Get off the couch: Paul’s picks for the holidays

Winter break is almost here and for college students that means plenty of free time. December also marks a busy stretch at the theaters. With that in mind, the Northern Light’s resident movie reviewer, Paul Jones, has put together some recommendations of movies to check out this season. So, deck the halls, be merry and chow down on popcorn during the holidays.

Dec. 17

“Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events”

A tragic fire kills the Baudelaire parents, turning their three children into the Baudelaire orphans. Violet (the inventor), Klaus (the researcher), and Sunny (the biter), are sent to live with their distant relative Olaf, who turns out to be an evil, dangerous and rude villain.

I’ve been a huge fan of this series of exceedingly dark children’s books, and have high expectations for the upcoming film. I’m somewhat skeptical that Hollywood producers will allow this movie to be as dark as the books are. I also question whether goofy actor Jim Carrey will make the villain, Count Olaf, as creepy and frightening as he is intended to be. Nevertheless, Jude Law voicing the tortured author Lemony Snicket is a perfect choice, and the production design for the film is beautiful and appropriate to the source material.

“Spanglish”

This chick flick chronicles the trials and tribulations of a family dealing with mother-daughter problems, job-loss problems, relationship issues and Spanish-speaking housekeeper issues. Tea Leoni and Adam Sandler star as the couple at the heart of the movie.

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The previews for this one charmed me, I must say. The dialogue looks like it will be down to earth and will oscillate between touching and funny. It’s also interesting to watch Adam Sandler do serious stuff. Also, the Spanish-speaking housekeeper is totally hot. Sort of like a non-scrawny Penelope Cruz.

Dec. 24

“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”

Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, an underwater explorer with a quirky crew. The movie chronicles his relationship with his estranged son (Owen Wilson).

This is the latest film from Wes Anderson, which means that you should just go see it as soon as it comes out, no questions asked. Anderson is the genius behind “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore,” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.” So far, he has been able to reuse the same themes in extremely different and fascinating ways, and has yet to produce a dud. In addition to his trademark comedy and touching humanity, this one features colorful sea creatures. Just go. Bill Murray should be reason enough.

“The Flight of the Phoenix”

A group of people crash in a desert and must work together to build a new plane and fly out. This stands a pretty good chance of being bad, but I just really like Dennis Quaid, who plays the lead role. Plus, I’m a sucker for desert adventures.

“Fat Albert”

This movie also will probably be bad. However, in an interesting twist, the plot actually features Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids emerging from a TV into the real world, which is an interesting angle for a movie based on a cartoon. Plus, Bill Cosby has been involved, so it could still be good.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”

The long awaited screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s insanely popular musical. It’s always been my opinion that the story of this musical is best suited to the screen, where its gothic backdrop and action-heavy third act could be best presented. It’s a fine musical, if you’re into that sort of thing, and should translate fairly well. I’m not sure about that guy who plays the phantom, though. He seems a little young, a little too pretty, and his voice doesn’t seem rich enough.