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New in Theaters Dec. 20: Anchorman 2, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D

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By Chris Kavan - 12/19/13 at 06:42 AM CT

In what is shaping up to be a crowded end-of-year rush at the box office, this weekend sees four movies hitting wide release (one has an early Wednesday opening, and two others are going wide after limited openings). That's nothing compared to the pre-Christmas rush next week when there will be SIX new movies all vying for your attention (not to mention the holdovers from this week and those pryer). What this also means is that there is going to be a lot of competition and not everyone is going to come out a winner over the holidays. We're going to start off strong here just a few days before the movie wave hits.

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES This one has already opened (on Wednesday for the die-hard fans) so it already has a jump on the competition. Anchorman was one of those films I didn't see until it achieved a cult status (much like Big Lebowski and Super Troopers for me) and it remains my favorite of pretty much anything Will Ferrell. And I have to say if the film is halfway as interesting as the marketing Farrell has done (selling Dodge Durangos - popping up on local newscasts - heck, he's even on the cover of Rolling Stone!) then this is going to be the best comedy of the year. However, sequels often fall short of our lofty expectations and even moreso when there is such a buildup. But I am so hoping this doesn't disappoint. Having the original cast back is a big help (you can't go wrong with Paul Rudd, Steve Carell or David Koechner) plus the new additions - Meagan Good, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig and the venerable Harrison Ford - are all welcome. I'm sure there will be some excellent cameos as well. This is the kind of film that could get disastrous reviews and still pack theaters - so far it is running good but not great in that department - but I people will line up for this one. I am anticipating, if not a classic comedy - at least an entertaining one - and if it plays as well as the original, it will be worth the wait.


AMERICAN HUSTLE The latest film from David O. Russell has been burning up the early awards circuit and is pretty much a lock to be at least nominated for several Academy Awards. The film takes a fictionalized account (with some true-to-life elements) dealing with the ABSCAM scandal that took place in the late 70s/early 80s. The big draw here is that Russell is working with people he knows and likes: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (along with newcomers Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K. and Michael Peņa) and by all accounts, it's a terrific ensemble. Also, by all accounts the outfits and hair are fabulously 70s chic. Also, Lawrence and Adams kiss - so there is that to look forward to. Russell has impressed me his efforts of late - both Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter were outstanding. I have a feeling American Hustle is going to join that list.


SAVING MR. BANKS The true story behind Walt Disney's efforts to bring Mary Poppins to the big screen. Author P. L. Travers was notoriously difficult to work with - as she felt a very personal connection to the story and didn't want Disney making a mockery out of what is essentially a story about her (and her family). As played by Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson - this looks like a fun movie. I am especially pleased by the casting of B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman as the Sherman Brothers (responsible for the songs in Mary Poppins). The movie may be a bit too sweet for its own good (awards haven't materialized for this one) but for a live-action film from Disney, you couldn't ask for something much better. I will probably wait to rent this one - but I have a good feeling about it.


WALKING WITH DINOSAURS 3D With Frozen still entrancing most of the family crowd, I don't see this making many waves even if it based on a popular BBC documentary series. Granted, the CGI might be really good and maybe it is the most realistic depiction of dinosaur life on screen (maybe it's even worth the 3D admission) but the fact remains it's just not going to have that wide of appeal - certainly the boys are going to be more interested than the girls (who are still going to Frozen). If there is going to be a clear loser over the weekend, I'm going to have to go with Dinosaurs. It's just too crowded (and going to get moreso) at the box office, and this is sure to be one of the casualties.


It's going to be a busy weekend. Besides all the above films, the latest from Spike Jonze, Her, opens in limited release (it goes wide in January). This is another film that has been getting a lot of awards hype, so it should be interesting to see what numbers it brings in. We'll find out on Sunday just what the weekend brings us.

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