New films in theaters this week:
— “The Box” (rated PG-13), a science-fiction thriller starring James Marsden and Cameron Diaz.
— “A Christmas Carol” (rated PG), an animated re-telling of the classic Dickens tale, starring Jim Carrey.
— “Coco Before Chanel” (rated PG-13), a biographical drama starring Audrey Tautou as the designer. French with subtitles.
— “The Fourth Kind” (rated PG-13), an alien-abduction thriller starring Milla Jovovich.
— “Gentlemen Broncos” (rated PG-13), Utah filmmaker Jared Hess’s comedy about feuding science fiction writers.
— “The Men Who Stare at Goats” (rated R), a darkly comic Iraq war tale starring George Clooney and Ewan McGregor.
— “Motherhood” (rated PG-13), a single-motherhood comedy starring Uma Thurman.
— “Ong Bak 2” (rated R), a martial-arts/revenge epic starring Tony Jaa. Thai with subtitles.
Neither “The Box” nor “Motherhood” were pre-screened for local critics. The word of mouth has not been kind about either film.
The unconvincing, dull “Fourth Kind” tries too hard to persuade us that it was based on real-life stories. “Ong Bak 2” doesn’t have nearly enough action to make up for its lousy storytelling and sketchy acting.
And the crude “Broncos” is an immature work from a filmmaker who’s capable of better, smarter things.
Poster art courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
As for the latest version of the much-told, Yule-time tale, its rather unsettling animated imagery is too frightening for young audiences. And there’s nothing new that Carrey can add to “A Christmas Carol” that hasn’t already been seen.
Tautou, a probably Oscar nominee, is the reason to see the formulaic “Coco Before Chanel.” Her turn as the pre-famed Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is among her best big screen work.
Poster art courtesy Overture Films
The week’s best film is “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” though the funniest moments have already been spoiled by the overly revealing trailers and TV spots. George Clooney and Jeff Bridges are clearly having fun, though this offbeat material won’t appeal to everyone.
Which, if any, of these movies fit into your weekend viewing plans?