my week at the movies: ‘Up in the Air,’ ‘The Lovely Bones,’ ‘The Princess and the Frog,’ ‘Ninja Assassin’

Is there any such thing as too many George Clooney movies in a single year? I don’t think so. I’ve barely come out of my swoon over The Men Who Stare at Goats — and yeah, he’s kinda sexy in Fantastic Mr. Fox too; it’s that voice — and now there’s Up in the Air (opens in the U.S. in limited release on December 4 and wide on December 25; it open in the U.K. on January 15, 2010). Could we arrange to have a new Clooney movie every month? That would awesome.

Screenings do not stop over holiday weeks — and this time of year is the busiest of all, what with all the awards contenders the studios are desperate to get in front of awards voters (I vote in the Online Film Critics Society awards and the EDA Awards given by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists). So back-to-back with Up in the Air on Friday, I’ll see The Lovely Bones (opens in the U.S. in limited release on December 11 and wide on January 15, 2010; it opens in the U.K. on January 29, 2010). Looks like I picked the exact right time to read the book: I’ll be slapping the book shut on my subway ride down to see the movie, most likely (if not sooner).

I still haven’t been forgiven by Disney, so I have not been invited to a press screening of The Princess and the Frog (opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 25, and wide across North America on December 11; opens in the U.K. on February 5, 2010). So I’ll do what I usually do in such cases: I’ll buy a ticket and go see the movie on opening day. (Though I will not be doing this in the case of Disney’s Old Dogs, which makes me want to vomit just watching the TV ads.)

What’s happening with Frog, however, is that when they say “exclusive engagements,” they’re really not kidding this time. The movie will be playing for two weeks or so only at the legendary Ziegfeld in New York, and on the Disney lot in Los Angeles. But you cannot buy a ticket for just the movie: your ticket also includes admission to “The Ultimate Disney Experience” where you can “meet all the Disney princesses,” see props and costumes, and other stuff supposedly suitable for the whole family. You don’t wanna see “The Ultimate Disney Experience,” they’re not gonna force you to. But you’re gonna pay for it anyway.

And here’s the killer. The price tag for all this? $30. And that’s for the cheap tickets, the general admission tickets. If you want “Royal” tickets — which do at least include reserved seating, so you don’t have to fight a gaggle of overexcited munchkins and their overexhausted parents for seats — you are gonna pay $50.

Fifty bucks. For a movie and the chance to say hello to some out-of-work actresses playing dressup, and desperately happy to have some cash in their pockets for the holidays that they will be so supercheery you’ll wonder what drugs they’re on.

As I write this, the 4pm and 7pm shows in New York on Wednesday, opening day, are sold out — remember, at $30 and $50 a pop — and the 10am, 1pm, and 9:30pm are close to it; much of the rest of the holiday weekend is also sold out. The Los Angeles shows are even harder to get tickets for at this point.

I will be there at 10am on Wednesday (I plunked down my money weeks ago). Disney doesn’t wanna talk to me these days? Fine. I showed them: I bought their damn $50 ticket. Let’s see how they like that.

While all the good little critics are attending a press screening of The Princess and the Frog tonight, I will finally learn the secret of Ninja Assassin (opens in the U.S. on November 25 and the U.K. on November 27), as beautifully expressed by Drave in comments on the trailer:

It’s grammatically ambiguous! Is he a ninja who is also an assassin, or is he an assassin who targets ninjas? Inquiring minds want to know!

I’m dying to find out.

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