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October lite

By PETER KEOUGH  |  September 17, 2009

But then, as inevitable as the full moon, the horror returns with THE WOLFMAN (February 12), Joe Johnston's remake of the Universal classic with Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins, and a spooky Victorian-age Scottish setting. Speaking of the old queen: Jean-Marc Vallée's THE YOUNG VICTORIA (November 13) tries to do an Elizabeth on the dowdy monarch as she gets all hot and bothered about hunky Prince Albert. Emily Blunt doesn't even need to change her period duds from The Wolfman as she and Rupert Friend play the royal pair. But don't get too comfortable back there in the 19th century, because 2012 (November 13) is just around the corner. Roland Emmerich finds new ways of ending the world in this apocalyptic thriller about a scientist who races against time — as measured by the Mayan calendar — to do something or other. Amanda Peet, John Cusack, and Thandie Newton look on in amazement as Earth goes down in flames and Sarah Palin gets elected president.

Fortunately, however, once again a giant of children's literature comes to the rescue. This time it's Roald Dahl, whose THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX (November 13) is adapted by the most whimsical man in movies, Wes Anderson. A hard-working George Clooney joins Meryl Streep and Bill Murray in this stop-motion version of how three dumb farmers try to catch the vulpine hero of the title. Also animated and light-hearted is PLANET 51 (November 20), an inversion of the alien-invasion scenario in which the endangered good guys are green little men and the extraterrestrial menace is — us. Jorge Blanco and Javier Abad are the filmmakers; Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, and Seann William Scott give voice.

And just to prove that a story doesn't have to be an animated fantasy to be upbeat, there's John Lee Hancock's THE BLIND SIDE (November 20), the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless African-American youth adopted by a rich white couple who becomes an All-American football player. The overweight, pregnant, and sexually abused Harlem teenager in Lee Daniels's based-in-fact PRECIOUS (November 20) has a harder time of it — her woes make the tough luck of 2012 look like a weekend on the Cape. Newcomer Gabourey Sidibe shares the screen with Mo'Nique, Lenny Kravitz, and Mariah Carey.

But the teenage years can also be a time of magic — as in vampirism and lycanthropy — and so it goes in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON (November 20). Chris Weitz adapts the second book in Stephenie Meyer's bestselling trilogy, a sequel to last year's hit Twilight. Once again, heartthrobs Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner star, but only light petting and brief kissing with no tongue will be tolerated.

So here it is past Thanksgiving, and if you're like me, you're looking around for the seasonal sappy comedy starring John Travolta, Robin Williams, and two cutesy kids. Offering no new tricks is OLD DOGS (November 27), in which the pair play business partners who somehow get adopted by seven-year-old twins. I'm not sure what that means, but I have faith in director Walt Becker, who directed the two actors in their 2007 comedy Wild Hogs, after all.

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