— Dozens of movies are heading to theaters this fall. Some will contend for Oscars, and feature big stars and big budgets. Others are campy and silly and cost about as much money as George Clooney can regularly find in his couch cushions. Our movies editor and four contributing writers each reveal which serious film and which guilty pleasure they're most excited about.
Gael’s guilty pleasure:
Why is “Real Steel” (Oct. 7) not called “Rock Em Sock Em Robots: The Movie”? Come on! In this flick, enormous robots knock each other’s blocks off in boxing rings. Hugh Jackman plays a washed-up boxer who lost his job when the ‘bots took over and is working with his son to build a championship robot. As they used to say in “Battlebots,” which I loved so much I once attended in person, it’s robot fightin’ time! —Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
Gael’s serious pick:
I guess “The Muppets” could also be a guilty pleasure pick, except that I’m not ashamed or guilty to say I love those furry little guys. They’re back in their first movie in 12 years, in which Kermit must get the band back together to fight a greedy oilman who wants to destroy the Muppets’ theater. And the places they’ve gone! Miss Piggy is plus-size fashion editor at Vogue, Animal is in a clinic for anger management, Fozzie Bear is working Vegas. And “Mah Na Mah Na” is listed on the soundtrack. Can’t go wrong. —G.F.C.
Dave’s guilty pleasure:
You can only watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” so many times before you start fantasizing about alternate plotlines that involve irresponsible drug use, brazen raunchy sex, stupid-smart punch lines and accidental Santa-cide. So thank Christmas for Harold, Kumar and their gleeful wallow in chaotic amorality titled “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.” It’ll be the gift you get even if you’ve been bad all year. —Dave White
Dave’s serious pick:
Fanboy-made-good director Kevin Smith’s brand of low-brow social satire is more often considered a guilty pleasure. And the ultimate quality of his departure into horror with “Red State,” a politically-minded blood feast about an extreme right-wing religious cult, seems less important than the brashly independent, anti-Hollywood road he’s taken to get it to the public. Love him or hate him, this time his work is stirring the pot instead of just smoking it. —D.W.
Craig’s guilty pleasure:
Your reaction to hearing about “Johnny English Reborn” (Oct. 28) is probably something like “I didn’t know Johnny English died.” If I’m right about that, or if you made some other silly comment instead, you’ll join me in looking forward to Rowan Atkinson reprising his role as the bumbling British secret agent who somehow finds himself saving us all from annihilation. Who doesn’t love a good spy parody? —Craig Berman
Craig’s serious pick:
Is anyone surprised that there’s so much skepticism about “Moneyball”? (Sept 23)? After all, its subject is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, and his approach to building a roster on a budget that proved controversial and effective in equal measures. A sports film about management may not seem like a winner, but the star power behind this would be the envy of A’s GM Billy Beane. With Brad Pitt starring, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman in supporting roles, and Aaron Sorkin writing the script, this is poised to make a September run to the top of the standings. —C.B.
Alonso's guilty pleasure:
I’ve been hearing great things about the horror-comedy “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” since it premiered in the midnight-movie section of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, so I’m super-pumped to see Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk as a pair of good-ol’-boys forced to defend themselves from a bunch of collegiate preppies who assume our beer-drinking heroes are redneck serial killers. —Alonso Duralde
Alonso's serious pick:
Can’t wait to see “The Skin I Live In,” since a new Pedro Almodóvar movie is always cause for excitement. (I’d be first in line to see “Smurfs 2” if he were directing.) This new thriller reunites the Spanish director with the star he discovered, Antonio Banderas, in a movie that — based on the trailer — looks creepy and terrifying enough to make the skin I live in start crawling. Banderas plays a plastic surgeon who tests out a new experimental skin prototype on a most unwilling subject, and things no doubt get even weirder from there. —A.D.
Mark's guilty pleasure:
Last year, I loved "Piranha 3D" for embracing its own trashiness. It was funny and gory and surprisingly smart, and I'm still thinking about what happened to Jerry O'Connell's — um — business. Since the sequel's called "Piranha 3DD" (Nov. 23), we can assume it's as gleefully sick as the original, and even better, Christopher Lloyd is reprising his role as a demented marine biologist. If he turns out to be the mastermind behind a piranha-driven conspiracy, then this will be the best movie of 2011. —Mark Blankenship
Mark's serious pick:
I'll see a movie with even a glimmer of Oscar potential, so you'd better believe I'll see "Carnage" (Nov 18). Roman Polanski is directing his own adaptation of Yasmina Reza's spectacular play "God of Carnage," about two sets of parents trying to have a civilized meeting after their sons have a schoolyard fight. That gets my Oscar senses tingling, and I haven't even gotten to the cast: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly. I'm ready for Capital-A Acting as their scrappy impulses obliterate their proper manners. —M.B.