Christmas Day movie roundup: 'Les MisÃ©rables' and more
It's a bit unfair to tell you about the movies that don't open until Tuesday but you may want plan ahead for Christmas afternoon, when you've opened all the presents and are in desperate need of something to do.
The Christmas Day opening most likely to have folks skipping the roast beast is "Les MisÃ©rables," the long-awaited movie adaptation of the beloved Broadway musical. It's the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), an ex-convict who has jumped parole and forged a new identity, but still has the law in the form of the dogged Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) breathing down his neck. Valjean encounters the tragic Fantine (Anne Hathaway), and adopts her daughter Cosette as his own, and then watches the adult Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) fall for the idealistic Marius (Eddie Redmayne), one of the young rebels on the barricades during the Paris uprising of 1852. Alas, director Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") goes for the human drama, with close-ups tighter than the actors' optometrists would go, and misses the grandeur of the piece.
Somewhat better is "Django Unchained," director-writer Quentin Tarantino's free-form homage to spaghetti Westerns and blaxploitation flicks. Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a freed slave who becomes deputy to a chatty bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz, who steals the show) as he tries to free his beloved wife (Kerry Washington) from a nasty Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Tarantino employs his bag of tricks more judiciously than he did in "Inglorious Basterds." The results are just as audacious and violent, but more human.
Lastly, in every sense, is "Parental Guidance," a family comedy that is hijacked by Billy Crystal's rampaging ego. Crystal and Bette Midler play an older couple who visit their grandkids, and bristle when their daughter (Marisa Tomei) shows them her modern parenting techniques. Crystal plays every scene like a Borscht Belt comic in mid-monologue, with creaky gags and an overbearing presence. Anyone who drags their family to this one deserves coal in their stocking next Christmas.