Notes From the Back Row 

Stockings full of cinematic coal


Christmas movie season is in full swing and the first disappointing gift of the holidays is Disney's Tron: Legacy. Yes, it looks cool, really cool, but the script tries so hard to set up a new franchise for the future that it doesn't bother delivering a solid movie this time around.

Sam Flynn is the orphan son of gaming and computer wizard Kevin Flynn (who got sucked into a computer world back in the day). Now Sam must also get sucked in so he can chase a super-special disc around "The Grid" before his dad's evil alter ego unleashes an evil army on the real world, or something like that. There is some father/son reconciliation. Jeff Bridges plays Kevin Flynn as an Obi-Wan Lebowski type, and some hot chicks in tight suits keep things rolling along, but the hero's quest story, the cinematic themes and characters are pretty lackluster, to say the least.

The visuals might save this film though. The updated Grid world is slick and an IMAX 3D screening of Tron: Legacy will probably blow your mind. Unfortunately, 3D technology hasn't arrived in Whistler yet so the story, logic and character flaws (plus the Star Wars rip offs) will only be that much more apparent.

Speaking of disappointing, The Tourist had a rough weekend, financially and critically, but it still managed three Golden Globe nominations and, let's be honest, you could put out two hours of Angelina sitting on the toilet and I'd recommend it. The Tourist is more exciting than that, though.

The Fighter is also pretty exciting because although it's mostly a melodrama it's also a boxing movie and as such has a few guys-beating-the-crap-out-of-each-other sequences to go with some decent acting. Marky Mark Wahlberg stars as Micky Ward, the aging underdog from Boston with a lot of fight left in him and Christian Bale as his cracked out, half-brother trainer who coulda been a contender and now leads Micky's family of whackos. Amy Adams rounds it out as the tough-talking barmaid/love interest with, you guessed it, a heart of gold.

Based on true events, The Fighter is still pretty formulaic but it does have lots of shots of chicks' legs and Christian Bale really goes for it, throwing his superior acting all over the place. Excessive? Perhaps. Entertaining? You bet.

Yogi Bear , on the other hand, is straight-up garbage. Dan Aykroyd voices Yogi, Justin Timberlake does Boo Boo (we'll see what that does to his The Social Network award season campaign - my bet is he wins nothing) and Nathan Corddry (TV's The Pacific ) and Anna Faris ( House Bunny) are in there too. I guess everyone has bills to pay these days.

Village 8 shows it in 2D but regardless Yogi Bear looks absolutely terrible. I'd rather get mauled by a grizzly, raped by a panda and then shat on by a fish-eating polar bear than sit through this one.

And it wouldn't be the Holidays without a schmaltzy romantic comedy that dudes will go see with their girlfriends as an excuse to get away from her relatives. This year it's How Do You Know, a two-hour, PG-13 snooze fest from James L. Brooks ( As Good as it Gets) . Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Jack Nicholson and Owen Wilson star, but the problem is Brooks. Sure, the guy produced Say Anything but that was over 20 years ago. Now, at age 70, he's just way too old to understand romance, pacing, or comedy in this crazy new millennium. As such, How do you Know is slow and painful.

Christmas is not coming early this year, until the Coen Bros' True Grit opens next week.


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