Holiday Movie Preview

With over 30 scheduled films this holiday season, Hollywood is trying to make up for what was a poor summer in terms of film quality. This year’s films range from towering mountains to desolate islands, from slapstick comedy to serious dramas. While some have the potential to be great films, others are probably going to be clear misses. Besides the usual blockbusters, December will be filled with Hollywood and independent films alike contending for Oscars. Here is a look at some of the more anticipated films in store for this season:

Vertical Limit

Dec. 8

Starring: Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney, Scott Glenn, Izabella Scorupco, Temuera Morrison and Stuart Wilson.

A climber, Peter Garrett (O’Donnell), must make a treacherous climb up K2, the world’s second highest peak, in order to save his sister, who is stranded on the mountain. Garrett must confront his personal problems and his surroundings before it is too late.

Outlook: Unfortunately, this film has all the looks and feelings of “”Cliffhanger.”” The plot seems that of a typical action/disaster film, one that does not try too hard to get the brain working and that is uninspired. O’Donnell’s only experience in major action films so far consists of the “”Batman”” series, so he is probably not a good fit for the role of an extreme mountain climber.

The Emperor’s New Groove

Dec. 15

Starring: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton.

This animated film takes place in a mythical mountain kingdom where a young, arrogant emperor named Kuzco (voiced by Spade) is transformed into a llama by one of his advisers. Kuzco’s only hope of returning home lies with a good-natured peasant named Pacha. Kuzco begins the adventure back to his kingdom while realizing the errors of his previous ways of life.

Outlook: With a low budget, “”The Emperor’s New Groove”” is more of a second-rate project than the usual quality films made by Disney’s animators. With both a weak script and lack of major star power, this film will do only somewhat well, and only because the name Disney is attached to the project. The movie will only appeal to those obsessed with Disney films.

Dude, Where’s My Car?

Dec. 15

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Garner, Marla Sokoloff and Kristy Swanson.

When two dudes wake up from a party, they find that they have forgotten what happened the previous night. All they know is that they are missing their car and that their girlfriends are mad at them for trashing a house and forgetting an anniversary. Now it is up to them to make up with the girls and to find their car.

Outlook: Dude, where’s the brain of whoever made this film? Some films are made to be instant classics; this is not one of them. The idea of teen-in-trouble, teen-fixes-problem is not new and has run out of steam. This film is another cheap teen flick made only in the pursuit of not a car, but money.

The Family Man

Dec. 15

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Amber Valletta and Harve Presnell.

Living in New York City, Jack Campbell (Cage) is a man who lives the fast life. This changes one morning when he wakes up to find himself with Kate (Leoni), a woman he never married, and with two kids he never fathered. This alternate life is one that Campbell had the opportunity to begin when he was in college, but rejected it by rejecting Kate. Campbell must make the difficult task of adjusting to his new role as a loving husband and father.

Outlook: “”The Family Man”” is shaping out to be a modern “”It’s A Wonderful Life”” that adds to the endless amount of holiday films. With a good script, this film could be one of the better films this holiday season. The “”what if”” plot makes this film a pleasant, sentimental experience that will appeal to most but may be too sappy for some.

Miss Congeniality

Dec. 22

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine and William Shatner.

An unpolished and geeky FBI agent, Gracie Hart (Bullock), must change not only her looks but also her mannerisms for an undercover assignment as a beauty pageant contestant in order to stop a terrorist attack. Hart must not only endure the torturous process of a complete makeover, but also ensure safety at the beauty pageant.

Outlook: This film looks like a decent comedy, with Bullock playing the role of an ugly ducking that becomes a beautiful woman. With the mockery of pageants as a focus and Bullock as a star, this movie is likely to bring out some laughs from what is an otherwise ordinary script.

Cast Away

Dec. 22

Starring: Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt.

Chuck Noland (Hanks) is a man who is always obsessed with the time and his job as a FedEx engineer.

When Noland becomes stranded on a remote island, he must deal with the harsh environment in order to survive. The film deals with Noland’s attempt to overcome his physical and psychological ordeals in order to survive and live off the uninhabited island.

Outlook: This film is one of the most anticipated films this holiday season. The teaming of “”Forrest Gump”” director Robert Zemeckis and Hanks will result in a film that is powerfully moving. Hanks, who has shown he has box office might, has not only the ability but also the drive to play a man isolated from all. The film is not just a standard action flick; it’s one that challenges the mind and the capability of the soul.

What Women Want

Dec. 15

Starring: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Lauren Holly and Bette Midler.

Nick Marshall (Gibson) gets a new look at life when he has the ability to read the minds of women. This ability proves to be overwhelming for Marshall as he is saturated by the thoughts of what every woman desires. Marshall uses the power to try to outsmart his boss Darcy McGuire (Hunt), but in the process, falls in love and truly understands what all women want.

Outlook: This movie is probably the date flick of the season. With so many stars involved, the movie has the potential to be a strong pull at the box office. The clever idea of the film will make it a good one to watch, but probably not enough to make it a standout.