On DEC. 17, LEMONY SNICKET'S A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS hopes to follow in the lucrative footsteps of Harry Potter by adapting the first three novels of the kid-lit series into a kid flick. Mysterious writer Lemony Snicket (Jude Law) reports on the tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans (top), who must live with their unscrupulous Uncle Olaf (Jim Carrey). Expect a lot of alliteration and phrases like "disaster ensues."
Also opening DEC. 17 is SPANGLISH, in which Adam Sandler plays the grown-up in a dysfunctional family, and A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, with Audrey Tautou as a French woman seeking her missing soldier fiance in World War I (see reviews, p. 63 and 62, respectively). And, of course, there's FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, an action-adventure film about a group of strangers who must work together to survive after their plane crashes in the desert. Fortunately, one of the passengers is Dennis Quaid, and if The Day After Tomorrow taught us one thing, it's that he doesn't mind starring in a crap movie as long as he can be the hero.
Then on DEC. 22, it's time to MEET THE FOCKERS. Oddly enough, Ben Stiller and Teri Polo still aren't married in the long-awaited sequel to 2000's Meet the Parents, and it's time for the soon-to-be in-laws to meet. Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand play Stiller's laid-back parents. Robert De Niro rehashes his role as a jerk. If slapstick doesn't appeal, ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER'S THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA provides a lavish cinematic treatment of the lavish musical. At least they didn't choose Cats.-- Heather Kuldell
Rock and roll mishmash
ROCK LOTTO: A BATTLE OF HASTILY ASSEMBLED BANDS is the brainchild of local musicians Brian Fletcher of Luigi and Jeff Holt of Silent Kids. The day of rock spontaneity begins at 10 a.m. on DEC. 18, when more than 30 musicians representing more than 12 bands -- including the Close, Magnapop and I Almost Saw God in the Metro -- gather at the Earl to draw names and create six different five-person bands. The all-new groups will then spend the day creating a 20-minute set that may include no more than one cover song. Their struggles are all for our viewing pleasure: That evening, the teams go head-to-head for a series of performances (see Vibes, p. 99). $5. 9:30 p.m. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.-- Chad Radford
'Twas the night before Christmas
Many of the city's bigger nonprofits, such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank, already have fulfilled their holiday volunteering needs. Others could still use a bit of help before Christmas Eve.
TOYS FOR TOTS: Dec. 19-24 is the organization's major time of need, during which donated toys are sorted, bagged and distributed to those less fortunate. Register at www.atlantatoysfortots.com.
HOSEA FEED THE HUNGRY & HOMELESS: Leading up to Christmas Eve, the organization is in need of more than 150 volunteers to help set up and decorate Turner Field for the annual Christmas morning feast. More than 300 volunteers also are needed to provide prisoners at the DeKalb County jail with a Christmas Eve meal. Register to volunteer at www.hoseafeedthehungry.com.
CAFE 458: The quaint Edgewood Avenue cafe serves up quality, chef-prepared food in a dignified atmosphere and needs volunteers to both cook and serve food on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Visit www.samhouse.org for registration.
For a host of other holiday volunteer activities, visit www.handsonatlanta.org.-- Layla Bellows
December, 16, Thursday
The thing about MOS DEF is that when he refers to The New Danger, his commentary could be socio-political or lyrical. The emcee has heart, smarts, a new album and acting chops, too. Provided the knuckleheads stay home, there won't be any drama tonight, just solid hip-hop. $32.50-$34. 8 p.m. EarthLink Live, 1374 W. Peachtree St. 404-885-1365. www.earthlinklive.com. (T. LaGon)
December, 17, Friday Big Mike and his merry, extra large elves tackle Christmas tonight with the KINGSIZED HOLIDAY ON THE ROCKS WITH A TWIST. The popular annual event features warm and fuzzy holiday standards, trimmed with swanky tinsel, and served with a wink and a tease with special guests from the Dames A'Flame burlesque troupe. $10. 8 p.m. (doors). Echo Lounge, 404-681-3200. www.echostatic.com. (Lee Valentine Smith)
December, 18, Saturday Blues, boogie woogie and ragtime piano rocks the Northside Tavern's ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PIANO NIGHT, during which a stocking full of artists, including 60-year veteran performer Eddie Tigner and boogie master Bob Page, tickle the ivories. There's also a free buffet of smoked turkey with all the trimmings. $7. 10 p.m. 1058 Howell Mill Road. 404-874-8745. www.northsidetavern.com. (LVS)
December, 19, Sunday If out-of-town guests are in your Christmas future, plan to stop at the crowd-pleasing CHIHULY IN THE GARDEN: A WHOLE NEW SPECIES OF ART. The popular exhibition of the glass superstar's works incorporated into the grounds of the Atlanta Botanical Garden closes New Year's Eve. $7-$12. Tues., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Wed.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Through Dec. 31. 1345 Piedmont Ave. 404-876-5859. www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org. (Felicia Feaster)
December, 20, Monday If you love kiddie wrasslin', then you'll wanna get on down to the DIXIE NATIONAL WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS for the "youth folkstyle" competition. That's the kind of wrestling they do in the Olympics -- no 2-by-4s or folding chairs. Wanna wrassle? Competitors must be in eighth grade or below; registration is $40. Spectators: $8-$10. 8 a.m. The Arena at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. 404-249-6400. www.dixienationalswrestling.com. (Coley Ward)
December, 21, Tuesday The varieties of trauma and solidarity, resilience and loss that defined Sept. 11 are examined in the Carter Presidential Library and Museum's show AFTER 9/11: MESSAGES FROM THE WORLD AND IMAGES OF GROUND ZERO. Now in its final weeks, the exhibition includes letters, poems, paintings, drawings, quilts, photos and other gifts that poured in to New York after the tragedy. $5-$7. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Sun., noon-4:45 p.m. Through Jan. 2. 441 Freedom Parkway. 404-865-7102. www.jimmycarterlibrary.org. (FF)
December, 22, Wednesday @WAG body:My dad once told me that the best gift is something you'd want to get, which is why I'll be doing some last-minute shopping at the Spruill Gallery's HOLIDAY ARTIST MARKET. From paintings to crafts, ceramics and jewelry by local and national artists, my holiday shopping tends to be of the one-for-you, one-for-me variety. Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through Dec. 23. 4681 Ashford-Dunwoody Road. 770-394-4019. www.spruillarts.org. (LB)