Scott Marks 3:30 p.m., Dec. 24
An Australian politician/absentee father (Anthony LaPaglia), afraid that news of his wife’s nervous breakdown leaking out will ruin his chances for re-election, throws the missus in a “looney bin” and hires an earthy, in-the-ozone hitchhiker (Toni Colette) and her attack dog to babysit his five hypochondriacal daughters. Finally, Uncle Buck done right. All it needed was writer-director P.J. Hogan to mine his life story as source material for rich autobiographical fodder. A wild ride of a movie that paves its path to redemption with ingenuity and intoxicating Technicolor cobblestones. Once again, all eyes are on the fabulous Ms. Colette, who fell in love with the character while being regaled by Hogan’s stories of her during the making of *Muriel’s Wedding.* With Muriel, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and now Mental, no director currently at work has done more to elevate chick flicks to an art form than P.J. Hogan. 2012.