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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

"The Adventure of Tintin" is one of a slew of films coming out in December that promise to be more appealing than eating fruitacke, studying for finals or watching bad Tim Allen movies.

There's a reason for cheer this December

I adore the holiday season. Christmas music, sparkly lights, a general air of happiness, delicious sugar-ridden treats that induce that yearly 3-to-5-pound weight gain over the course of a month-yes, fond memories. However, I can't help but be a little alarmed by the holiday-themed marketing campaigns creeping in well before Thanksgiving.

Like calves raised to slaughter, we're prepared for the annual consumer meltdown that is Black Friday well in advance. And that's just the beginning of the snowballing cornucopia of those nostalgic festivities that leave us in a holiday cheer-induced coma at the end of the month.

Amidst these is one aspect of the holiday season I have a perpetual love-hate relationship with-the slew of movie releases. Films released during this narrow window have a tendency to be slated towards young, easily entertained audiences and parents that need to get their vacationing children out of the house to keep the season from taking a morbid turn for the worse.

This has resulted in the "Santa Clause" sequels, which brought Tim Allen and Martin Short to new lows, Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti's family-bent disaster "Fred Claus" and the nausea-inducing holiday light war "Deck the Halls" with Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito, all of which should never have made it to the film reel, let alone theaters.

Before I start sounding too akin to the Grinch (the scary Jim Carey one, not the lovable, animated Seuss version), I remind you there is a love side to this precarious relationship. In anticipation of the Oscars in February, production companies are gearing up to release some of the best films of the year. In attempt to be fresh on the minds of audiences and judges, December's lineup may not be such a bad egg after all.

The international children's comic phenomenon "The Adventures of Tintin" is being brought onto the silver screen for the first time on Dec. 21, under the direction of Steven Spielberg. The story centers on a scrappy, underestimated redheaded boy, cavorting through various adventures alongside wacky and eccentric characters. The books have been popular in Europe since their debut in a 1929 Belgian comic strip by author Georges Remi (pen name Hergé).

The most anticipated feature of "Tintin," however, is not the sentimental, childhood-like aura of the story line but rather the evocation of a classic book through cutting-edge technology. The comics were drawn in the distinguished ligne claire style, characterized by bright and focused simplicity. Through the use of motion-capture animation, Spielberg, in collaboration with James Cameron, turned the project into a beautiful rendition of the childhood classic without the gaudy or extra-cartoonish features often associated with animated films.

While I'm fondly remembering family festivities in anticipation of winter break, I plan on staying grounded by watching Alexander Payne's (director of "Sideways") latest film "The Descendants," out Dec. 16. Rife with dramatic realities of family life set on the utopian backdrop of a Hawaiian island, "The Descendants" looks like a promising and refreshing family comedy gone awry. George Clooney, playing the attorney and father Matt King, even keeps his ego in check and is delightfully vulnerable. With excellent directing, acting and screenwriting, "The Descendants" is going to be a breath of fresh air amidst the hackneyed family-fun Christmas movies.

Although avid fans of the book series may be quick to draw conclusions about the American rendition of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," especially after the mass success of the Swedish version, I propose they rethink their judgment. Brainchild of director David Fincher, director of "The Social Network," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and cult classic "Fight Club," "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" already has major potential. The talented and hyper-beautiful combination of Daniel Craig as journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as the punk hacker Lisbeth Salander should make for an entertaining, seedy cinematic rendition of the literary phenomenon.

What are your most anticipated films of December? Or do you think all holiday-time movies are garbage? Send your comments and questions to Riley at


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