1. The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause – Tim Allen returns for the final installment of the Santa Clause trilogy. In this episode, his position as Old Saint Nick is challenged by a more sinister Winter figure, Jack Frost (Martin Short). Meanwhile, his Santa secret is challenged by his alter-ego, Scott Calvin’s in-laws (Ann-Margaret and Alan Arkin) who insist on spending the holidays with their daughter’s new family. Spencer Breslin (elf Curtis), Eric Lloyd (Charlie Calvin) and Elizabeth Mitchell (Carol Calvin/Mrs. Clause) have also returned for this film but missing from the cast is David Krumholtz (CBS’s Numb3rs) as Santa’s right hand elf, Bernard. (In theaters November 3*)
2. Happy Feet – In the world of Emperor Penguins of Antarctica, a penguin is no one unless he can sing. The story has a hint of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in that Mumble (voiced by Elijah Wood) who was born to tap dance, is different from the rest of the penguins, his father, Memphis (Hugh Jackman), claims it “isn’t penguin” to not sing, and the leader of Emperor Land, Noah the Elder (Hugo Weaving) banishes Mumble because of his differences. Away from his community, Mumble finds the un-Emperor-like group of Adelie Amigos and is instantly accepted for his cool dance moves. And, as an added treat, the film features dance sequences by Stomp’s Savion Glover. (In theaters November 17)
3. Deck the Halls – In the tradition of Holiday suburban-family comedies Christmas with the Kranks, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Home Alone and Jingle All the Way, comes Deck the Halls, starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito as neighbors bent on bettering one another in the neighborhood home decoration contest. It sounds like a good time but the film’s cast (also including Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenoweth) may have to be it’s saving grace considering director John Whitesall’s track record: Big Momma’s House 2, Malibu’s Most Wanted and See Spot Run. While it is not deemed inappropriate for younger viewers, this film will most likely be better appreciated by families with older (pre-teen and teenaged) children. (In theaters November 22)
4. Eragon – Based on the landmark novel by Christopher Paolini, Eragon (title character played by newcomer Edward Speelers) follows a young farm boy as he befriends a dragon, hatched from an egg he found on the farm. Eragon is the first book in Paolini’s Inheritance series and promises to follow in the footsteps of modern day fantastical predecessors, The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. The film also stars Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Robert Carlyle as well as R&B siren Joss Stone. (In theaters December 15)
5. Charlotte’s Web – Dakota Fanning once again works to bring a childhood classic to life. This time she stars as E.B. White’s Fern, savior of Wilbur the runt piglet. In the vein of films which use real animals but add animation to make them more human like, such as Babe and Because of Winn Dixie, Charlotte’s Web features the voices of Julia Roberts (as Charlotte), Oprah Winfrey (as Gussy the goose), Steve Buschemi (as Templeton Rat) and Dominic Scott Kay (as Wilbur). Dakota’s younger sister Elle is also part of the cast, playing Fern’s granddaughter in later years. (In theaters December 20)
*Release dates taken from RottenTomatoes.com and are subject to change.