Alan Dee’s guide to the new movie releases

BLIMEY, we haven’t even had Christmas yet and it’s New Year’s Eve already...

Well, it is in movieland, where they’ve always had a cavalier disregard for the time of year.

The Hollywood take on Hogmanay in question comes courtesy of veteran director Garry Marshall, who you may recall brought us Valentines Day last year.

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That movie was a portmanteau piece cramming in as many A-list stars as possible in a complicated clutch of storylines all linked to the February 14 theme.

Ashton Kutcher – what’s he been doing recently? – and Jessica Biel survive the cut from the first time round, to be joined by the likes of Zac Efron, Hilary Swank and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Oh, and Robert De Niro. And Jon Bon Jovi. And Michelle Pfeiffer, and Katherine Heigl...the cameo crew is in full swing here.

The team behind the movie say it’s a funny and touching celebration of love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts as the clock counts down to midnight. Yeah, right.

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In common with every New Year bash you’ve ever been to, there’s all sorts of promise and the potential for a great time, but it just fizzles out into a disappointing contemplation of what might have been

The appearance of de Niro in yet another character part and Mr BJ as, guess what, a rock star with a complicated life should have been warning enough.

But if this one also racks up respectable box office, stand by for Thanksgiving Day, Mother’s Day, and even Recycling Bin Day in the future.

> In the same vein, Shrek has been a great success over the years so the popular supporting cast are fair game for a spin-off sortie. No, it’s not Eddie Murphy’s Donkey but Puss In Boots, the macho moggy voiced by Antonio Banderas.

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Salma Hayek, Billy Bob Thornton, and Salma Hayek lend their vocal chords to this prequel which reveals how Puss grew up in an orphanage, dedicated himself to doing good, rubbed shoulders with a cool cat called Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and had to do battle with the evil Humpty Dumpty.

You can see that there wasn’t a huge amount of time spent on the script, and this family fare is definitely on the flat side, despite the 3D format.

> Following in the foolish footsteps of Cheech and Chong and Dumber and Dumber are everyone’s favourite 21st century stoners in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, but the one joke has grown very stale in this third outing.

> There’s also Another Earth, which is handy as we’ve just about worn this one out... This fairly low-key sci fi story was a big hit at the Sundance festival and earned a wider release on the back of that success. The title says it all – a duplicate planet appears in the sky, and causes all sorts of complications.

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Bright young scientist Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) has a glittering future as an astrophysicist ahead of her. But while driving one evening, she’s distracted by a giant, mysterious planet that has just appeared in the sky. This causes a tragic accident, killing most of a family and leaving the father in a coma. While she’s in jail, it is discovered that the planet is a perfect duplicate of the earth. On her release, guilt-stricken Rhoda tracks down her victim, who turns out to be a composer named John Burroughs (William Mapother) - and befriends him without revealing their connection. But ‘Earth 2’ holds out the astonishing possibility of another world where the mistakes we make in this one don’t happen. An unexpected hit and award-winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, ‘Another Earth’ is science fiction at its most intriguing and thought-provoking.

Distributor: Fox

You should see it because: It adds a brilliant ‘what if?’ concept to a deeply moving human drama.

See it if you liked: The Tree Of Life (2011), Melancholia (2011), Perfect Sense (2011)