By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As December tiptoes towards January, as leisure time expands and moviegoing increases and the Oscar races reveal themselves, the movie industry offers what it hopes will be its greatest Christmas gifts.

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With the week between Christmas and New Year’s traditionally one of the year’s busiest times at movie theatres, when even folks who rarely venture inside a theatre visit a multiplex or two, the lineup has to at least look promising.

So what are the new attractions moviegoers will be choosing among at multiplexes on this year’s final week and immediately beyond?

Let’s take a look…

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is the sequel to the Will Ferrell comedy vehicle that introduced “You stay classy, San Diego” from the mouth of his narcissistic, chauvinistic, emptyheaded TV anchorman.  It’s been nearly a decade since Ferrell (top photo), Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate sent up TV newscasters in the broad, raucously funny original.  This time the team is delivering the news on cable’s 24-hours-a-day Global News Network.

The Wolf of Wall Street teams –- for a fifth time — director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, who has supplanted Robert De Niro as the auteur’s go-to leading man. It’s a serious-minded but comedic biographical drama about the financial collapse of 2008, with DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a real-life stock market whiz who created a Wall Street empire with junk bonds and winds up in prison after refusing to cooperate in a securities fraud case. Talk about your mean streets!

American Hustle finds director David O. Russell rounding up the principal cast members, all at least Oscar-nominated, from his last two movies, Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter   (that is, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and cameoing Robert De Niro) for this fictionalized take on Abscam, the 1970s investigation into political corruption that focuses on the intersection of the government and the New York mob.

Saving Mr. Banks is a behind-the-scenes biodrama about the making of 1964’s Mary Poppins, the Oscar-winning musical fantasy-comedy.  Emma Thompson portrays author PL Travers, author of the series of beloved children’s books about a magical nanny, opposite Tom Hanks as Walt Disney, the studio head who struggled to produce the film despite her many objections in lengthy and bumpy negotiations with the ornery writer, as she protected the integrity of her creation.

Walking with Dinosaurs is this holiday season’s animated attraction for the family audience, offering computer-animated creatures in live-action settings.  PG-rated and based on a BBC television series, it’s the story of the triumph of an underdog dinosaur when those huge creatures ruled the Earth, with a voice cast led by John Leguizamo and Justin Long.  And it’s available in 3-D as an immersive experience for youngsters looking for a vicarious experience in the prehistoric era.

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Grudge Match might have an answer of sorts to the question, “Who would win a fight between Rocky and Raging Bull?”  But this is a comedy, after all, one that teams the stars (Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro) who portrayed fictional Rocky Balboa and real-life middleweight champ Jake La Motta in 1976’s Rocky and 1980’s Raging Bull, respectively.  They play retired sixtysomething ex-boxers who are coaxed to step into the ring for the time-honored “one last fight.”

(Alan Arkin, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert De Niro star in "Grudge Match.")

(Alan Arkin, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert De Niro star in “Grudge Match.”)


47 Ronin stars Keanu Reeves as part of an ensemble of Japanese actors in an action fantasy, a fictionalized account of a real-life band of samurai attempting to avenge the murder and dishonor of their master and the banishment of their group at the hands of a ruthless shogun in 18th-century feudal Japan.  Reeves plays a half-British, half-Japanese outcast who joins them in their difficult quest in this PG13-rated thriller that’s also available in 3-D.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty — directed by its star, Ben Stiller -– is a comedy remake, an updated adaptation of humorist James Thurber’s 1939 short story about a daydreamer that became a Danny Kaye movie in 1947.   Stiller, in the director’s chair for a fifth time, plays a timid office worker, a magazine photo editor living vicariously in his world of fantasy, hoping to hang onto his job in the failing economy, and trying to summon the courage to approach fetching a co-worker (Kristen Wiig).

Inside Llewyn Davis is a melancholic period-piece musical comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen, a week in the life of a singer-songwriter of questionable talent who’s mooching and struggling in his thirties, attempting to make ends meet while trying to make it as a solo artist in the New York City folk music scene in the early 1960s.   Oscar Isaac stars in the title role, and he’s supported by Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, and F. Murray Abraham.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a warts-and-all biographical drama depicting over fifty years in the momentous life of the late Nelson Mandela, featuring Idris Elba as the late leader and Naomie Harris as his wife, Winnie Madikizela.  It’s a chronicle of his rural-village childhood that travels through his career as an idealistic lawyer, his anti-apartheid activism, his lengthy prison stay, and his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.

With all these features coming soon, enjoy your end of-the-year moviegoing!

More Bill Wine Movie Reviews

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