Part 3: A look ahead at fall films
Here's the third in a three-part series looking at fall films.
To label this summer a disappointment is an understatement. Granted, “The Avengers” managed to inexplicably exceed expectations, but so many others either failed to meet them (sorry, “The Dark Knight Rises,” sling it somewhere else, “Spider-Man”) or just downright bombed (“Battleship,” “Dark Shadows,” “That’s My Boy,” “The Bourne Legacy”).
It was the summer of small wonders, from the raunchy Teddy Ruxpin in “Ted” to the magic of “Magic Mike,” to the glowing “Moonrise Kingdom,” tiny budgets turned in big profits.
Enter the autumn slate. Fall is already abuzz with a number of prestigious pictures that are garnering effusive praise at film festivals before launching into local theaters. Here’s a sample of some of the bigger offerings ready to wipe away our dashed memories of the summer of our cinematic discontent.
“Hyde Park on Hudson”: Bill Murray takes the role of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in this period comedy that focuses on his affair with a distant cousin.
“Playing for Keeps”: Hollywood is still trying to convince us that Gerard Butler is a star in this latest rom-com that casts him as a former star athlete stuck coaching his son’s soccer team. Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman and Catherine Zeta-Jones swoon along the way.
“The Hobbit": An Unexpected Journey” (3-D): Back to Middle Earth goes Peter Jackson in this first volume of a new Tolkien trilogy.
“Les Miserables”: Director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) adapts the much-loved stage musical to the screen. While this is the fifth screen version, it is the first to retain the musical numbers. The cast includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.
“Monsters, Inc.” (3-D): Pixar follows its “Nemo” rerelease with this of its earlier hits, prepping the audience for next summer’s “Monsters University.”
“Zero Dark Thirty”: Undeterred by the recent book release from one of SEAL Team Six’s members, Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) dramatizes the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
“Jack Reacher”: Author Lee Child’s crime series gets the Tom Cruise treatment as he stars as the titular homicide investigator on the trail of a rogue sniper.
“Not Fade Away”: David Chase returns, this time to feature films, starring his “Sopranos” paisan James Gandolfini as the father of a rock musician in the 1960s.
“On the Road”: Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation Bible makes it to the screen with Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen.
“This is 40”: Judd Apatow’s semi-sequel/spinoff of “Knocked Up” that trails Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) as they comedically navigate through middle age.
“Django Unchained”: Quentin Tarantino directs Jamie Foxx as Django, a freed slave who pairs with a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) in an attempt to rescue his wife from a slimy plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).
“The Guilt Trip”: An inventor (Seth Rogen) and his kvetching mother (Barbra Streisand) hit the road together.
“Parental Guidance”: A grandfather (Billy Crystal) agrees to watch his daughter’s children when she (Marisa Tomei) has to leave town on business. Think “Adventures in Babysitting” with a sexagenarian.