If you are anything like most people you like to wrap with Christmas themed television on in the background. This week is chock-filled with things that both adults and children can tune into.
The following are capsule reviews of theatrical movies on network and cable television the week of Dec. 19.
- Wednesday, Dec. 22, (CBS) “12th Annual A Home for the Holidays.“ Along with musical performances, this adoption-themed special includes story segments featuring celebrities who either have their own adoption experiences or are involved with children’s issues. The stories highlight many exceptional American children and families involved in the adoption process.
- Thursday, Dec. 23, (TCM) “The Black Stallion” (1979). Strikingly visualized tale about the magical relationship between a youngster (Kelly Reno) and the horse he finds shipwrecked on a deserted island becomes a beautiful metaphor for the force of youthful ambition taming the raw power of nature. Directed by Carroll Ballard from the Walter Farley story, the drama is the perfect children’s movie — unsentimental, gripping and good stimulation for the young imagination. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was G — general patronage. All ages admitted.
- Thursday, Dec. 23, (ABC) “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000). Less than spectacular adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ classic tale in which Jim Carrey stars as the Grinch, a mean-spirited green creature who disguises himself as Santa Claus, sneaks into the town of Whoville on Christmas Eve and steals all the residents’ presents. Director Ron Howard fanciful rendition is crammed with many colorful, teetering sets and zippy one-liners, but it is essentially a vanity vehicle for its star with a secularized definition of the true meaning of Christmas. Some crass humor including mild sexual innuendo.. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
- Friday, Dec. 24, (Fox) “Are We Done Yet?” (2007). Only fairly amusing sequel to 2005’s “Are We There Yet?” as a couple (Ice Cube and Nia Long), along with her two kids, relocate to the great outdoors and a huge house desperately in need of refurbishing. Director Steve Carr trots out every cliche imaginable and relies too heavily on slapstick humor, but the film does carry a strong affirmation of family and friendship and virtually no objectionable material. Brief innuendo, a comedic physical scuffle and other slapstick violence, scenes of drinking, marital discord and a tense non graphic birth scene. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
- Friday, Dec. 24, (AMC) “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947). Familiar seasonal favorite follows a department store Santa (Edmund Gwenn) as he strives to convince a lonely little girl (Natalie Wood) that he’s the genuine article, despite the objections of her rigidly pragmatic mother (Maureen O’Hara) and a court trial that hinges on the U.S. Post Office. Director George Seaton’s amusing romantic fantasy has its sentimental moments while spreading a reasonable amount of holiday cheer, largely due Gwenn’s charming performance as Kris Kringle. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America
- Saturday, Dec. (HBO) “Tooth Fairy” (2010).Feeble fable in which a disillusioned minor-league hockey player (Dwayne Johnson) who discourages children from dreaming big and denies the existence of the titular sprite is sentenced by the matriarch of Fairyland (Julie Andrews) to spend two weeks as a winged tooth fairy. It’s a secret mission that complicates his relationship with his girlfriend (Ashley Judd) and threatens his macho standing among his teammates (including skateboarding star Ryan Sheckler). Director Michael Lembeck’s mostly family-friendly comedy, which also features Stephen Merchant as Johnson’s officious but good-hearted pixie mentor, never really takes flight. The scenes of unnecessary roughness on the ice and an out-of-place exchange about the onset of puberty preclude endorsement for all. Moderate hockey violence, some mild sexual references and brief scatological humor.. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
- Saturday, Dec. 25, (ABC) “Transformers” (2007).Engineered to appeal to a wide cross section of the public, this lumbering, mindless summertime entertainment — based on the Hasbro action toys from the 1980s — follows a teenager (Shia LaBeouf) embroiled in a battle between two factions of shape-shifting alien robots, with the fate of mankind and the universe hanging in the balance. Director Michael Bay has evidently benefited from working with executive producer Steven Spielberg, because humanistic themes offset Bay’s propensity to fetishize weaponry and explosions, but not the movie’s large amount of gratuitous material inappropriate for children and teens. Numerous sexual references, some crude language, a vulgar gesture, disrespectful racial jokes, drug references and some moderately violent action sequences. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
- Saturday, Dec. 25 (Cinemax) “Up in the Air” (2009). Polished but morally ambivalent comic drama about an emotionally isolated, though contented, single businessman (George Clooney) who spends his life in chain hotels and airports as he travels from city to city firing employees on behalf of downsizing corporate clients. That is, until his rootless lifestyle is threatened by a tech-savvy new colleague (Anna Kendrick), who wants their company to terminate workers via the Internet, and by his deepening feelings for a fellow executive wanderer (Vera Farmiga) with whom he initiated a casual romp. Director and co-writer Jason Reitman’s screen version of Walter Kirn’s novel is initially engaging and adroitly acted throughout. But the script winks at commitment-free encounters, while what appear at first to be the life-altering events of the plot turn out to be mere incidents with little spiritual impact. The Motion Picture Association of America rating was R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.