January isn’t the greatest month for movies
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So there’s no way around it — January is a deeply depressing month.
All the celebrations are over; all the twinkly lights are turned off, but the snow is still here. So is the extra 10 pounds or so, along with Santa’s credit card bills. The Christmas season is like a dream, whereas January is the month where you wake up when reality smacks you across the face with a frozen halibut steak.
With all that reality piling up everywhere, you would think that Hollywood would give us the opportunity to escape into some quality fantasy, but no such luck. All the prestige pictures are squeezed in before Dec. 31 in order to qualify for Oscars, so January is usually the dumping ground for a series of dreadful movies, and this year looks to be no exception. Here are a few examples.
It begins on Jan. 8, with Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant,” the story of a man who is viciously mauled by a grizzly bear and then left for dead. The scenario doesn't seems particularly appealing to me and seems consistent with the kind of fare we can expect from a typical January release.
Those looking for more family friendly dreck can look forward to the Jan. 15 release of “Norm of the North,” the animated story of a polar bear trying to fend off the construction of condominiums in the Arctic. The titular Norm is voiced by Rob Schneider, the star of such groundbreaking classics as “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “The Hot Chick” and “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.” I haven’t seen “Norm of the North,” of course, so maybe it’s great.
That’s the same day, incidentally, that “Ride Along 2” hits theaters. No word on whether it will be as good as “Ride Along 1,” which is fine with me, since, prior to writing this column, I had no idea there was a “Ride Along 1.” Both movies were directed by the same guy who directed the first two awful Fantastic Four movies, and the original “Ride Along” boasts a whopping 18 percent “fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com. My expectations for the sequel are not high.
The following week is when “Dirty Grandpa” arrives in cinemas all over the country, but you probably already knew that. After all, who isn’t counting down the days to see a movie called “Dirty Grandpa” that’s filled with “riotous frat parties, bar fights, and an epic night of karaoke,” according to a news release about the film? Me, that’s who.
This is too depressing for words. Aren’t there any bright spots on the horizon?
Well, yes, possibly. “Kung Fu Panda 3” is scheduled for release on Jan. 29. I loved the first two movies, and the trailers for the third look very promising. Also, Jan. 29 is so close to February it that doesn’t really count.
In addition, those disappointed with the big screen offerings can turn to the small screen for solace. Most TV shows went on hiatus through December and return in full force with new episodes this month. Most notably, the final season of “Downton Abbey” began on Jan. 3. The Brits offer additional solace on screens both big and small, as the Benedict Cumberbatch “Sherlock” Christmas special set in Victorian London, which premiered on television on New Year’s Day, was featured in a limited theatrical release on Jan. 5 and 6. Given the lengthy wait between “Sherlock” seasons, this one-off special looks to be a breath of fresh air.
So, see? It’s not all bad. After all, we’re less than two years away from “Star Wars: Episode VIII.” (Incidentally, that will not be released in January.)
Jim Bennett is a recovering actor, theater producer and politico, and he writes about pop culture and politics at his blog, stallioncornell.com.