'The Nativity Story':Keisha Castle-Hughes, the youngest Best Actress nominee in the history of the Oscars (she was nominated for 'Whale Rider' in 2004 at the age of 13) stars as "Mary," aka the Virgin Mary, aka the mother of the son of God, in this re-telling of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. I can't make any jokes about the movie because I'm afraid God might smite me; but as far as potential market share, it seems clear that the studio, New Line, is hoping the crowds that made 'The Passion of the Christ' a runaway hit will give 'The Nativity Story' a look-see. Certainly it'll draw a sizable Christian audience, and it's coming out just in time for Christmas (I hear that's related to the birth of Jesus somehow). But director Catherine Hardwicke ('Thirteen,''Lords of Dogtown') is no Mel Gibson. Of course, that's not always a bad thing.
'National Lampoon's Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj': Believe it or not, if you count TV and straight-to-DVD releases, there have been 31 National Lampoon movies. Yup, this includes gems like'National Lampoon's Dorm Daze 2,' which came out on DVD this September and starred, umm, somebody. John Belushi would be proud. As for this weekend's addition to the Lampoon archives, the sequel to 'Van Wilder' sends Kal Penn (who co-starred in the first film but hit the big time with 'Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle') to Oxford so that he can teach Brits how to party. We've seen in recent weeks that movies like 'Tenacious D' and 'Let's Go to Prison' have failed to move frat-boy crowd from the kegs to the theaters, so 'The Rise of Taj,' despite its built-in audience, might have a tough slog, especially since Tara Reid has moved on to bigger and better projects. I'm not kidding. Botched liposuction is a terrible epidemic.
'Turistas': A group of pretty young things (Josh Duhamel, Melissa George, Olivia Wilde, Beau Garrett) travels to Brazil. The bus breaks down. Our friends find a happenin' bar conveniently located on a beautiful remote beach, party down with the locals and an excellent host named Tequila Shots, and then ... well, let's just say things go wrong. Very, very wrong. It's not quite a slasher flick, but 'Turistas' falls into a category of vacation-horror films that tend to do well, regardless of quality or logic or the blind stupidity of some of the characters involved. (Don't these people ever learn? For the lessons we've gleaned from vacation-horror movies, click here.) So while there isn't much to make this movie stand out, it's got attractive people wearing very little clothing -- there's one scene that exists for no other reason except to get Beau Garrett to take her top off -- and a decent squirm factor, and that's really all it needs. Plus, it was filmed entirely in Brazil, and that's gotta be good for something, if only to Brazilians.
NOTE: Prediction entries must be submitted by midnight (Pacific time) on Saturday, and you may only post one prediction. Go on, make me proud.