This year’s Oscar season looks as crowded as it always is, even if the slate of movies that are out within all the December glut look to be more family oriented than usual. Is there a push to possibly get more families into the theater around the holidays than going with the heavy dramas that Hollywood sometimes chooses to place there? In some cases, they may have some intention of going for Oscar, even if the words “family-oriented” might be considered debatable in at least one instance.
It seems that it’s taken far too long for an American movie adaptation of the U.K.’s Paddington Bear character to finally arrive. Already announced a couple of years ago, there seemed to be a lot of careful strategy arranged on when it should be released. Now it’s going to be right during the holiday season when the busy Oscar season means at least half of those movies being canceled out. Nonetheless, “Paddington” might be helped along with the recent online meme of “Creepy Paddington” where the now live-action bear was placed into famous horror movie scenes.
If memes help, it could also mean trouble if kids don’t take to Paddington being warm, adorable, and (most importantly) funny. Those who grew up reading the books know how important that’s going to be, which might be helped along with someone other than Colin Firth doing Paddington’s voice.
While remakes of classics with entirely African-American casts have usually worked well in the past, you have to wonder how a more urban “Annie” is going to go over. This one has Quvenzhane Wallis from “Beasts of the Southern Wild” playing the new Annie, and perhaps couldn’t have been a better choice. And with Jamie Foxx playing a new Daddy Warbucks (Benjamin Stacks here), it seems that nothing could go wrong.
The trouble may be in the entire generation of people who grew up with “Annie: The Musical” from Broadway lore and the 1982 film. Despite a similar situation working well with “The Wiz” in the 1970s, the aforementioned production had all-new songs to give it its own identity away from “The Wizard of Oz.” This “Annie” seems to be updating the existing musical score with a more Hip-Hop sound. However, it’s also using some new songs that really should have been the main focus.
This one is going to be worth watching to see how well it goes over with “Annie” purists and those craving more family musical films.
“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”
Using a title that sounds like an old “Choose Your Own Adventure” book from 30 years ago, this is another wild card family film in December that has potential to be a smash or a bust. It’s already a miracle that Ben Stiller was able to make the “Night at the Museum” franchise so much fun and interesting, yet it’s hard to deny otherwise. The last one taking place in the Smithsonian might have been the best in the franchise so far.
There’s only so much you can do with this idea, though, before it gets repetitive. It helps that it has a who’s who of cameos again in portraying various historical figures. Also, for those who were fans of Mickey Rooney, you can see his last performance on screen with Dick Van Dyke playing security guards Gus and Cecil, respectively.
“Into the Woods”
You can see parents taking their kids to see this adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical with an assumption of being family friendly. Considering it’s about legendary Grimm fairy tale characters, parents who’ve never seen the Broadway musical may be surprised at how much it’s intended for adults rather than kids. Hopefully Disney will make this clear when they do more marketing for it around the holidays. Considering it’s probably going for some Oscar nominations, it could be a rare move for what’s considered a family film finally getting some more Oscar love.
It at least has a moving message about parents protecting their children, which will probably resonate widely in a time when school shootings are happening nearly every day in America. In that regard, it could be a film that families would all relate to, despite being part of the perpetual evolution of all musicals being very adult.