December Movie Reviews: The Hobbit, Les Miserables and More

The Hobbit

The long-awaited prequel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy hits theaters on December 14th, 2012, with Martin Freeman starring as the lovable Bilbo, and Ian McKellan returning as Gandalf the Grey. J.R.R. Tolkein’s first novel was previously adapted into a cartoon, but Bilbo’s tale has not been retold on-screen since 1977. The story follows home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and the adventures he has once he allows Gandalf to coax him away from The Shire. These adventures include an alliance with a band of raucous dwarves, a quest to steal treasure from the dragon Smaug, and the accidental discovery of a treasure far more powerful. Directed by Peter Jackson, The Hobbit promises a fantastic journey for children and adults alike.

Les Miserables

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo and the Broadway musical of the same name, Les Miserables is the tale of a criminal’s redemption and a country’s revolution. Set in 19th Century France, Les Miserables follows petty thief Jean Valjean as he steals, stumbles, and is given a second chance, with which he attempts to repay the kindness that set him free. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, and starring names like Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried, the second motion picture adaptation of the play is a unique undertaking, in that all vocals were recorded live, as opposed to prerecorded in a studio. Directed by Tom Hooper, known for directing The King’s Speech, Les Miserables opens on Christmas day, and has a long tradition of theatrical and cinematic grandeur to live up to.

Playing for Keeps

Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Uma Thurman, and Dennis Quaid star in this romantic comedy about soccer, family, and discovering what matters most. Butler plays a retired professional soccer player who wrestles with his failed career, his love life, and his role as a father when he begins coaching his son’s soccer team. In theaters on December 7th, 2012, Playing For Keeps is the second Hollywood film directed by Gabriele Muccino; The Pursuit of Happyness was his first, and likewise, Playing For Keeps offers an uplifting tale of second chances.

This is 40

The latest from Judd Apatow, This is 40 revisits Debbie and Pete, a couple first seen in Knocked Up. Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, and opening on December 21st, 2012, the comedy catalogs the extraordinary and hilarious moments within Pete and Debbie’s “ordinary” aging relationship. As Pete and Debbie take on their health, their finances, the raising of their children, and each other, Apatow is sure to make us laugh and cringe, all at the same time.

The Guilt Trip

A road trip movie of a different ilk, The Guilt Trip stars Seth Rogen as an inventor who goes on a cross-country trip to sell his newest product, and unwittingly invites his aging mother, played by Barbra Streisand, to come along. A rare mother and son comedy, The Guilt Trip, like several of the other movies in this list, explores what it means to be getting old, as well as the frustrations and joys that are part of any family bond. Directed by Anne Fletcher, choreographer for movies such as Step Up and Hairspray, The Guilt Trip is set to release on December 19th.

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