New films to see this week: 'The Whale,' Netflix's 'Pinocchio' – USA TODAY

Fun fact: You don’t have to ask Santa for great movies because they’re here, y’all.
This weekend, Brendan Fraser hits new heights playing a dangerously obese man on a redemptive path in one of the best movies of the year, and Oscar-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro makes the tale of Pinocchio relevant for modern audiences. Want some holiday fare, too? There’s plenty, featuring heartwarming romance, a killer robot St. Nick and a scrappy horror take on the Grinch.
Here’s a guide to new movies that will satisfy every cinematic taste, plus some noteworthy theatrical films making their streaming and on-demand debuts.
‘The Whale’ review:Brendan Fraser’s soulful, Oscar-ready performance will blow you away
Darren Aronofsky’s latest psychological drama is an intimate character study of a 600-pound online writing teacher (Fraser) who’s desperate to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter (“Stranger Things” standout Sadie Sink), who’s a bit of a pill. It’s a well-acted, soulful triumph, with a career-defining, big-hearted showing from Fraser and another notch in Sink’s young but impressive resume.
Where to watch: In theaters
‘My brain was misfiring’:Brendan Fraser tells Adam Sandler he was ‘starved of’ carbs for ‘George of the Jungle’
Walt Disney defined the story of the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy for generations, and now del Toro does the same in a wonderfully strange stop-motion animated version of the familiar fairy tale. This time, it’s set in 1930s Italy, where our piney hero takes on war and fascism with an A-list voice cast including Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz and Cate Blanchett.
Where to watch: Netflix
Sam Mendes’ love letter to movie theaters focuses on employees at a cinema on the English coast in the early 1980s, the relationship between a middle-aged duty manager (Olivia Colman) and a young Black ticket taker (Micheal Ward), and the sociopolitics of the era. It’s not as good as Mendes’ best work (such as “1917” or “Skyfall”) but the acting’s top notch from Colman, Ward and Toby Jones as the wise resident projectionist.
Where to watch: In theaters
Based on Michael Ausiello’s memoir, the drama follows the relationship between entertainment journalist Michael (Jim Parsons) and Manhattan photographer Kit (Ben Aldridge) from their first meeting to Kit’s final days after a terminal cancer diagnosis. It’s a pretty straightforward weeper, but cleverly weaves in Michael’s uber-passion for TV and gets it together for an effective finale.
Where to watch: In theaters
What starts out like a cinematic ad for the high-end jewelry store ends up as a charming little comedy, thanks to its lead actors. A fateful mixup in Manhattan involving Christmas gifts in those bright blue Tiffany bags –  including an engagement ring – leads a visiting writer (Kendrick Sampson) and a local baker (Zoey Deutch) to get to know each other and rethink their respective relationships with significant others.
Where to watch:Amazon Prime Video
Ranked:The 20 best Christmas movies of all time (from ‘Home Alone’ to ‘Die Hard’)
The slow-burn holiday horror begins with a record-store owner (Riley Dandy) and others embracing sex and drinking on Christmas Eve. But the ho-ho-ho-hum plot finally takes a turn when a robotic store Santa (Abraham Benrubi) – which was supposed to be recalled because of its origins as a government war machine (oops!) – is on the loose and starts murdering the town’s residents in ghastly fashion.
Where to watch: In theaters and on Shudder
Are you intrigued by the upcoming scary-movie takes on Winnie the Pooh and Bambi? Here’s an early present: A bloody “what if?” spin on Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” imagines that  tale ending differently (and much worse). A grown-up Cindy (Krystle Martin) returns to her town and faces off with that furry green guy (David Howard Thornton of “Terrifier” fame), reimagined as a nasty slasher villain.
Where to watch: In theaters
‘Blood and Honey’:How can Winnie the Pooh be made a killer? The public domain, explained
The “Night at the Museum” franchise gets an animated fourth installment that trades star power for a goofier vibe that fits the over-the-hop historical high jinks. With Museum of Natural History night watchman Larry (voiced by Zachary Levi, replacing Ben Stiller’s role) working at a new gig in Tokyo, his teen son Nick (Joshua Bassett) takes over the job and has to deal with the return of a megalomaniacal Egyptian villain (Joseph Kamal).
Where to watch: Disney+
Two years ago, the delightfully fresh broad comedy “The Binge” parodied “The Purge” with a plot imagining an America where drugs and alcohol were allowed only one day per year. The sequel is a letdown, as Christmas Eve becomes the new binge night and best pals (“Stranger Things” star Eduardo Franco and Dexter Darden) navigate a narrative that borrows from much better holiday movies. 
Where to watch: Hulu


Leave a Comment