Monday, August 8, 2022

‘The Greatest Showman’ (Featuring Zendaya) Jump Starts Holiday Movies

Zac Efron and Zendaya in “The Greatest Showman.”

No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” – P.T. Barnum

The Greatest Showman” began the slew of holiday movies in grand style December 20th. It by far will leave audiences, young and old, with the infectious theme song  “This Is Me” ringing in their heads, and a joyous bounce in their steps.

But then that’s what B.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) was all about, entertaining crowds and making them smile. Just as important is the message in “Showman” about equality, racism, and bullying.

The film also stars Zendaya, whom Jackman refers to as one of this era’s greatest performers. Zac Efron (he risks his life to save Zendaya), Yahya AbdulMateen II (Zendaya’s brother), Michelle Williams, and Khasan Brailsford also stars.

Next best is “Molly’s Game.” with Idris Elba, Jessica Chastain, Kevin Costner, and Bill Camp that opens on Christmas Day. Elba is “Molly’s” lawyer in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut based on Molly Bloom’s memoir. Nicknamed the poker princess by tabloids, Bloom provided a poker den for the rich and famous until taken down by the government

Will Smith is back with “Bright” (12/22) for the holidays. It is a high action, sci fi with a message about diversity. But, it’s also hilarious. Directed by David Ayer, “Bright” follows two cops from very different backgrounds. Ward (Smith), a human and Jakoby an orc (Joel Edgerton), embark on a routine night patrol that will alter the future of their world as they know it.

Battling both their own personal differences as well as an onslaught of enemies, they must work together to find a weapon everyone is ready to kill for. During that search, Smith overcomes his prejudices.

Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in “Molly’s Game.”

In “Hostile,” (12/22) directed by Scott Cooper, an army captain (Christian Bale) who starts out hating Native Americans, has to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family back to Montana. Making the harrowing and perilous journey, the former rivals become friends. The film also stars Adam Beach (Black Hawk) and Jonathan Majors, Bales’ friend and comrade Corp. Woodsen.

In this terrific, tense drama they meet a widow (Rosamund Pike), whose family was murdered on the plains. She joins forces with them to fight the Comanche and vicious outliers they encounter.

The Post” (12/22) is the brilliant Steven Spielberg story about The Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers that exposed the government’s lies about the Vietnam war. Meryl Streep (Katherine Graham) is The Post’s publisher and Tom Hanks (Ben Bradlee) is its executive editor.

The last scene conjures up another government scandal that caused President Nixon to resign. That scene shows a black security guard, Frank Wills (JaQwan J. Kelly), discovering the Watergate wiretapping of the DNC. Wills never got the recognition he deserved and died in poverty.

Christopher Plummer in ‘All the Money in the World’

All the Money in the World” (12/22) just shows you can’t buy happiness or sanity. This edge of your seat, compelling thriller directed by Ridley Scott, follows the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) and his mother Gail (Michelle Williams) efforts to convince his billionaire grandfather (Christopher Plummer) to pay the ransom.

When Getty Sr. refuses, the tension rises to a fever pitch. With Paul’s life Gail attempts to sway him as her son’s captors become increasingly volatile and brutal. With her son’s life hanging in the balance, Gail and Getty’s advisor (Mark Wahlberg) become unlikely allies in the race against time. Directed

Directed by Trish Tie, “Pitch Perfect 3” (12/22) is rumored to be the last in the series of “Pitches.” And it just might be time to say sayonara. It must be said, however, that Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and Hailee Steinfeld could not have had better co-stars than members of the USO this time around.

Now graduated from college and in the real world where it takes more than a cappella to get by, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren’t job prospects for what they do. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, they get together for one last time.

Last and least is “Father Figures” (12/22), directed by Lawrence Sher, with Owen Wilson, J.K. Simmons, Ed Helms, Glenn Close, and Katt Williams. Avoid this one at all costs. Although a comedy, it strains for jokes. The line about sex being more exciting with your sister is not only humorless, but offensive.       Twitter: @thefilmstrip


Marie Moore
Veteran syndicated journalist who covers film and television.




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