Christmas always brings a whole slate of new films, so let Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers be your guide this week At the Movies. There are three big films hitting multiplexes this Christmas weekend, and while none of them are lumps of coal, they aren’t exactly Nintendo Wiis or Tickle Me Elmos or whatever it is that the kids hope to be unwrapping on December 25th, either.
First, there’s Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed detective and Jude Law as his sidekick Watson. As always, it’s a pleasure to see Downey Jr. on the big screen. Unfortunately, director Guy Ritchie is at the reins of this film, and he dumbs down the Sherlock wit into a period piece that’s more like an action caper a la Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels than The Hound of the Baskervilles. Ritchie’s Sherlock is chaotic and noisy, but worth the price of admission thanks to RDJ and Law’s bromance.
For the older, rom-com crowd, there’s It’s Complicated. If you don’t enjoy watching 50-year-olds talking about and having sex, this is not the film for you. Go see Avatar. If this sounds up your alley, you’ll be happy to know that the crux of this film is its all-star cast, featuring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin as a divorced couple who have a fling after Streep’s character starts dating another man, played by Steve Martin. This film also stars The Office‘s John Krasinski and Baldwin’s younger lover played Lake Bell, who only add to make this love triangle even more complicated.
For the musical crowd, Nine is the event of the year, as Daniel Day-Lewis navigates through a bevy of lovers in this remake of Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2. It’s directed by Chicago helmer Rob Marshall, so expect tons of quick cuts and music video editing, but Day-Lewis’ amazing cast of vixens — Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Fergie, Kate Hudson and Marion Cotillard to name a few — continually light up the screen. Travers says the film is hit-and-miss, but musical junkies shouldn’t miss out.
Finally, there’s one film that comes highly recommended: Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which features actor Heath Ledger’s last ever big screen role. Ledger died halfway through production — his scenes were then filmed with Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law in his place — but this incredible, imaginative and eye-catching film is a fitting goodbye to Ledger, one of the great actors of his generation.