Fall Movie Preview Spectacular! Part 4 – The Films of December


This is 40

Release Date: December 21st

Directed by Judd Apatow; Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, and Albert Brooks

Judd Apatow returns with his fourth directorial feature, a semi-sequel to Knocked Up that follows the characters Rudd and Mann played in the earlier film. I am extremely eager to see this one, not just because Apatow is one of the most interesting and insightful comedy writers around, but because returning to Rudd and Mann’s characters seems like an excellent dramatic decision.

The best parts of Knocked Up involve those two, as their mid-life marital crisis was painted in intimate, honest strokes, almost as if Apatow were confessing his own deep-seated fears and flaws through the actors. Expanding their story to a full feature is an excellent idea, and if Apatow can once again tap into that deep reservoir of meaningful, dramatic character work and organic, insightful humor, This is 40 could easily be one of the year’s best.

Jack Reacher

Release Date: December 21st

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie; Starring Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Werner Herzog, and Richard Jenkins

I know fans of Lee Child’s literary thriller series are underwhelmed by Tom Cruise’s casting in Jack Reacher because of the actor’s height – he is one of the shortest men in Hollywood, while Reacher is partially defined by his massive, hulking figure – but I myself am confused for other reasons.

Namely, I do not understand by the attempt to start yet another action franchise with Cruise at the center, especially when the Mission: Impossible series is still going strong. He’s fifty years old now, and while that certainly doesn’t mean he should stop acting, it does mean there are probably younger, equally deserving unknowns who could use a role like this to propel them to stardom (and may have Reacher’s mammoth physical status to boot).

Plus, while Cruise may get people into the theatre, it will be tough to sell him as this character when most viewers have such strong preconceived notions about the kinds of roles he plays, an issue a lesser-known actor would not have faced.

I’m sure Cruise will do an excellent job – he always does – and I think Christopher McQuarrie is an interesting choice for director. I’m even ecstatic about the idea to cast Werner Herzog as the villain. That alone should be worth the price of admission. But starting another Tom Cruise action franchise just strikes me as an odd idea, and I don’t know if the project itself has enough inherent appeal to audiences to really get off the ground.

Not Fade Away

Release Date: December 21st

Directed by David Chase; Starring James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Bella Heathcote, Christopher McDonald, Molly Price, Lisa Lampanelli, Jack Huston, and Brad Garrett  


David Chase, arguably the father of TV’s current golden age thanks to his landmark work writing The Sopranos, makes his feature directorial debut here with the story of a teenager forming a rock n’ roll band in his New Jersey hometown in the 1960s.

Details on the project are still relatively scarce, but Chase’s name alone is enough to pique my interest, and the cast is a compelling mix of well-known character actors and newcomers. The film will debut at this year’s New York Film Festival in October, and early word is it could be a surprise Oscar contender. Either way, I’m eager to see what Chase has in store.

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