Early 2012 releases start trickling into second-run theaters, along with a couple of family-oriented refugees from 2012. ---
From late last year comes We Bought a Zoo, Cameron Crowe's adaptation of the true story of a widower trying to restore a remote, run-down animal park. Crowe's distinctive brand of emotionalism is on clear display, but the film rarely feels maudlin, an uneven but generally satisfying redemption tale.
There's little that's redeeming about Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the latest invasion by the CGI rodents. Here, they're stranded on a deserted island -- and with any luck, they'll never come back.
January releases making a quick turnaround to the dollar houses include Mark Wahlberg as a reformed smuggler pulled back into the business in Contraband, and the musical drama Joyful Noise. The former aims for gritty realism but finds only a few original moments between predictable action/suspense beats; the latter is even worse, a bumbling attempt at making Glee for an audience that doesn't actually want to have to watch gay characters. Even a couple of dollars -- plus two hour s-- might be too steep a price to pay.