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Hollywood has carved out a bit of a holiday-movie formula … and it somehow involves the great Diane Keaton. The loveable star of The Family Stone, Something Gotta Give, The First Wives Club and the Father of the Bride movies will dial into another celebrity-stacked holiday ensemble that The Wrap says likely will arrive in theaters next Christmas season.
Jessie Nelson (who wrote and directed I Am Sam with Sean Penn) is on board to helm The Most Wonderful Time for Relativity Media. The site reports that Keaton and Alan Arkin – instead of Robert Redford, who was attached at one point – will play Charlotte and Sam, a long-time married couple who are drifting apart and are considering a divorce. Before they decide to call it quits, the couple agrees to host one last blowout family holiday celebration, with all of their grown up kids (and their families) reuniting under one roof. As the weekend progresses, Sam and Charlotte – SPOILER WARNING!! – start to realize that there might be hope for their marriage yet.
Keaton and Arkin won’t have to do it alone. The Wrap says that Annette Bening, Amanda Seyfried and Theo James (but not Felicity Jones) all are "in various stages of negotiations" to join Nelson’s film, which will be scripted by Stepmom screenwriter Steven Rogers. So you can expect The Most Wonderful Time to look a lot like this:
Palatable. Nothing special. But palatable.
Say what you will, but I think that the studio system has failed to produce a truly memorable Christmas movie in a good long while. December the past few years has been populated with Hobbit films, Django Unchained, Les Miserables and/or The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Ho-ho-ho? Not exactly. In fact, the closest thing we’ve come to a traditional Christmas movie in quite some time is A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (which came out in early November) or Arthur Christmas (which came out at Thanksgiving). Not bad, but neither were quite Elf.
Believe it or not, I’m holding out hope for The Most Wonderful Time. I think that we need smarter, more emotional and authentically sweet holiday movies. Enough with the cynicism and sarcastic holiday "cheer" that has doomed recent Christmas movies like Four Christmases or Surviving Christmas with Ben Affleck and the late James Gandolfini. It’s time to turn that corner, and maybe Wonderful Time will be the movie that carries audiences to the promised land.