‘Jedi’ and beyond - a quick guide to holiday movies

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Special to the Press

While the new “Star Wars” will be the star of 2017’s holiday season, there are plenty of other flicks to check out when seats for “The Last Jedi” are sold out. Here’s a quick guide of what to see and who should see it.

Now playing


In Disney/Pixar’s latest animated gem, an aspiring musician finds himself on a magical journey rooted in the customs of the Mexican holiday of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Audience: Pixar plays well with all generations, though parents should note its PG rating and its connections to death and the afterlife.

“The Star”

A star-studded (wink) voice cast (including Oprah!) headline this animated adventure about a donkey and his heroics during the first Christmas.

Audience: All ages, but particularly parents who want their kids to see something related to Christmas that isn’t about toys and Santa Claus.


Julia Roberts stars in this adaptation of the bestselling book about a boy born with facial differences who attends public school for the first time.

Audience: The PG rating makes it friendly to families, and its messages of inclusion and compassion are perfect for this time of year. Also, eggheads who love comparing books to movies will no doubt have a few opinions about this one.

“Justice League”

Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and (probably) Superman fight CGI monsters in the highly-anticipated-but-supremely-tinkered-with superhero adventure.

Audience: People who enjoyed this year’s “Wonder Woman” enough to forgive last year’s “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Opening Dec. 8

“Just Getting Started”

Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones play rivals on the golf course who must work together to survive a mob hit. Think “The Bucket List” reimagined as an action-comedy.

Audience: Your dad is all over this one.

Opening Dec. 15

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker looks to have a beefier part in this second installment of the new “Star Wars” trilogy. Fans will also say goodbye to Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Fisher died earlier this year after she wrapped production on the film.

Audience: Who won’t be seeing it?


This Spain-set animated adventure follows a kind-hearted bull who is mistaken for a dangerous beast and taken away from his family. John Cena voices the title character.

Audience: Kids and parents who somehow missed one of the thousand showings for “The Last Jedi.”

Opening Dec. 20

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black headline this update of the Robin Williams 90s adventure about a jungle-themed board game brought to real life. In the new film, four teenagers enter a videogame version of “Jumanji,” where The Rock, etc. portray the in-game avatars.

Audience: The PG-13 rating means it’s a little edgier than the original movie, but older kids and fans of the cast will hope for some harmless popcorn entertainment.

Opening Dec. 22


Matt Damon plays a man who discovers the path to a better life - he can literally shrink himself. A social satire from Alexander Payne, the filmmaker behind acclaimed films like “Sideways,” “The Descendants” and “About Schmidt.”

Audience: Those looking for something different - way, way different. The talent in front of and behind the camera also makes it a likely Oscar contender.

“Father Figures”

Road trip comedy about two brothers (Owen Wilson and Ed Helms) hoping to figure out the identity of their father out of three potential candidates (J.K. Simmons, Christopher Walken and Terry Bradshaw).

Audience: Fans of broad comedy looking for “Wedding Crashers” era Owen Wilson and “Hangover” era Ed Helms.

“Pitch Perfect 3”

The Bellas reunite for an overseas USO tour competition. Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and all the others return for more acapella shenanigans.

Audience: Fans of the franchise, obviously, particularly those who love hearing dozens of “aca-”word puns.

Opening Dec. 25

“The Greatest Showman”

A musical about the traveling circus showman P.T. Barnum, starring Hugh Jackman, with Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya.

Audience: Those in need of a big screen musical fix. Also for those who still can’t afford tickets to “Hamilton.”

Expanding throughout December

“Darkest Hour”

Gary Oldman stars in this biopic about Winston Churchill during his early days as Prime Minister during World War II.

Audience: For those who have already watched everything on the History Channel about Churchill..

“The Disaster Artist”

James Franco stars as Tommy Wiseau, the infamous “director” of “The Room,” one of the best worst movies ever committed to film.

Audience: Everyone. I’ve met the real Tommy Wiseau, and the man is an alien in all the best ways. This movie is the next best thing to hanging out with the real guy.

“The Shape of Water”

Already a film festival favorite, this fantasy/horror fairy tale from director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) follows a mute woman who bonds with an imprisoned amphibious humanoid.

Audience: Definitely not for kids, but for anyone looking for del Toro’s distinct creatures and imagery.

“I, Tonya”

Take a journey back to the 1994 National Figure Skating Championship where Nancy Kerrigan had a little trouble with Tonya Harding.

Audience: Ice skating junkies, obviously.

Expanding in early January

“The Post”

Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep star as journalists uncovering the Pentagon Papers in this historical drama from Steven Spielberg.

Audience: Award-season addicts, as well as anyone who needs a reminder that not all journalists are #fakenews.

“Molly’s Game”

Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Social Network”) writes and directs this adaptation of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), who ran an underground poker empire.

Audience: Those who have watched the entire run of “The West Wing” too many times already (me).

“Phantom Thread”

Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood”) writes and directs this drama about a 1950s-era London dressmaker. Reported to be the final acting performance of Daniel Day-Lewis.

Audience: Those who have run out of episodes of “Project Runway” on Hulu (me).

Release dates subject to change.

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