You know how everyone’s always wailing and lamenting about how they didn’t quite get the closure they’d hoped for from The Santa Clause and The Santa Clause 2? I mean, I don’t have to tell you. People just don’t ever shut up about it. Ever. Well, gnash your teeth no longer, ye of little patience in matters of faux-St. Nickery: Clause 2 helmer Michael Lembeck has hearkened mightily unto your pleas, and this time it didn’t take eight years. You thought it felt empty and too open-ended; you knew you smelled a Mighty Ducks-esque trilogy — and you were right. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause opens this weekend — just in time to capitalize on the generous good cheer and gift-giving spirit of Halloween, that most wonderful time of the year. Now, if they rush production and you-know-who clears his schedule, maybe they can get cooking on Jingle All the Way 2: Jingle Harder, and Even More of the Way, and have it ready in time for Arbor Day.
Not since Gumby have the States gone so ga-ga for a plasticine protagonist as we seem to’ve for screwloose inventor and Brit import Wallace and his trusty Play-Doh pooch, Gromit. Neither appears in Flushed Away, but the new film from W-and-G parent company Aardman Animations, about a well-heeled rat who’s sucked down a toilet and must learn a new way of life, will certainly feel homey and familiar to fans of Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run, despite the fact that it’s made completely with CGI modeled to look like clay rather than with the real deal (water, of which there is much in Flushed, is tough to animate realistically with clay, goes Aardman’s explanation). Voices by — and pay attention, now — Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian MacKellen, Andy Serkis, and Bill Nighy. If there’s a cast for whom I’ll sit through digitized clay, that’d be it.
Speaking of British invasions, Sacha Baron Cohen, a.k.a. the 6-foot-3, Jewish, make-pretend-anti-Semite thorn in Kazakhstan’s side, unveils his long-anticipated Borat: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (wait ... that’s not right … ) Friday; it’s a little bumpy in places, but packs some enormous laughs, and is certainly worth seeing (review, page 23). Besides, Cohen’ll be giving it another go soon enough — reportedly, Universal’s already ponied up $40.5 million for his next flick, Bruno. (Oh, you betcha, baby.)
And while we’re talking controversy (’cause we were, a little), take a couple of friends to see Jesus Camp, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s up-close observation of Pentecostal Christianity, at the Bijou this weekend, and see what sorts of conversations crop up. (And, while you’re at it, flip to page 21 for an interview with Grady.)
Also at the Bijou, Dame Helen Mirren plays Her Majesty Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears’s The Queen (not to be confused with the Liz I tele-biopic that was recently running on HBO), which attempts an intimate glimpse at the relations between the monarch and Prime Minister Tony Blair in the period following Princess Diana of Wales’s death. Also, it’s billed, at least in part, as a comedy. Shrug.
Welcome to November. Play nice.
Local premiere dates for limited-release films are tentative and can change at the last minute. Please check your local theater listings to confirm showtimes.