Christmas is a time of peace on Earth, good will toward men -- except at the movies, where it's a weekend of violent cowboys, broken-down country singers, hedonistic Hollywood hermits, paranoid fathers-in-law, tiny armies and lonely magicians.
'True Grit' (PG-13)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper
Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
What's It About? This remake of the classic 1969 John Wayne western reportedly hews closer to the original Charles Portis novel. It's still the tale of a fierce-willed 14-year-old girl (Steinfeld) who teams up with drunken, one-eyed marshal Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) and a green Texas ranger (Damon) to hunt down the outlaw (Brolin) who killed her father.
Why Should You See It? After their modern-day western 'No Country for Old Men,' the Coens prove just as adept at the traditional kind. Bridges, who is on a roll these days, imbues Rooster Cogburn with so much snarling, cranky charisma that he banishes the memory of Wayne's Oscar-winning performance. And Steinfeld, in a debut performance to be reckoned with, easily holds her own opposite vets like Bridges and Damon and pretty much carries the movie on her slender shoulders.
You Might Like It If You Like: The original 'True Grit,' 'The Searchers,' 'Miller's Crossing'
Interview with Matt Damon (VIDEO)
Twelve Totally Random Reasons Jeff Bridges Is Awesome
10 Best Coen Brothers Characters
Watch a Scene From the Movie and Mr. Moviefone's Six Second Review
'Little Fockers' (PG-13)
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Teri Polo, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Jessica Alba
Directed by: Paul Weitz
What's It About? In the third go-round for these characters, nurse Greg Focker (Stiller) has been married to Pam (Polo) for a few years now, and they even have pair of five-year-old twins, but his father-in-law, retired spy Jack (De Niro), is still suspicious of Greg's fidelity and suitability as a provider for Pam and the children. Beside's Jack's constant surveillance, there's also Pam's ex, Kevin (Wilson) still hanging around, not to mention Greg's exuberantly embarrassing parents (Hoffman and Streisand).
Why Should You See It? Well, the first two Focker frolics were big hits. Also, no one does humiliation like Stiller. It's a rare chance to see Streisand, who hasn't appeared in a movie since the last Focker flick six years ago. Paul Weitz, taking over the franchise from Jay Roach, has directed some memorable, unexpectedly heartfelt comedies, including the original 'American Pie' and 'About a Boy.'
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Meet the Parents,' 'Meet the Fockers,' 'Along Came Polly'
Showtimes & Tickets | Reviews
Best Boner Jokes in Movies: 6 Crotch Gags That Make Us Stand Up and Salute
Read our Review of 'Little Fockers'
'Gulliver's Travels' (PG)
Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet
Directed by: Rob Letterman
What's It About? In this kid-friendly update of Jonathan Swift's classic satire, Gulliver (Black) is an aspiring reporter who gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle and discovers the land of Lilliput, whose wee natives regard him as literally the biggest thing ever to happen to them. Gulliver tries to pass himself off as a big deal in his world, but when Lilliput goes to war, he has to back up his braggadocio and demonstrate some actual character.
Why Should You See It? The striking image of Gulliver as a giant tied down and staked by the little Lilliputians never gets old -- especially in 3-D. Kids, unaccustomed to feeling like the biggest and most importat person around, are likely to identify with the wish-fulfillment of the impish Black's fantasy. Director Letterman made you and your kids laugh last year with 'Monsters vs. Aliens.'
You Might Like It If You Like: 'Gulliver's Travels' (the classic 1939 animated version), 'Night at the Museum,' 'Shark Tale'
Showtimes & Tickets: 2-D | 3-D | Reviews
Video Interviews: Jack Black | Jason Segel | Emily Blunt
'Country Strong' gives Gwyneth Paltrow a chance to show off her vocal chops as a Nashville star fresh out of rehab whose efforts to return to the top -- aided by her manager husband (Tim McGraw), an up-and-coming musician (Garrett Hedlund) and a rising starlet (Leighton Meester) -- are complicated by romance, jealousy and old demons.
Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer | Reviews
'Somewhere' is another quiet drama from Sofia Coppola ('Lost in Translation') about a jaded movie star trapped in a hotel with a much younger gal. Only this time, the actor (Stephen Dorff) is having his midlife crisis early, and the girl is his 11-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning).
Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer | Read Our Review
'The Illusionist,' animator Sylvain Chomet's follow-up to 'The Triplets of Belleville,' is a poignant, nearly dialouge-free tale drawn from a screenplay by French comedy legend Jacques Tati about a tattered French magician touring Scotland who finds an unlikely relationship with an admiring young girl.
Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer | Reviews
•'TRON: Legacy' -- 'True Grit' (starring Jeff Bridges) and 'Country Strong' (starring Garrett Hedlund) might be sold out, but you could see them both for the price of one movie ticket here. In case the prospect of nonstop 3-D CGI spectacle wasn't enough of a draw. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
•'Rabbit Hole' -- There's unexpected humor and hopefulness in this drama about bereaved parents struggling to move past their grief. Also an Oscar-caliber performance by Nicole Kidman. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
•'The King's Speech' -- In which Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush demonstrate the therapeutic benefits of cussing, thereby proving they're not making some stuffy British costume drama -- and probably earning themselves both Oscar nominations along the way. Showtimes & Tickets | Watch the Trailer
New on DVD This Week: The new film 'The Tourist' and this summer's 'Salt' seem to have a lot in common: same studio, same star (Angelina Jolie), same basic premise (a retro thriller in which Jolie plays an international woman of mystery). So why did 'Tourist' fizzle while 'Salt' sizzled? Maybe because 'Salt' didn't try for cuteness or tongue-in-cheek humor. It's a no-nonsense, straight-up, old-school Cold War spy adventure, in which Jolie plays a CIA agent who may also be a Russian assassin. Or maybe because 'Salt' is a one-woman showcase for Jolie's formidable gifts; no Johnny Depp necessary. Buy or rent the DVD | More new DVD releases
Movie Homework: Forty-one years before Jeff Bridges donned his eyepatch for the new 'True Grit,' John Wayne won his first and only Oscar for the role of ornery one-eyed marshal Rooster Cogburn. No wonder Wayne wanted to revisit the role, which he did six years later in a sequel titled (naturally) 'Rooster Cogburn' (1975). As in 'True Grit,' a gal enlists Cogburn to hunt down the man who killed her father, and she insists on going along for the ride. Only this time, she's not a 14-year-old, she's the mature Katharine Hepburn. Her presence turns the film into a bantering adventure, 'The Aftrican Queen' with spurs. Worth seeing simply because it's the only time these two screen immortals ever worked together. Buy or rent the DVD
On Our Netflix Queue: With the passing last week of director Blake Edwards, there were a lot of memories shared of such hits as 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' '10,' 'Victor/Victoria' and all the Pink Panther films. But an underrated film favored by many Edwards fans is 1968's 'The Party,' a farce in which Edwards regular Peter Sellers plays an Indian actor (a performance no one could really get away with today) who accidentally wreaks havoc at a Hollywood party. See it quick, before the industry ruins it by remaking it with Sacha Baron Cohen. Buy or rent the DVD
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.