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New in Theaters December 09: Office Christmas Party, MIss Sloane, Nocturnal Animals

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By Chris Kavan - 12/08/16 at 06:47 AM CT

Feeling some post-Thanksgiving slowdown, last weekend didn't set the world on fire. Granted, the only new film was a niche horror that drew little in the way of attention. This week brings us a good, old-fashioned Christmas comedy, and not one, but two adult-targeting dramas (in an already-crowded market). For those who like to keep track of potential Oscar nominees, La La Land, one of the films with the biggest pre-awards season buzz, opens in limited release. All said, the comedy has the upper hand, if only because it's running unopposed, but Moana and Fantastic Beasts could still put up a fight.

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY Tis the season for a good laught, right? If there was ever a year people needed to sit back, relax and unload - well, it couldn't be more on the nose. T.J. Miller plays branch manager Clay Vanstone, who learns that his no-nonsense sister, Carol (Jennifer Aniston) plans to shut him down - unless he can land a multi-million dollar client (Courtney B. Vance). Clay recruits the help of his Chief Technical Office (Jason Bateman) and together they plan the most epic of office Christmas parties. I have seen the trailers and TV spots and I have to say this looks pretty good. Besides the comedic gold already mentioned, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Rob Corddry, Randall Park, Jamie Chung, Abbey Lee and Jillian Bell are all on hand for the festive occassion. Of course it looks like things are going to get way out of control but, in the spirit of the season, I bet Miller somehow figures out how to keep things operating - client or no. This one is rated R so I'm sure there's plenty of language thrown around but because it really has no direct competition to speak of, it should do pretty good at the box office.

MISS SLOAN The first of two adult-oriented dramas arriving this week, Miss Sloan (played by Jessica Chastain) is about one of the most powerful lobbyist in Washington, D.C. who finds herself going up against her most powerful opponent to date and that the price of coming out on top may be too high to pay this time around. Who cares about draining the swamp - political dramas should be all the rage right now. The talent it on board: Mark Strong, John Lithgow, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, Sam Waterston, Dylan Baker and Jake Lacy are here to class things up a notch. Chastain has proven herself a versatile and exceptional actress - plus it's great to see such a meaty role going to a woman. If she can pull another Zero Dark Thirty who knows, maybe she can get another nominee out of this one. My only concern is that so many films are going after the adult market right now it may be hard to stand out in the crowd but I have a hope this will succeed where so many others have faded.

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS As if one adult drama wasn't enough, let's go for two. Expanding out of limited release is the Jake Gyllenhaal/Amy Adams drama Nocturnal Animals. Gyllenhaal plays the ex-husband to Adams, who sends her a manuscript for her to read and as she does (creating a film within a film starring Isla Fisher, Michael Shannon and an unhinged Aaron Taylor-Johnson), she realizes this is part revenge and perhaps part warning. Now, if you've seen the recent TV trailers, you may think this is all action - but apparently this is much more of a taut psychological thriller that has been well-received. I'm not exactly sure what they hope to accomplish by essentially misleading audiences, but I would rather go with the cerebral aspect rather than some nascent mindless action. In any case, I have my eye on this one, though I'll probably save it for streaming. Once again, it will have to somehow stand out of the crowd to succeed, but I think Miss Sloan has the upper hand.

It should be a decent weekend with plenty of comedy and drama on hand. We'll see if Moana can sail to one more win or if the new entries can finally take Disney down.


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