Hollywood Takes A Look Back For The Holidays NPR's Bob Mondello offers a preview of the holiday presents Hollywood will be unwrapping for audiences before the end of the year.
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Hollywood Takes A Look Back For The Holidays

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Hollywood Takes A Look Back For The Holidays

Hollywood Takes A Look Back For The Holidays

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

After a fall packed with mega minds and teen wizards, Hollywood is gearing up for awards season. That means a rash of Oscar hopefuls at the Multiplex, along with a few more potential blockbusters. We asked Bob Mondello to give us a preview.

BOB MONDELLO: Twenty eight years ago, the movie "Tron" imagined a computer hacker, played by Jeff Bridges, getting digitized by a malicious master control program. One minute, he's sitting at a desk. The next, he's zapped by a laser and trapped in a computer-gamey universe. Computers have made a few advances since 1982, so the folks at Disney decided to reboot "Tron" as "Tron: Legacy."

This time, the hacker's son gets a message.

(Soundbite of movie, "Tron: Legacy")

Mr. BRUCE BOXLEITNER (Actor): (as Alan Bradley) I was paged last night. The page came from your dad's office at the arcade. That number has been disconnected for 20 years.

MONDELLO: The son goes to the arcade...

(Soundbite of movie, "Tron: Legacy")

Mr. GARRETT HEDLUND (Actor): (as Sam Flynn) Hey, dad.

MONDELLO: ...sits at the same desk and a light comes on.

(Soundbite of movie, "Tron: Legacy")

Mr. HEDLUND: (as Sam Flynn) This isn't happening.

MONDELLO: It isn't happening in the same way, anyway. Special effects have matured a bit in the last 28 years and so has Jeff Bridges.

(Soundbite of movie, "Tron: Legacy")

Mr. JEFF BRIDGES (Actor): (as CLU 2) I'm not your father, Sam. But I'm very, very happy to see you.

MONDELLO: "Tron: Legacy" won't be Hollywood's only backward glance this season. The Coen brothers are looking back to a movie from the 1960s, again, with Jeff Bridges, this time cast in a role originally played by John Wayne.

(Soundbite of movie, "True Grit")

Ms. HAILEE STEINFELD (Actor): (as Mattie Ross) They tell me you're a man with true grit.

Mr. JEFF BRIDGES (Actor): (as Marshall Reuben J. Cogburn) What's your name, girl?

Ms. STEINFELD: (as Mattie Ross) My name is Mattie Ross.

MONDELLO: "True Grit" co-stars newcomer Hailee Steinfeld as a character determined to see her father's killer hanged. And while the brothers Coen are exploring the fictional past, actor Colin Firth will explore some real history. In "The King's Speech," he's playing Britain's King George VI, who ascended to throne at a crucial moment...

(Soundbite of movie, "The King's Speech")

Mr. TIMOTHY SPALL (Actor): (as Winston Churchill) War with Germany will come. And we will need a king who we can all stand behind...

MONDELLO: ...at a crucial disadvantage.

(Soundbite of movie, "The King's Speech")

Mr. COLIN FIRTH (Actor): (as King George VI) The nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can't speak.

MONDELLO: He mean with that literally.

(Soundbite of movie, "The King's Speech")

Mr. FIRTH: (as King George VI) I have received the...

MONDELLO: "The King's Speech" is both a sure Oscar contender and the most intriguing English elocution lesson since Professor Higgins met Eliza Doolittle.

Also based on real life is the boxing story "The Fighter," with Mark Wahlberg and the disgraced lobbyist story "Casino Jack," about Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion and who will be released next week, just in time to see himself played onscreen by Kevin Spacey.

Truth straight from the horse's mouth is what Steven Soderbergh gives us in "And Everything Is Going Fine," a portrait of the fast talking, brilliant monologist Spalding Gray, who committed suicide in 2004.

(Soundbite of documentary, "And Everything Is Going Fine")

Mr. SPALDING GRAY (Monologist): (as himself) I was told that I was manic depressive, was on Klonopin and lithium. I didn't think I could do another monologue. Being a dad is fantastic. It's very grounding, and it's got me out of myself because believe me, their needs are bigger than yours. Everyone knows...

MONDELLO: Too much reality? How about a comedy that marks the return of the Focker family?

(Soundbite of movie, "Little Fockers")

Mr. BEN STILLER (Actor): (as Greg Focker) Hey, what's the good word, Grandpa Jack?

Mr. ROBERT DE NIRO (Actor): (as Jack Byrnes) This is Jack Byrnes.

Mr. STILLER (as Greg Focker): Yeah. I know. I just - I could tell from the caller ID.

Mr. DE NIRO: (as Jack Byrnes) Dina and I will be there in approximately 18 seconds.

Ms. BLYTHE DANNER (Actor): (as Dina Byrnes) I'm so excited to see those little Fockers.

MONDELLO: The "Little Fockers" will be joined at the Multiplex by the romantic comedy "How Do You Know," in which Reese Witherspoon must choose between ex-boyfriend Paul Rudd and current boyfriend Owen Wilson, and by a comedy that's a definite change of pace for Jim Carey. In "I Love You, Phillip Morris," he plays a guy who becomes a conman for a perfectly practical reason.

(Soundbite of movie, "I Love You, Phillip Morris")

Mr. JIM CAREY (Actor): (as Steven Russell) Actually, no one ever really talks about this but...

Unidentified Woman: (as character) Cash or charge?

Mr. CAREY: (as Steven Russell) ...being gay is really expensive.

MONDELLO: Imagine a gay "Catch Me if You Can" and you've about got the drift. None of this sounds quite right for kids, does it? But Hollywood's got excursions for them, too - a 3-D trip to see Jellystone National Park's most famous resident, Yogi Bear; a visit to the Bermuda Triangle with Jack Black in "Gulliver's Travels;" and a return with some rather surprised royals to Narnia.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader")

Mr. SIMON PEGG (Actor): (as Reepicheep) Your majesty.

Mr. SKANDAR KYNES (Actor): (as Edmund Pevensie) So if there are no wars to fight, then why are we here?

Mr. BILLE BROWN (Actor): (as Coriakin) You're all about to be tested.

MONDELLO: The "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is the third chapter of the "Narnia Chronicles." None has yet been divided in two for the screen, but give them time.

Meanwhile, the folks who made "The Triplets of Belleville" have discovered fresh enchantment in "The Illusionist," about a magician and a girl who thinks his magic is real.

(Soundbite of music)

MONDELLO: Illusions also figure in a pair of showbiz sagas, "Black Swan," in which Natalie Portman doesn't want any competition as the prima ballerina in "Swan Lake."

(Soundbite of movie, "Black Swan")

Ms. NATALIE PORTMAN (Actor): (as Nina Sayers) What's she doing here?

Ms. MILA KUNIS (Actor): (as Lily) He made me your alternate.

Mr. VINCENT CASSEL (Actor): (as Thomas Leroy) The only person standing in your way is you.

MONDELLO: And "Country Strong" in which Gwyneth Paltrow has some of the same issues as a singer with a drinking problem.

(Soundbite of movie, "Country Strong")

Ms. GWYNETH PALTROW (Actor): (as Kelly Canter) What's going on? That's my song.

Mr. TIM McGRAW (Actor): (as Ed) It wasn't right for you. It was too - I don't know...

Ms. PALTROW: (as Kelly Canter) Too good, too young. What?

MONDELLO: Dramas with less showbiz include "The Company Men," in which Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones try to survive a round of corporate downsizing, and two romances gone sour, starring actor Ryan Gosling. In "Blue Valentine," he's in love with Michelle Williams, who's far more ambitious than he is. And in "All Good Things," he falls for Kirsten Dunst, unfortunately against the wishes of the real-estate dynasty to which he is heir apparent.

(Soundbite of movie, "All Good Things")

Mr. FRANK LANGELLA (Actor): (as Sanford Marks) You're ignoring a very hard fact of life, David.

Mr. RYAN GOSLING (Actor): (as David Marks) What's that?

Mr. LANGELLA: (as Sanford Marks) She's never going to be one of us.

Mr. GOSLING (Actor): (as David Marks) Isn't that great?

MONDELLO: Maybe not for her.

(Soundbite of movie, "All Good Things")

Mr. KIRSTEN DUNST (Actor): (as Katie McCarthy) If anything happens to me, don't let them get away with it.

MONDELLO: "All Good Things" is based on an unsolved real-life disappearance and is the first fiction film from documentary director Andrew Jarecki.

Director Julie Taymor, meanwhile, is flipping back and forth, not between fiction and reality, but between stage and screen. She's' bringing a musical version of "Spiderman" to Broadway even as she brings Shakespeare's "Tempest" to the multiplex.

(Soundbite of movie, "Tempest")

Mr. RUSSELL BRAND (Actor): (as Trinculo) Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.

MONDELLO: Taymor's "Tempest" stars comedian Russell Brand, a lot of stage royalty, and a casting twist for the role of Prospero, the magician who whips up the title storm. This time it's Prospera, and she is played by Helen Mirren.

(Soundbite of movie, "Tempest")

Ms. HELEN MIRREN (Actor): (as Prospera) We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

MONDELLO: Let's round out our little list with "The Tourist," a comic thriller starring Johnny Depp as an innocent abroad.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Tourist")

Mr. JOHNNY DEPP (Actor): (as Frank Tupelo) Those two people over there are watching us.

MONDELLO: And Angelina Jolie, the gal he meets in Venice.

(Soundbite of movie, "The Tourist")

Ms. ANGELINA JOLIE (Actor): (as Elise Clifton-Ward) I think you are right.

Mr. DEPP: (as Frank Tupelo) Really?

Ms. JOLIE: (as Elise Clifton-Ward) No. Frank, come with me.

Unidentified Man #1: (as character) Grab him

Mr. DEPP: (as Frank Tupelo) Hello? I need help. There are two men trying to break down the door.

Unidentified Man #2: (as character) What kind of problem do you have with the door, sir?

Mr. DEPP: (as Frank Tupelo) No, no, no. There are two men with guns trying to break in. I gotta go.

MONDELLO: Me too. Time's up. I'm Bob Mondello.

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