Ho Ho Ho!!

Holiday movie preview
The decorations are up in the malls. The flyers are arriving in the newspapers. All we need now is the first appearance of a Canadian Tire Scrooge commercial and it’s official: The holiday season is upon us. Ho-frickin’-ho-ho.
If there’s an upside to only 46 shopping days remaining ’til Christmas, it’s that a new glut of movies is hitting theatres between now and the end of the year. This is usually the period when studios slip their Oscar hopefuls into the release schedule, while balancing them out with the odd bit of blockbustery fluff.
But since we haven’t actually seen most of these flicks yet, we have to rely on someone with decades of holiday movie experience (not to mention slightly creepy omniscient powers) to help us pick 10 of the most interesting-looking movies of the season, and separate the naughty from the nice.
Take it away, Santa Claus.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: The untold story of the origins of the CIA, with Matt Damon as an up-and-coming agent under the tutelage of a cagey vet (Robert De Niro, who also directs.) Angelina Jolie plays Damon’s wifey.
SANTA SAYS: “Ho ho ho! Bobby De Niro, you say? Why, me and Mrs. Claus would see anything with that wonderful young man in it. And Angelina Jolie warms my North Pole! My South Pole, too!”
Naughty or Nice? Nice
9: HAPPY FEET (Nov. 17)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Computer-animated penguins, and lots of them. They sing! They dance! They sound just like Elijah Wood, Nicole Kidman and Robin Williams!
SANTA SAYS: “Why, we don’t see any penguins up around my workshop, being as they are indigenous to the Antarctic! Ho ho ho! You didn’t know Santa knew a big word like indigenous, did you? That’s what happens when you spend your 364 days off every year sitting on the couch watching Discovery Channel on satellite!”
Naughty or Nice? Nice
8: ROCKY BALBOA (Dec. 22)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: The sixth instalment in the Rocky series sees the Italian Stallion coming out of retirement to fight the reviled boxer Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), after a computer simulation shows Balboa in his prime could have beat the young bruiser.
SANTA SAYS: “Oh dear, I’m afraid young Sylvester has wasted all the nice gifts I’ve given him over the years. Such a greedy little boy, and now he expects to be given another career comeback? No, I’m afraid not. And I still don’t like that ex-wife of his, the tall one who dates the strange man with the clock around his neck. Tut-tut.”
Naughty or Nice? Naughty
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A South African mercenary (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a Mende fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) join forces to search for a legendary lost diamond against the backdrop of Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war. Jennifer Connelly stars as DiCaprio’s love interest.
SANTA SAYS: “My my, this sounds like a very serious story, doesn’t it? But rest assured Santa never trades in conflict diamonds when he gives good little girls necklaces full of bling! Ho ho ho!”
Naughty or Nice? Nice
6: ERAGON (Dec. 15)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Based on the novel by 15-year-old Christopher Paolini, this is a swords-and-sorcery fantasy about a boy who discovers his heritage as a dragon rider and strives to avenge the death of his uncle. Critics have called the books derivative of familiar fare like Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars.
SANTA SAYS: “A fantasy movie for the whole family, and you know what that means — merchandising! Santa loves merchandising, because it means I can give kids cheap plastic action figures made in Taiwan and save on local labour costs! Ho ho ho!”
Naughty or Nice? Naughty
5: WE ARE MARSHALL (Dec. 22)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A football coach (Josh Lucas) tries to rebuild his team and heal his town after a plane crash claims the lives of 37 players and eight coaches. Based on the true story of the 1970 tragedy that devastated the Marshall University football team.
SANTA SAYS: “Now now, why would anyone want to watch such a sad story so close to Christmas? Christmas isn’t about sacrifice and death and rebirth! It’s about presents! Ho ho ho!”
Naughty or Nice? Naughty
4: THE FOUNTAIN (Nov. 22)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A cancer scientist (Hugh Jackman) tries to save his dying wife (Rachel Weisz) in a story that also connects to events 500 years in the past and 500 years in the future, revolving around a tree that gives eternal life to those who eat its bark. Directed by Requiem For A Dream’s Darren Aronofsky.
SANTA SAYS: “Eating bark? Why, I usually give Blitzen a good crack with the whip when I catch him chewing on a Christmas tree while I’m trying to put presents underneath it. This sounds like a lot of claptrap and nonsense.”
Naughty or Nice? Naughty
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: Jack Black and Kyle Gass — together known as Tenacious D — look for a magical pick that will make them rock like a hurricane, or at least a very strong gale.
SANTA SAYS: “Jack Black is always on my good boy list! Though to be perfectly frank this movie doesn’t look to be as funny as he clearly thinks it is. Nacho Libre only buys you so much goodwill, my roly-poly friend! Ho ho ho!”
Naughty or Nice? Naughty
2: DEJA VU (Nov. 22)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A federal agent (Denzel Washington) uses top secret technology to travel back in time in a bid to prevent a ferry bombing in New Orleans. In the process, he falls in love with one of the potential victims.
SANTA SAYS: “Dear, oh dear, I certainly did enjoy that Tony Scott movie with that pleasant Mr. Washington fellow where the little girl got kidnapped. Watching his movies is like drinking five cups of coffee in a row, and Santa needs his pep!”
Naughty or Nice? Nice
1: APOCALYPTO (Dec. 8)
WHAT IT’S ABOUT: A historical myth set 600 years ago, on the cusp of the decline of the Maya civilization. It’s director Mel Gibson’s follow-up to The Passion Of The Christ, with all dialogue spoken in the Yucatec Maya tongue and subtitled in English.
SANTA SAYS: “Santa had to buy an extra big sleigh this year to carry all the coal for Mel Gibson’s stocking! But even I can admit that this movie looks very intriguing. At least they won’t be beating up that nice Jesus man in this one! Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!”
Naughty or Nice? Nice.