A Thanksgiving Moviegoing Guide for You and the Whole Family

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Yay, it's Thanksgiving! Meaning you can eat lots of food and watch football and jump around in leaf piles and oh god if you don't get out of this house you are going to scream, so it's time to go to the movies. Thanksgiving is a huge moviegoing weekend in America, with lots of things opening and plenty of solid fall fare already in theaters. But what should you see? Well, it depends on who you're with. Here's a handy guide to help you decide.

If Dad got into the sherry again and Mom can't stop crying about the smoldering turkey now lying in the backyard: You need something soothing and calming and life-affirming. You might, then, want to get the family tickets to Life of Pi. Mom will like the cute animals and positive message. Your whining, dragged-away-from-videogames brother will like the big storm action. And ol' sherry-lovin' pop over there will be trippin' balls at all the computer animation and have the time of his life. When the movie's over everyone will feel relaxed and upbeat, until you get home and the dog has somehow crawled up onto the kitchen counter and eaten all the leftovers and a family of mean raccoons has discovered the turkey in the yard. Next year you're going to a restaurant.

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If your cousin Randy just got back from upstate and everyone is awkward around him: Everyone's happy to see Cousin Randy, of course. Aunt June is beaming and patting his head a lot, your Uncle Buster is actually acknowledging his existence for once, and, hey, your girlfriend is being super nice and asking Randy lots and lots of question about lifting weights in jail and if he knows anyone from West High or just East and she keeps giggling. But still, there's a strange tension in the air and your mom is saying kind of loudly, "Hey, why don't you kids go to a movie or something," because Cousin Randy has always creeped her out a little bit. Your girlfriend is weirdly enthusiastic about the idea and so you all drive down to the theater and, hm, Red Dawn is probably a little too violent, what about Silver Linings Playbook? That's about football or something, right? Go see that one. By movie's end Randy will be laughing like he hasn't been gone for eighteen months, you'll feel good about being so nice to a relative who's just come home from being locked up (just like in the movie!), and your girlfriend will be so tired from meeting your family that she'll be resting her head on Randy's shoulder there in the dark. Good choice, you.

If you decided to not go home and are staying at your apartment with your friends: You're an adult now. You're 25, you can do what you want. Plus it was way too expensive to fly home and sure you coulda figured out the bus or whatever, but that's like a ten-hour trip and for what, like two days at home? It's just not worth it. Plus you'd rather be at your place with Zack and Brad, and Melanie is coming over with that hot chick Lila from Australia, so it's gonna be sick. What to watch while you do the grownup stuff of getting faded and trying to mack on another of Melanie's friends? Trapped In the Closet on IFC, of course. It's gonna be classic. There's a freaking midget in that movie. And Lila's from Australia so she probably hasn't seen it. It's gonna be a great Thanksgiving. Sure your mom sounded kinda weird on the phone when you told her you were staying and your sister who's going home all the way from Portland texted you and said "ur an ass, Cody," but whatever. That was probably about something else. You, R. Kelly, and pretty, pretty Lila are gonna own this Turkey Day.

If you're hosting your in-laws for the first time: Your husband's parents are landing in like three hours and you are insanely behind and of course he's barely been any help, spending all this time trying to clean out the junk in the garage so his mother doesn't start nagging the way she does, all the damn time — no, no. Positive thoughts. You are having positive thoughts today. Here's the plan. You'll get Marjorie — you can call her Marjorie, right? — to help you with some of the food prep and you'll send your husband and his dad off to see the James Bond movie, get them out of the house for a few hours. What's it called? Cloudfall? It doesn't matter, he'll know. Sure it seems a little regressive and old-fashioned to have the men off wherever while the women do the cooking — if your mom only knew... — but whatever, for this one Thanksgiving it's worth it just to make sure everything goes well and no one blows up and Marjorie doesn't start in on the Chardonnay too early. What is it with her and that wine — stop. Nope. Nice thoughts. Only nice things. This is going to be a nice time, goddamnit.

If your little brother finally started talking to you again: There were a few years there where, boy, that kid just would not say a word to you. Teenagers get like that, you guess, but your brother was an extreme case. He was all sullen and sarcastic on the rare occasion that he did speak to you, but was mostly locked up in his room doing god knows what. (You'd rather not know what, you suspect.) Once in a while he'd come downstairs to get food while you had friends over and he'd be all gross and stare at Ashley, thinking you didn't notice, but that was about all the socializing you did. But since you left for college things have been a little different. He actually texted you a few times in October and once, holy hell, called you on the phone to complain about some dumb new rule of Dad's. And then, when you got home from the train station yesterday? He almost gave you a hug. He caught himself and tried to pass it off as a shoulder punch, but you could tell. So act like you didn't notice so you dont freak him out and sometime this weekend say, "I'm bored, wanna got to a movie or something?" and take him to see Red Dawn, 'cause he'll like that and, swoon, Thor is in it. Maybe on the car ride home you can casually try to get some info out of him about this "girlfriend" he supposedly has, who your mom told you about. You're not sure you like the sound of her, some girl named Madison, but you'd be happy to talk to him about it anyway.

If you want to tell your parents about your "roommate": Look, it's time. You're old enough. You've been living with your "roommate" for like six years and things are getting serious with your "roommate," and it's time your parents knew what was up. You think they'll be cool with it, you don't know why you've waited this long to tell them really, but you are still a little nervous. So try to make a post-Thanksgiving night out with them as normal as possible. Go to the movies and tell them sometime afterward at dinner. And what better way to prime them for accepting your socially taboo love by showing them the disastrous consequences that denying that love can have, as it does in Anna Karenina. Sure, you and your "roommate" aren't exactly pariahs of society — you're on a pub trivia team together for god's sake — but you think your folks, your mom especially, will be in an extra sympathetic mood after seeing something like that. If they're really not the type of people to see something so frilly, you could always go see LincolnThen you can say to them afterwards, "You know what some people say about Abraham Lincoln..."

If you're trying to convince everyone that your big city life is fabulous: They didn't want you to move. Your mother thinks it's too dangerous, your dad thinks it's too expensive and impractical, and your sister said you were just trying to be a "lame hipster." But dammit, you wanted to move to the city and so you have. It's been six months and things, well, uh, things are, yes, a little difficult. That neighborhood that Craigslist said was "super convenient!" is a little more out-the-way than you hoped. The job your friend Deedee said she could get you turned out to be mostly parttime and it's kind of shady and under-the-table and you think it's a drug front. Everyone there walks really fast and the food costs like three times as much as it does back home and what is that smell? But. You are resolute. It will get better, and you cannot show any signs of weakness to your family. You need to show them what a cultured person you've become since you moved. So, take them to the new French film Rust & Bone, starring Marion Cotillard and directed by the guy who did that other French movie you think you read about, A Prophet. It's really serious and dramatic with lots of artsy filming and they'll think you're so with-it. Of course never let on that a) you'd much rather be watching Rise of the Guardians, and b) the thought of going back to that nightmare hellscape of a city fills you with teary dread. They don't need to know that. Especially your sister, who rolled her eyes so hard when you referred to the movie using its original French title. She can't know. No one can know. Everything's great. Look at everything you're learning. Look at how far you've come.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.