By Chris Kavan - 08/31/16 at 09:32 AM CT
So what if the summer movie season is over? That doesn't mean we have to kiss all the good movies goodbye. Case in point - though the source material is rather thin, I'm looking forward to seeing the continuation of the Potter universe in the (supposedly) darker Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. We also have a sequel to a raunchy Billy Bob Thorton vehicle featuring the worlds worst Santa and an animal karaoke all-star Sing (I'm sure you've seen the previews already). All in all, not a bad lineup and as we usher in the fall, let's hope the hits keep on coming.
I've been a big fan of Harry Potter ever since I went into a theater to watch the Star Wars: Episode 1 Phantom Menace trailer before the first film and decided this fantastical world wasn't so bad. I ate up the books and the rest of the films with glee - and watched as a handful of lucky, young actors turned into talented adult actors. The continuation of this magical universe sits firmly on the shoulders of another talented actor, Eddie Redmayne and the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. J.K. Rowling essentially wrote a very short book detailing some of the adventures of Newt Scamander and his menagerie of creatures - but this film is going another direction. Taking place in America (New York to be exact) the film follows the wizard as he enters the big city, only to watch as a number of his magical creatures escape, and exasperates the divide between the wizards and the no-maj (aka muggles - non-magic folk for those who are Potter-illiterate). Redmayne has some good support behind him - Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, ZoŽ Kravitz, Katherine Waterston, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler, Jon Voight and Ron Perlman are all on this fantastic journey. I have heard this is going to be a darker tale than the standard Potter films - and I guess we'll see if it lives up to the PG-13 rating for some fantasy action violence. It's one of my more anticipated upcoming movies - we'll see if Rowling and director David Yates (who directed four of the Potter films himself) can keep the magic flowing.
Back in 2003 Billy Bob Thornton presented us with the most crass, depraved and hilarious Bad Santa of them all. It has been a long time, but I think that if he can recapture that spirit, we'll be treated to yet another round of black humor in Bad Santa 2. Now, the rule of thumb on sequels is that the longer you wait between movies, the lower the expectations (Sin City 2, Dumb and Dumber To and Zoolander 2 being prime examples). Too much time just deflates the excitement over the original. Still, Bad Santa was not exactly what I would term a huge movie - it grossed just a bit over $60 million. What it did have was excellent characters and an offbeat story not often seen. Thorton is back, as is his pint-sized partner in crime Marcus (Tony Cox). Heck, even Brett Kelly is returning as Thurman Merman. Joining the festivities are Kathy Bates and Christina Hendricks. It's a film that has a certain appeal, even as it wallows in misery and raunchy humor, and we'll see if audiences are ready a second time around. No surprise here - rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some graphic nudity.
Finally we come to Sing. I've seen plenty of promos, from rabbits singing "Anaconda" or the Carpool Karaoke takeoff on TV. In any case, Illumination Entertainment has been on a roll lately (Despicable Me, Minions, Secret Life of Pets) and I see no reason why this won't continue their streak. It has huge talent on board: Matthew McConaughey as the Koala theater owner trying to keep his business afloat; Taron Egerton as the son of a gorilla gang leader who would rather sing than commit crime; Reese Witherspoon as an overworked pig mother who cares for her family but still has a spark she won't let go; Scarlett Johansson as a rocking porcupine; Seth MacFarlane as a mighty (sneaky) mouse and so many more (Nick Kroll, Leslie Jones, Nick Offerman, John C. Reilly and Jennifer Saunders to name a few). The song selection seems solid, the premise seems promising and anthropomorphic animation is all the rage this year - unless something goes off the rails, I don't see why this won't be just as popular, if not more so, then The Secret Life of Pets. Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril.
Those are the big three this week, but be sure to check out the full MPAA Ratings Bulletin below:
BAD SANTA 2
Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some graphic nudity.
CHRISTMAS ALL OVER AGAIN
Rated PG for some mild rude humor.
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements including sexual material.
CONTRACT TO KILL
Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Rated PG-13 for some fantasy action violence.
Rated R for strong sexual content, language, drug use and teen drinking.
IT HAD TO BE YOU
Rated R for some sexual content and language.
Rated R for language throughout, drug content, some violence and brief nudity.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, teen drinking and some thematic elements.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements.
Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving drug abuse, and some violence.