THERE will be something for everyone to watch at the cinemas on Boxing Day.
After a mad morning of bargain hunting, or relaxing if the post-Christmas sales aren't your scene, an afternoon or evening at the cinema is a tried and true tradition for many of us.
After the mid-December drought when many distributors save their big guns for the bumper holiday period, it's a flood of new offerings competing for your eyes and wallet.
This year there are six big releases not counting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which will continue to do big things at the box office after raking in more than $15 million for Disney in its opening weekend here in Australia.
There are three family offerings that aim to entertain the parents and grandparents as well as the kids.
Sing and Moana are both music-based animations that are sure to have you singing their catchy songs all the way home in the car.
Sing plays on the all-too-familiar concept of singing competitions and stars a cast of cute and cuddly animals. Moana is inspired by Polynesian myths and stories from across the Pacific and boasts some of the most stunning animated ocean scapes since Finding Nemo.
The Red Dog prequel True Blue is an origin story of sorts for the wandering red kelpie made famous in the his 2011 movie. Read more about this new film, starring Levi Miller and a new dog named Phoenix, on the Screen Life page.
For those without little ones in tow, wartime drama Allied and Hollywood romance La La Land both have their faults but manage to evoke the nostalgia of a bygone era.
Finally, there's an adults-only comedy thrown in for good measure, starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco as father and potential son-in-law who don't see eye to eye.
Happy holidays and happy viewing!
IN 1942 Max, a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne, after a mission in Casablanca. When they reunite in London, their relationship is tested when Marianne is accused of being a Nazi spy. While this film, which evokes nostalgia of a bygone era of cinema, has style in spades it lacks some more basic underpinnings. Namely, its two supremely leads lack the chemistry needed to pull off the story. It also feels like it's trying, too hard, to be both a spy thriller and a sweeping period romance. Allied's love story may not sweep you off your feet, but at least the cinematography, locations and music will.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan.
Director: Robert Zemeckis.
Running time: 124 minutes.
La La Land (M)
MIA, an aspiring actress, serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian, a jazz musician, scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair. Same as The Artist took on a semi-homage to 1920s silent film Hollywood and won big in 2011, this film is a homage to 1940s musical melodramas and chances are it will pick up some gongs during the upcoming awards season too. To truly enjoy this film, you simply need to give in to its uber-sweet pastiche and happy-go-lucky dance numbers.
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, JK Simmons, Rosemarie DeWitt.
Director: Damien Chazelle.
Running time: 128 minutes.
IN Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the demigod Maui reaches a Chieftain's island, his impetuous daughter answers the Ocean's call to set things right. Disney has been on a roll in the past few years with Princess movies Frozen, Brave and Cinderella. Moana is a welcome change, featuring a story that is original and fun. Setting out on the ocean to save the day, 16-year-old Moana is a very capable central character sure to inspire girls around the world. The animation is bright and the songs are catchy; this film has a heart as big as the Pacific Ocean.
Stars: Auli'i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Jemaine Clement, Temuera Morrison.
Directors: Ron Clements, Don Hall.
Running time: 113 minutes.
Red Dog: True Blue (PG)
THE family movie genre isn't short of movies about a boy and his dog. It's a well-worn trope but Red Dog: True Blue feels fresh and unique. This iconic Australian story of family, friendship and adventure is a prequel of sorts to the hit 2011 movie starring Josh Lucas and Rachael Taylor. Levi Miller stars as Mick, an 11-year-old boy who forms a close bond with a scrappy one-of-a-kind dog that would grow up to become the Pilbara's legendary Red Dog. Because of its young leads this film feels like it's aimed at a younger demographic than the original. The outback setting is absolutely stunning and, once again, the soundtrack is fantastic.
Stars: Jason Isaacs, Bryan Brown, Levi Miller, Hanna Mangan Lawrence.
Director: Kriv Stenders.
Running time: 89 minutes.
IN THE new animated film from the creators of Despicable Me and Minions, a koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theatre to its former glory by producing the world's greatest singing competition. Matthew McConaughey is charming as Buster but it's a shame the character doesn't have an Aussie accent. Tori Kelly's powerhouse voice (as teenage elephant Meena) is another highlight, from her touching rendition of Hallelujah by the late Leonard Cohen to Stevie Wonder's feel-good song Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing. Sing is a toe-tapping good time that hits all the right notes when it comes to family entertainment.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane.
Directors: Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet.
Running time: 108 minutes.
Why Him? (MA 15+)
DURING the holidays, Ned, an overprotective but loving dad and his family visit his daughter at Stanford, where he meets his biggest nightmare: her well-meaning but socially awkward Silicon Valley billionaire boyfriend, Laird. The straight-laced Ned thinks Laird, who has absolutely no filter, is a wildly inappropriate match for his daughter. This is well-worn territory for the director, who made three Meet The Parents movies. The only bearable moments in this mediocre comedy are thanks to a very talented cast of actors going above and beyond what's expected and somehow finding a way to make you chuckle.
Stars: James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, Megan Mullally.
Director: John Hamburg.
Running time: 111 minutes.
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