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2004 Holiday Movie Preview

by Mike Calahan

As the holiday season begins its downward spiral into an orgy of spending, gluttony and passive-aggressive behavior toward family members, Tinseltown delivers a selection of films, all opening on Christmas day, that are guaranteed to delight and entertain the whole family.


First, it's time to hitch up the wagons and travel back to 1846 with Pixar’s much anticipated film The Donner Party. Using their faultless combination of state-of-the-art animation and celebrity voices, Pixar brings this delightful tale of pioneering, family and cannibalism to a whole new generation. Renee Zellweger and the incomparable Rodney Dangerfield, in his final performance, star as the voices of George and Tamsen Donner who, with their friends the Reeds and the Breens, brave the merciless winter across treacherous landscapes in pursuit of new beginnings in a young, American West. Along their journey, they encounter directional misfortune, murder and starvation, all with hilarious results. No doubt, this season, children of all ages will be quoting Mr. Donner (many of whose lines were ad-libbed by Dangerfield) who delivers such lines as “Whoa, whoa. I thought I told you kids not to bite the hand that feeds ya. Jeesh!” and “Honey, I said to chew the fat, not chew ON the fat.” In addition to the voice talents of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and The O.C.’s Adam Brody, audiences will relish the exchanges between Sam and Nilla, the wise-cracking vultures (as voiced by Gilbert Gottfried and Ray Romano). Britney Spears supplies the theme song with her interpretation of Duran Duran’s "Hungry Like The Wolf."

Rated PG (adult innuendos)
Running Time: 1 hr, 52 min.



Next, Michael Moore returns with another controversial expose with his long-awaited film, Something Jolly This Way Comes. In this, Moore tries to expose the truth behind the slave labor that has been going on for hundreds of years by focusing his attention on toy factory #45, one of many sweatshops ‘conveniently isolated’ in the outer reaches of the North Pole. Using both new and existing footage of the toy factories (or as they are called by elves, as we learn, ‘Cold Hells’), Moore shows atrocities never before imagined, atrocities that continue to elude international law to this very day. In one of the more poignant scenes, Stumpy, a 235-year old elf who escaped captivity after having his right hand amputated for painting the wrong eye color on a doll, recalls how the man known to millions as Santa is, “.....nothing more than a dictator, a monster! He used to put two elves in a ring and watched as they’d beat each other to death using Wiffle Ball bats! This is what he did for fun. None of you would ever pay to sit on Idi Amin’s lap at the mall, so what’s the difference?!” Moore hopes this film inspires the international community to stop turning its back on the horrors in the frozen north.


Finally, in the wake of such theme-park inspired blockbusters as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, Disney once again reaches into its bag of popular attractions for what is expected to be their most successful endeavor yet: The People Mover. This plotless film takes viewers through slow-paced thrills and moments of near standstill. Preview audiences and critics everywhere agree, Disney proves once again that they make movies that get released into theaters.

Gene Shalit wrote: “As I’m watching this, I’m thinking ‘am I being Punk’d?’” Leonard Maltin wrote: “Watching this film did more for me than dried prunes with an Ex-Lax chaser ever did.” And Ebert and Roeper were unanimous: “What the hell was that?”

Disney’s The People Mover is the perfect holiday movie for kids who suffer from severe apathy and those with pre-exisiting heart conditions.

Rated G
Running Time: reports vary from twenty minutes to eleven hours.


Any ideas for next year's holiday fare?


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