Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Giving thanks at the cinema

By Yoshi Makishima

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Thanksgiving is coming up and that means two things: massive tryptophan comas, and the beginning of the holiday movie rush. To take advantage of holiday crowds, cinemas will be rolling out the action-packed blockbusters, bawdy comedies and a few pieces of early Oscar bait. Those of you headed home for Thanksgiving break may be going to the movies with the family. Others of you might be stuck on campus, looking for a fun escape for a few hours. To help you navigate the upcoming box office blitz, here’s a list of some Thanksgiving weekend movies to look out for.

If you’re going to the movies with parents, this season offers a couple of harmless, sweet comedies with intergenerational appeal. First up is “Last Vegas,” about four buddies played by Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline, throwing a bachelor party in Vegas. Call it “The Hangover” for Baby Boomers.

Also in theaters is “About Time,” in which a young man (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that he can travel in time. Naturally, he uses this power to get the girl of his dreams (Rachel McAdams). Directed by Richard Curtis – the man behind “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Love, Actually” – “About Time” promises to be yet another soppy, harmless, heartwarming romantic comedy.

If you’ll be dragging younger siblings to the movies with you, there’s Disney’s “Frozen.” The latest installment in the Disney Princess canon, “Frozen” is very loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” Princess Elsa (Idina Menzel), cursed with magical ice powers, accidentally freezes her entire kingdom. To save her sister and end the eternal winter, Princess Anna (Kristen Bell) travels through the icy wilderness with the help of strapping mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and a talking snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad). The film has caught some criticism for being too much like Disney’s last CGI princess movie, “Tangled,” particularly because both films feature caucasian, blonde heroines with similarly “spunky” personalities. The movie may prove fatally formulaic, but since it’s Disney, the visuals at least will be spectacular.

For those of you with teens siblings, there are a pair of releases based on thematically-dark young adult novels: Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and Marcus Zusak’s “The Book Thief.” “Catching Fire,” the second film in the “Hunger Games” trilogy, features familiar faces, including Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, as well as a few newcomers, including Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Gamekeeper Plutarch Heavensbee, Jeffrey Wright as tech genius Beetee and Sam Claflin as in-universe sex symbol Finnick Odair.

While “Hunger Games” takes us into a dystopian future, “The Book Thief,” set in WWII Germany, takes us into the bleak past. Though the subject matter is tough stuff, the story is a moving representation of the redemptive power of reading and language. The actors will perform with German accents – a welcome touch of realism when so many of today’s period movies tend to adhere to the “all foreign languages are English with British accents” rule.

Even though Oscar season isn’t in full swing yet, a few movies aimed at adults headed to the cinemas this month are clear front-runners for nominations. An obvious choice is “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” In this film set in the 1980’s, Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey), a rodeo cowboy with AIDS, comes up with an ingenious solution to get treatment for himself and his fellow patients. Also starring Jennifer Garner (severely glammed-down) as a sympathetic doctor and Jared Leto as a transvestite prostitute and fellow AIDS patient, “Dallas Buyer’s Club” promises several deeply-moving performances.

Also in November, Spike Lee’s remake of the South Korean neo noir “Oldboy,” with Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Elizabeth Olson (Mary Kate and Ashley’s talented little sister) will hit the screens. “Oldboy” is the tale of a man kidnapped and held captive for 20 years, only to be released into a new kind of imprisonment. If the remake is anything like the original Korean version, “Oldboy” will be full of shocking twists and turns. For the full effect, be sure to avoid any and all spoilers.

For something with all the action but less thinking, there’s “Homefront.” This is Jason Statham’s latest contribution to the “angry dad” action movie genre (think of one-worded titles like “Taken,” “Firewall” or “Stolen”), in which an ex-DEA agent moves to a small town with his young daughter, only to be assailed by a violent gang of drug traffickers.

However, despite some tough, high-quality competition, the Thanksgiving box office may ultimately be dominated by the raunchy comedies “Best Man Holiday,” and “Delivery Man.” “Best Man Holiday” is the sequel to the 1999 sex comedy/drama “The Best Man,” while “Delivery Man” is Vince Vaughn’s latest comedy about a sperm bank donor who goes in search of the 533 children his donations produced.

Though these movies may not be the most substantive on the list (the fact that “The Best Man” took 14 years to get made is either a good sign, or a very bad one), they may be the most appropriate choices for Thanksgiving break. The holidays can be a rough time, even in the best company. On Black Friday, when you’re picking over cold potatoes or braving the frothy crowds at the Walmart, a good laugh with friends may be exactly what you need.

Yoshi Makishima can be reached at [email protected]

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