Out on Friday 30 December
James Franco meets the parents. Will Smith turns to Love, Time and Death (for pen pals, of course). A Korean war drama with – yes, you didn’t guess it – Liam Neeson.
Yes, here's this week's new releases. Click on for our reviews of Why Him?, Collateral Beauty, Operation Chromite, Monster Trucks, Crash & Burn, and Reset.
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Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally are the straight-laced parents introduced to their daughter’s (Zoey Deutch) new beau – sweary tech millionaire Laird (James Franco). Uh-oh…
Written/directed by Meet the Parents scripter John Hamburg, Why Him? may get defined by its gross-out moments (a tea-bagging by a moose – don’t ask) but it’s a smart gen-gap tale with loveable characters.
Director: John Hamburg; Starring: Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Tangie Ambrose; Theatrical release: December 26, 2016
For a wrenching portrait of grief, see Manchester by the Sea. For a facile, glossily uninvolving treatment, witness this mawkish stab at magical realism from David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada). Will Smith plays an advertising exec who, devastated by his daughter’s passing, pens letters to Love, Time and Death.
This prompts his colleagues to hire actors – among them Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley – to embody these abstractions in a bid to help him heal. A-list sad-faces abound in a film where absurd concept is rivalled only by banal execution.
Director: David Frankel; Starring: Will Smith, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Naomie Harris, Keira Knightley; Theatrical release: December 26, 2016
Before the US invasion of Inchon, the turning point of the Korean War, General MacArthur sent in South Korean spies to lay the groundwork. This fictionalised account features Liam Neeson as a cartoonish MacArthur.
The rest of the film is equally hammy, from melodramatic score to cheesy slo-mo deaths. Entertaining in its own way, though probably not in the way intended.
Director: John H. Lee; Starring: Liam Neeson, Jung-jae Lee, Beom-su Lee; Theatrical release: December 26, 2016
Ice Age’s Chris Wedge swaps animation for live action with this fun creature feature, in which a squid monster at risk from an oil concern takes refuge inside teenager Tripp’s (Lucas Till) SUV.
Rob Lowe provides colour as a Southern-accented sleazeball, while the Free Willy finale has enough vehicular mayhem to excuse its dodgy FX. Transformers-lite for Finding Dory fans who can’t wait to drive.
Director: Chris Wedge; Starring: Jane Levy, Lucas Till, Rob Lowe; Theatrical release: December 26, 2016
Crash & Burn
A doc about Irishman Tommy Byrne, “the greatest racing driver you’ve never heard of”. Byrne reflects on his career as a cocky, super-talented driver who missed out on bigger success due, he claims, to underhand Formula 1 politics.
Detailing his flair on the track and partying off it, this compellingly explores the question: did he ruin his own chance of greatness, or did others deliberately stall him?
Director: Sean O'Cualain; Theatrical release: December 30, 2016
This beautiful-looking doc follows Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied’s 2015 quest to stage his first show as the Paris Opera Ballet’s new dance director (a post he recently quit). There’s plenty of style and grace on offer, but not much drama – even a crew strike fizzles into nothing.
Still, for dance fans this is a fascinating study of the time, effort and logistics that go into a big production.
Directors: Thierry Demaizière, Alban Teurlai; Starring: Benjamin Millepied; December 26, 2016