There’s only so much family socializing you can do once the presents are opened and the holiday dinner is making its way through your digestive tract. May I suggest something cinematic to get you out of the house? There’s certainly no lack of options right now, including a few that are safe for parents and kids who might want to tag along.
To help you choose, here’s the skinny on 10 new movies in theaters over the holidays.
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
The Story: A passion project for Steven Spielberg, this 3D animated adaptation of the classic Belgian comic follows cub reporter Tintin, his dog Snowy, and a comically alcoholic sea captain on a globetrotting adventure to find hidden treasure.
Good if you’re into: Hergé; the non-creepy variety of motion-capture animation; cool opening credits; great casts (motion-capture king Andy Serkis is the captain); Indiana Jones-style action sequences.
Fun for the whole family? You betcha!
The Story: A charming, monochromatic, silent film about the dawn of the talkies and its effect on an actor and actress whose respective careers are on opposite trajectories.
Good if you’re into: Classics like “Singin’ in the Rain”; great dog performances; fascinating faces; title cards; keeping up with likely Oscar contenders.
Fun for the whole family? There’s nothing objectionable – unless the young ones don’t want to read dialogue.
The Story: Filmmaker Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) teams with George Clooney for a somber comedy-drama in which a descendant of Hawaiian settlers deals with pressures to sell the family land, and the discovery that his wife was cheating on him before an accident put her in a coma.
Good if you’re into: Dysfunctional families; gorgeous locales; seeing an annoying teen get cold-cocked; Clooney stretching into touching, sentimental territory; an answer to the question “Whatever happened to Matthew Lillard?”
Fun the whole family? It’s not for kids, but your parents will enjoy it.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO
The Story: David Fincher remakes the Swedish bestseller and international art house hit involving murder, rape and poisonous familial relations in his own, dark image.
Good if you’re into: Scandinavia; body modification; Daniel Craig; strong female characters (star Rooney Mara is terrific); Trent Reznor soundtracks.
Fun for the whole family? Oh, hell no.
The Story: Martin Scorsese applies his sure hand to 3D technology through the period story of an orphan boy with a gift for tinkering, and a connection to early cinema master Georges Melies.
Good if you’re into: Mash notes to the magic of cinema; genuinely good use of 3D; Chloe Moretz in adorably plucky mode; a serving of Sacha Baron Cohen with a big ol’ side of ham.
Fun for the whole family? Ages 10 and up should be properly amazed.
The Story: The end of the world has never looked as beautiful and inevitable as it does through the eyes of Lars von Trier and leading lady Kirsten Dunst in this original mix of family drama, sci-fi, and uncomfortable comedy.
Good if you’re into: Stunning imagery; catatonically depressed heroines; Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde”; actors like Kiefer Sutherland and Alexander Skarsgard playing off-type; the cult of Charlotte Gainsbourg; armageddon.
Fun for the whole family? Between Dunst getting naked and the part about global extinction, that would be a no.
The Story: Jason Segel leads a loving effort to reboot the Muppet franchise with the musical tale of twin brothers – one flesh, one felt – who help Kermit make like the Blues Brothers and get the whole “Muppet Show” team back together for a crucial charity gig.
Good if you’re into: Things from childhood that are as enjoyable as you remember; pop culture references aimed squarely at Boomers and Gen X-ers; seeing Dave Grohl dressed as Animal; having your mind blown by watching Chris Cooper bust a rhyme.
Fun for the whole family: Oh, hell yes.
The Story: Artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen casts the eminently watchable Michael Fassbender as a sex addict whose downward spiral is quickened by a visit from his vulnerable younger sister (Carey Mulligan).
Good if you’re into: Seductive images of New York at night; deeply buried childhood traumas; full frontal nudity; sex scenes in which no one really seems to be having fun; heart-wrenching renditions of “New York, New York.”
Fun for the whole family? I pity the family that thinks so.
WAR HORSE (opens December 25)
The Story: Steven Spielberg – a busy guy this year – brings the story of a bestselling children’s novel and an award-winning play, involving a remarkable horse named Joey and his succession of owners during World War I, to the big screen.
Good if you’re into: Horsemanship; great cinematography; blunt allegory; overblown sentimentality; John Williams; simulated animal suffering.
Fun for the whole family? The battlefield scenes are relatively tame, but the repeated close-ups of Joey in distress are a bit much for anyone.
The Story: Charlize Theron plays a washed-up, alcoholic ex-prom queen who returns to her small hometown to convince her old flame that he’s really not happy with his wife and child in the bitterly funny new film from the writer and director behind “Juno.”
Good if you’re into: The irrepressible Patton Oswalt; Charlize Theron’s Oscar-winning chops; movies that mess with your expectations.
Fun for the whole family? Hipper parents and teens could get into it, but there’s enough sex talk to provoke some uncomfortable sideways glances in the theater.
Melissa Starker is Rocker’s Film Editor, she blogs at http://onceovertwice.tumblr.com/