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New in Theaters December 22: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Downsizing, Pitch Perfect 3 and More

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By Chris Kavan - 12/21/17 at 06:50 AM CT

There is a lot of ground to cover, as Hollywood looks to blanket the Christmas holiday with plenty of new offerings. Jumanji gets an update, Matt Damon gets shrunk, the Bellas go out with a bang, Hugh Jackman delivers the Greatest Show on Earth, Owen Wilson and Ed Helms find out whose their daddy and Guillermo del Toro offers up another fantastical tale. There's something for everyone - and The Last Jedi too. It's going to get rather crowded, but I have a feeling there will be enough to spread around and it should be a very interesting box office.

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE It has been over 20 years since the original Jumanji (a little over 10 if you count Zathura as a true sequel) has graced the screen. That film was a fun ride, with the late Robin Williams leading the charge as a board game transformed a small town into a jungle - complete with animals and more. This time around, the players enter the game - and instead of an old-school board game, we get a slightly less old-school video game. Four players, four avatars with the scrawny nerd turning into manly Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), while the mighty football star finds himself as the not-so-mighty Moose Finbar (Kevin Hart), the shy girl is the hotpants-wearing kickass Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) while the self-absorbed popular girl turns into Professor Sheldon Oberon (Jack Black). As with any video game - they only have a set amount of lives, along with strengths and weaknesses. In order to win the game, and get back to their real lives, they must face the deadly hunter, Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) who has stolen a jewel they must return to its rightful place. Along the way they find Seaplane McDonough (Nick Jonas) a player they find has been trapped in the game for 20 years. The movie does look like a lot of fun - for not only the setting, but the various role-reversals and it looks like the actors have a lot of fun with it (especially Black - as a teen girl trapped in a middle-aged body). All in all, it may be hard to capture the magic of the original, but I think this looks like it's going to try its hardest.

PITCH PERFECT 3 I have yet to see the first two Pitch Perfect films, but, by all accounts, they are a lot of fun. The combination of Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Ester Dean and Hana Mae Lee (and all the rest), plus some killer music, makes for good times. It's enough that the series made it into trilogy territory and the Bellas find themselves out of the music business and having to deal with real life - no matter how humiliating or disappointing it may be. But when a chance comes to go on a USO tour, the group jumps at the chance to sing together one last time. But the competition is fierce, the groups they are up against actually play instruments and sing their own songs! They are going to have to give everything they have (and maybe more) in order to impress the world one last time.

DOWNSIZING Alexander Payne gives Nebraska a good name, and he is also a fantastic director. His latest features Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a married couple who find their middle-class lifestyle on the brink of falling apart but, after a chance meeting with an old friend, find a new lease on life by downsizing - literally shrinking themselves. They find their meager savings turns into a windfall in the land of the small, while also putting much less strain on the environment and world at large (pun intended people) by shrinking down. The social satire obviously casts light on materialism, capitalism and probably several other -isms in the process. Payne delivers more than disappoints and even if this winds up not being up there with his best, it will certainly be worth watching.

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN Hugh Jackman is a man of many talents. He can be a superhero or a sing a song with equal ease. But he always looks like he's having fun and, with The Greatest Showman, he gets to put all his talent to good use. Inspired by the true life of P.T. Barnum, this original musical follows the journey of one man from a man who had nothing to a visionary that shaped the world of show business and entertainment. The visuals look stunning here and Jackman can sing (heck, he was discovered singing on Oklahoma! before he ever became Wolverine) and it looks like a great family film. It's going to have a lot of competition, but Jackman has talent along with him including Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya and Rebecca Ferguson among others. If Pitch Perfect 3 doesn't satisfy your musical needs (or is too much for the youngest or oldest in your family), Greatest Showman should fit the bill quite handily.

THE SHAPE OF WATER After opening well in limited theaters, Guillermo del Toro's Shape of Water will expand over the long holiday to deliver another darkly fantastical tale that has already impressed critics. The film follows a mute janitor, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) and her friend, Zelda Fuller (Octavia Spencer) who work in a secret government laboratory in the middle of the Cold War. Lonely and isolated, Elisa finds her life forever changed when she comes across a classified experiment - an aquatic humanoid (portrayed by Doug Jones), who she develops a deep connection with. When the decide to spring the creature free, a no-nonsense agent (Michael Shannon, always welcome and fast becoming one of my favorite actors) is sent to find the party responsible and return the creature (or terminate it). Part sci-fi, part Cold War drama, part fantasy romance - this is right in del Toro's wheelhouse and have been getting excellent reviews (along with the most Golden Globes nominations among films). It's hard to say how much this will appeal to a wide audience, but I'm looking forward to this one.

FATHER FIGURES Amidst the films nominated for awards, crowd-pleasing sequels and remakes and family films comes Ed Helms and Owen Wilson in the raunchy Father Figures. The comedic duo learn that their mother (Glenn Close) has been lying to them about their real father, and they set off on a road trip to track him down. Potential candidates include Terry Bradshaw (playing himself), Ving Rhames, J.K. Simmons and Christopher Walken - and they also learn much more about their mother than they ever could have imagined (or truly wanted to). June Squibb, Retta, Katt Williams, Harry Shearer and Katie Aselton help round out the cast. The R-rated movie might be a bit much for the holiday crowd and I have a feeling it's going to get lost in the shuffle of higher-profile film. Still, adults looking to have a good time will probably find this entertaining enough.

That's a lot of choices for the long Christmas weekend (as well as the week after, when all the kids will be home). We'll see how The Last Jedi holds up against this onslaught of competition and, due to the holiday, I'll have a long box office update on Tuesday rather than the usual Sunday. Have a safe and happy time out there with friends and family!


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