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New in Theaters Christmas: Daddy's Home, Concussion, Joy, The Big Short, Point Break

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By Chris Kavan - 12/24/15 at 06:41 AM CT

Almost Merry Christmas time here - and what is Hollywood giving us this joyous holiday? The gift of abundance as there are five major movies (four new, one wide expansion) coming out this Friday - plus a couple of big limited releases sure to be making a splash in the coming weeks. But even with all these new, and mostly good, releases, it will still be Star Wars: The Force Awakens that will win the day as it has already set a record for the biggest Monday and Tuesday ever and is likely to set a new Christmas record as well as fastest to $200, $300 and probably $400 million as well. I expect the Force to be strong well in to the new year. But enough about that, there are plenty of movies to cover, so let's begin.

JOY Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and director David O. Russell has been a winning combination. I loved The Silver Linings Playbook and while American Hustle might not have been everything I was hoping for, it was still good. Now comes Joy, the based on the true story of Joy Mangano who became a mogul in her own right when she came up the the Miracle Mop - but not before life threw her its fair share of curveballs. The rest of the cast features the likes of Robert De Niro, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini and Susan Lucci. Based on the trailers the film is part family drama, part female empowerment, part cut-throat business operation and, of course, plenty of character. I don't think Joy will be the film that opens up to the biggest numbers, but I do think it is going to be one of the better choices for the weekend.

THE BIG SHORT Having already picked up a lot of Golden Globe and SAG nominations (as well as winning the AFI Movie of the year, among many other various Critics awards), The Big Short looks poised to be the Oscar front-runner. The topical story, about four misfits in the world of high finance who successfully predict the housing and credit bubble only to be ignored and decide to take on the big banks for their ignorance and greed - has all the elements to succeed. The cast is stellar - Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Melissa Leo, Marisa Tomei, Rafe Spall and Finn Wittrock are just the biggest out of the many names that populate this truly ensemble cast. It really looks like the actors give it their all - pretty much transforming themselves for the sake of this movie. I'm truly looking forward to this one as well - and I expect to hear plenty more about as awards season heats up.

DADDY'S HOME Will Ferrell has had better luck with voiceovers than live action. I'll take Megamind or The LEGO Movie over Anchorman 2 and Get Hard any day of the week. We'll see if Daddy's Home - the tale of deadbeat but fun biological father vs. nice, safe but boring stepdad - can reignite the flame of comedy. Mark Wahlberg is along for the ride as the fun dad and Linda Cardellini plays the wife while Scarlett Estevez and Owen Vaccaro are the children caught in the middle (but don't worry - they're probably the best part of the movie anyway). Thomas Haden Church, Bobby Cannavale and Hannibal Buress are also along for the ride. I mean, the trailers do make the movie look like a lot of fun (once again, seeming Ferrell bean a cheerleader in the head just never gets old), but we'll see if this is enough to raise its prospects into the winner's circle this weekend.

CONCUSSION As ESPN is pretty much on where I work all the time, I have heard a lot about Will Smith and Concussion over the last week or so. Based on the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, a man who discovers a link between football and CTE - a brain trauma directly resulting from the sport - who risks everything to take on one of the most powerful institutions in the world. The subject is suitably compelling but Concussion just leaves me feeling a bit cold. Once again, it has a good ensemble cast - besides Smith, Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Morse, Luke Wilson, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Eddie Marsan are all here to lend their support. I'm sure the film with garner a handful of nomination itself, but unlike Joy and The Big Short, I'm just not feeling this one. A future streaming choice - nothing else for me.

POINT BREAK That leaves us with what I am going to assume is the black sheep of these many holiday releases, the remake of Point Break. Now, the original 1991 film featuring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves is a kind of guilty pleasure for many people. It's not the best film ever, but it has its moments. Me? I never really go into it that much. Which is why this remake makes even less sense to me. For one, it has really not big names Édgar Ramírez and Luke Bracey aren't exactly big A-list names here. The trailers do make it look like they ramp up the whole "extreme" sports angle - but that doesn't mean it's going to be a good movie. The whole Robin Hood thing has been done before, and better, thus I have a hard time justifying this. I don't know how people are going to respond, but my guess is with a collective "Meh". Like so many other mediocre remakes and reboots - this is going to be forgotten quickly.

It's going to be a full weekend - but even with the avalanche of new holiday cheer, it's going to be Star Wars: The Force Awakens that is going to come out on top, while the rest have to settle for the crumbs. I'll be back on Sunday with the full breakdown - especially of all the new records Star Wars is going to break.


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