Holiday Movie Preview 2010: Comedy/Family

The Holiday season is known for awards contenders, but why so serious? There are five family films/comedies that will offer a nice alternative to all the dramatic fare these next six weeks with a nice balance of familiar material and new (but not necessarily fresh) ideas.

5. Yogi Bear (Dec. 17)

Directed by Eric Brevig
Written by Jeffrey Ventimilia, Joshua Sternin, Brad Copeland
Starring: Tom Cavanagh, Anna Faris, (voices) Dan Akyroyd, Justin Timberlake

The Word: As strong of a reputation as Warner Bros. has, it’s taking a risk by pinning its Holiday cash flow on this live action/CGI adaptation of the classic cartoon “Yogi Bear,” no doubt made possible by the success of the Chipmunks movies. The film stars Tom Cavanagh as Ranger Smith alongside Anna Faris — as far as the humans go. Dan Akyroyd, Justin Timberlake and Christine Taylor voice Yogi, Boo-Boo and Cindy. Get ready for a winter pic-a-nic.

My Thoughts: I couldn’t be more turned off by what I’ve seen from this adaptation of one of my favorite Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I think the only appealing thing is Timberlake voicing Boo-Boo. I can’t stand seeing live action and CGI together, however, unless the concept thrives on it (see “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”) Then again, there’s nothing else for the really little ones this holiday season, so it stands to do well.

4. Gulliver’s Travels (Dec. 22)

Directed by Rob Letterman
Written by Rob Letterman and Nicholas Stoller, Jonathan Swift (novel)
Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet

The Word: Does Jack Black still have what it takes? With exception of lending his voice to “Kung Fu Panda,” which he did (and will do again) quite well, the comedian hasn’t had his name alone atop the marquee with any success since 2006’s “Nacho Libre.” His last co-starring effort with Michael Cera in Harold Ramis’ “Year One” was an immense flop, but now he joins up with “Monsters vs. Aliens” director Rob Letterman to bring a modern (and 3D) twist to Jonathan Swift’s classic tale of a man finding himself lost at sea and ending up in a village of tiny people.

My Thoughts: The humor is definitely geared toward a younger audience from what the trailer indicates, but with Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek”) contributing writing credits, there’s some hope for the humor of this film. It will all rest on Black’s giant shoulders, however — of that we can be certain.

3. Tangled (Nov. 24)

Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Written by Dan Fogelman, The Brothers Grimm (story)
Starring: (voices) Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi

The Word: Last year, Disney returned to hand-drawn animation with “The Princess and the Frog.” At the time, a CGI film “Rapunzel” was in the works. Despite a big total for “Frog,” Disney feared alienating young boys and changed the name of this film to “Tangled” and more prominently featured Flynn (Levi), the lead male. So what are we really in for? Expect traditional Disney fairytale stuff — with music. “Tangled” will break ground in some of the technology that was used to make the CGI feel more hand-drawn.

My Thoughts: I normally revert to man-child when it comes to Disney films, but Disney’s odd marketing choices for “Tangled” have tempered that somewhat (such as the clip that mocks the “double rainbow” YouTube video). Levi could make this traditional story more amusing, or this could just be really typical stuff. (Pet animal sidekicks and whatnot). Disney doesn’t misfire that often, however, especially lately, so keep an eye on the hair as Thanksgiving nears.

2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Dec. 10)

Directed by Michael Apted
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni, C.S. Lewis (novel)
Starring: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter

The Word: Things looked bleak for the “Narnia” franchise when Disney decided not to co-finance/produce any more films after “Prince Caspian” made more than $350 million less than “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” which is usually the sign of a waining franchise. Luckily for fans, Fox stepped in. “Dawn Treader” takes the two youngest Pevensies back to Narnia with their unimaginative snobby cousin Eustace where they will travel the seas with King Caspian (Barnes) to many new lands in search of the seven lost lords.

My Thoughts: One of my personal favorite books, it will be interesting to see if the series picks up more steam moving back to a Holiday time slot (“Caspian” was released in May). “Dawn Treader” definitely tops the list of family-friendly movies this holiday season as far as appeal to all ages (“Yogi Bear” is certain more inviting to young ones). “Prince Caspian” was okay, but the book was not as memorable either. “Dawn Treader” could be better on content alone and with a new creative team, who knows?

1. Little Fockers (Dec. 22)

Directed by Paul Weitz
Written by John Hamburg and Larry Stuckey, Greg Glienna and Mary Ruth Clarke (characters)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner

The Word: Those Fockers are back. Who would have thought “Meet the Parents,” a simple comedy about a man getting married whose skeptical ex-CIA father-in-law gives him hell would turn into a franchise family comedy? This film is all about the kids, with Greg now having to prove himself to Jack as a capable family patriarch. Jack gets particularly skeptical as a cash-strapped Greg starts pushing a new E.D. drug.

My Thoughts: The humor has generally been memorable in these films. Do I need another “Meet The” or “Fockers” movie? No. Will I complain when I inevitably get dragged to it during the holidays with my family? Probably not. These films are what they are and the Stiller/DeNiro dynamic works. Much of it was also filmed in Chicago, so my partiality comes into play.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment