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P.T. BARNUM WOULD BE PROUD

  

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Dec. 22, 2017

That is, P.T. Barnum would be proud of the hoopla surrounding Christmas-movie franchises such as those opening over Christmas, as well as new one-off flicks that have the potential to become franchises, and a few that are clearly standalone pictures.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 20

“The Greatest Showman” (PG). Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum’s in this fictionalized musical biography that focuses largely on his development of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, and how he recruited a wide variety of unusual characters to participate. With Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.

“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (PG-13). This fantasy-comedy follows four teenagers who find an old video game and hook it up to play, choosing characters for themselves. But once they turn it on, they find themselves sucked into the game, and now they exist inside the avatars they have chosen, roles that are completely the opposite of their real-life bodies and characters. With Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan.

FRIDAY, DEC. 22

“Darkest Hour” (PG-13). Gary Oldman stars as Winston Churchill in this true story of the early days of World War II as Hitler was closing in on Great Britain and Churchill was trying to convince the government that appeasement would never work with the Nazis and all-out war was inevitable. With Kristin Scott Thomas, Ben Mendelsohn and Lily James.

  

“Downsizing” (R). Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig are a married couple that buys into an experimental solution to overpopulation in this fantasy-comedy. Norwegian scientists discover a way to shrink humans to five inches in height, an irreversible procedure that allows them to have more with less, thus expanding the earth’s resources. With Hong Chau and Jason Sudeikis, and unbilled cameos by Harrison Ford, Neil Patrick Harris and Laura Dern. Co-written and directed by Alexander Payne (“Sideways,” “Nebraska”).

“Pitch Perfect 3” (PG-13). In this third and allegedly final entry in the musical-comedy franchise, the Bellas discover that their style of a cappella music is passé, but they decide to nonetheless reunite for an overseas USO tour. With Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, John Lithgow, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins.

“Father Figures” (R). Raunchy comedy about a pair of fraternal twin brothers (Owen Wilson, Ed Helms) have believed all their lives that their father died when they were young, but when their eccentric mother (Glenn Close) finally tells them he’s alive, but that she slept with so many rich and famous men she doesn’t know who it is, they seek out the three most likely candidates (J.K. Simmons, Terry Bradshaw, Christopher Walken).

  

“Thelma” (Not Rated, in Norwegian with English subtitles). In this supernatural thriller, a shy first-year college student with a strict religious background develops romantic feelings for another girl, which triggers seizures, delusions and, ultimately, destructive telekinetic powers.

MONDAY, DEC. 25

“Molly’s Game” (R). Renowned screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“A Few Good Men,” “The Social Network,” “The West Wing”) makes his directing debut with this true story of Olympic-class skier Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), who hosted movie stars, sports figures, titans of industry and … although she didn’t know it at the time … the Russian mob for a high stakes, underground poker game, until she was brought down by the FBI. Based on Bloom’s memoir, the film unfolds as she tells her story to her lawyer (Idris Elba). With Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd, Michael Cera and Graham Greene.

“All the Money in the World” (R). This true crime thriller directed by Ridley Scott (“Alien,” “Thelma & Louise”) tells the story of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) being kidnapped in 1973 and his ultra-wealthy grandfather J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer) refusing to pay the ransom. The lad’s mother (Michelle Williams), who is divorced from J. Paul Getty’s son, begs him to pay, and when he declines she recruits Getty’s business manager, a former CIA operative (Mark Wahlberg), to convince him otherwise. With Timothy Hutton.