Darkness Falls. Jonathan Liebesman. Opens Friday, January 24. Reviewed this issue.
Nicholas Nickleby. Douglas McGrath. The same audiences who appreciated The Cider House Rules will enjoy writer/director Douglas McGrath's economical yet reverent adaptation of Dickens. Our young hero Nicholas (Charlie Hunnam, a ditsy blond liability and the movie's only major flaw) is dispatched to teach at the foul and disturbingly named Dotheboys school after his father (Andrew Havill) dies, sending him, his mother (Stella Gonet) and his emotionally challenged sister, Kate (Romola Garai), to London to beg career assistance from his tight-fisted uncle, Ralph Nickleby (Christopher Plummer, terrific). Mayhem ensues, especially when Nicholas battles abusive headmaster Wackford Squeers (Jim Broadbent, wonderfully horrid) for the life of thrashed laddie Smike (Jamie Bell of Billy Elliot). Miraculously, McGrath (who last directed Emma) tidies up Dickens's copious subplots without losing his essence, with composer Rachel Portman and production designer Eve Stewart adding great flourishes. If you're after some family-friendly classic lit at the multiplex, here 'tis. Open Friday, January 24. (GW)
Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation. The guys who first presented those classics of American civilization Beavis and Butt-head and South Park are back with another collection of animated rude-and-crude short films. Titles include Nougat, Pickle's Day Out, The Three Pigs (updated), and vignettes from animator Bill Plympton. Opens Friday, January 24, at the Tivoli for a one-week engagement. NR