the preposterousness of "The Room" with uncanny accuracy and hilarious backstories. A more conventional Hollywood saga is "Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool." Annette Bening plays '50s screen siren Gloria Grahame who, after her star had dimmed, found a bit of happiness with a much younger man.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FILM STARS DON'T DIE IN LIVERPOOL")

ANNETE BENING: (As Gloria Grahame) You're the next-door guy, right?

JAMIE BELL: (As Peter Turner) Which makes you the girl next door.

BENING: (As Gloria Grahame) I need a partner for my dance class. If I make you a drink, will you come into my room and hustle with me?

BELL: (As Peter Turner) If you fix me a drink, I'll come in and clean your bathroom.

MONDELLO: If all this reality isn't what you had in mind for the holidays, and science fiction isn't your thing, there'll be plenty of straight-up escapism. For kids, there's "Ferdinand" about everyone's favorite bull with a big heart.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FERDINAND")

JOHN CENA: (As Ferdinand) I'm not a fighting ball.

GINA RODRIGUEZ: (As Una) You don't need to be a fighting bull. You just have to look like a fighting bull.

KATE MCKINNON: (As Lupe) You see that barrel over there. Smash it to pieces.

CENA: (As Ferdinand) With my head?

MCKINNON: (As Lupe) What else you going to hit it with?

MONDELLO: In the comedy "Father Figures," overgrown kids Owen Wilson and Ed Helms search for their long-lost father.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FATHER FIGURES")

OWEN WILSON: (As Kyle) Top mission is fiding Dad. Sub-mission is going to be having stone crabs. Mission below that...

MONDELLO: In "Permanent," a 13-year-old seeks a good haircut.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PERMANENT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) What's wrong with your head?

MONDELLO: And what do those acappella gals want in "Pitch Perfect 3?"

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PITCH PERFECT 3")

BRITTANY SNOW: (As Chloe Beale) I would do anything to sing with you guys again.

ANNA CAMP: (As Aubrey) One last show together. Who's with me?

ANNA KENDRICK: (As Beca) Hell yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, singing) All we have...

MONDELLO: And if you want to get a leg up on the Oscar race, you'll have a chance to do that, too. A decade ago, Daniel Day Lewis teamed up with director Paul Thomas Anderson for "There Will Be Blood." This time, they've got a fraught love story set in the world of fashion - the "Phantom Thread."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PHANTOM THREAD")

VICKY KRIEPS: (As Alma) Stop playing this game.

DANIEL DAY LEWIS: (As Reynolds Woodcock) What game? What precisely is the nature of my game?

KRIEPS: (As Alma) All your rules and your clothes and all this money and - everything is a game.

LEWIS: (As Reynolds Woodcock) This was an ambush.

MONDELLO: In the Western "Hostiles," Christian Bale suffers lots of ambushes as a cavalry officer on a mission he did his best to avoid.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOSTILES")

ROSAMUND PIKE: (As Rosalie Quaid) Do you believe in the Lord, Joseph?

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Captain Joseph J. Blocker) Yes, I do. But he's been blind to what's going on out here for a long time.

MONDELLO: And Steven Spielberg has been aching to tell the story of the Pentagon Papers for a long time. The New York Times and The Washington Post had the papers in 1971. The Nixon administration tried to stop publication...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE POST")

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: The New York Times was barred from publishing any more classified documents dealing with the Vietnam War.

MONDELLO: ...Leaving the post.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE POST")

RICHARD R. CORAPI: (As Washington Post Attorney) If you publish, we'll be at the Supreme Court next week.

MERYL STREEP: (As Kay Graham) Meaning...

TOM HANKS: (As Ben Bradlee) Well, we could all go to prison.

MONDELLO: Tom Hanks is editor Ben Bradlee, Meryl Streep as publisher Katharine Graham, the press and a president fiercely at odds.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE POST")

HANKS: (As Ben Bradlee) If we don't hold them accountable, who will?

STREEP: (As Kay Graham) We can't hold them accountable if we don't have a newspaper.

MONDELLO: "The Post" will seem like quite the holiday gift in some quarters. But as with most gifts, it's hard to tell how it'll go over till it's opened. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF JOHN WILLIAMS' "THE 1960'S: THE TURBULENT YEARS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.