Posted Thu Nov 19, 2015 at 12:05 PM PST by Matthew Hartman
It happens every year, the last Thursday of November, the grand holiday known to most as Thanksgiving. It's a day for the three "F's" - Food, Football, and Family. While spending time with family is usually a good thing, sometimes it can be a bit... stressful - or even downright irritating. The delicious food and home-baked pies with heaping sides of mashed potatoes help, but after awhile, a little family time can get to be a bit too much to handle. In order to maintain your sanity, you're going to need to escape to a good movie. But not just any movie will do. You want a film that's entertaining, but not one that's entertaining to everyone - just some people - after all you don't want to be a total recluse on this busy day but you don't want the entire crowd to join in on. We've worked up a list of 15 great movies to help you get through the family craziness of Thanksgiving family!
Why 'Die Hard 2' you may be asking? Why not 'Die Hard?' While the first 'Die Hard' is a holiday action classic, it's also extremely popular with most folks, and it could draw a lot of extra viewers - that's why you put on 'Die Hard 2.' It's not as popular as the first film, most people consider it an inferior rehash of the original so they'll be less inclined to watch it with you. It's still a heck of a lot of fun - where else are you going to see John McClane get ejected out of an exploding cargo jet, fight the rogue army division aligned to a Latin-American dictator, and get in a fight on the wing of a jetliner with William Sadler? Only in 'Die Hard 2: Die Harder!'
With titles like 'Son of Kong,' 'Mighty Joe Young,' 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,' and 'Them!' to choose from, you've got the makings of some great movie watching. The best part about this set is that these movies are wildly entertaining and should help boost your metabolism just enough to make room for more pie. Also, these movies aren't the ones everyone loves to watch and at the same time are kid-friendly enough that most little ones running around the house shouldn't have a problem sitting down to some giant gorillas, an ancient lizard destroying a city, or a hoard of mutant ants devouring people!
When you're hanging out with family, things can occasionally get a bit tense - even when folks are digging into their second helping of mashed potatoes and gravy. When things get heavy, you need a good, dumb laugh. Specifically, you need the silly laughs that only the original 'Dumb & Dumber' can provide. It's still a hilarious movie, whose humor wasn't wounded by a tragic prequel or an inferior sequel. On top of that, it also offers the right kind of humor that doesn't quite appeal to everyone, so you should get a little peace and quite while you're laughing your head off.
James Bond is popular in virtually every home, so you need to be careful with which one you chose. Not everyone enjoys the Roger Moore films, and even then, not everyone loves 'Moonraker', but we think it's the perfect movie to watch on a day that is already loaded with indulgences. Why not watch Jaws get a girlfriend in a movie with a climatic laser battle in space? 'Moonraker' is solid cheesy fun that you should get a kick out of while limiting the chances for an expanding audience gathering around you and crowding out your fun.
Nothing helps the natural digestive processes quite like watching one of the best westerns ever made. On top of that, this movie is nice and long and provides you ample time to make some space for a second helping of whatever was served during your holiday get together. Even better, if you happen to drift off into a food coma, chances are it will still be going when you wake up. It's also such a good movie that if anyone is watching it with you, they probably won't mind you going back to where you passed out so you don't miss any of the numerous amazing moments this movie has to offer.
This Ray Harryhausen adventure classic features some eye-popping visual effects work from the stop-motion master as well as a fun and entertaining flick. What's nice about this one is that not everyone in the house will love it. Shocking as it may seem, this movie just isn't their ideal source of entertainment making it the perfect pick for when you need to decide if you're going for another helping of turkey. It also has an amazing Bernard Herrmann score that should get the blood pumping and help you digest.
At times, having the family over for Thanksgiving can feel a bit like an infestation. You love these people to death, but after awhile, you just need to come up for air. James Cameron's hit follow-up to 'Alien' provides the perfect thematically appropriate entertainment opportunity. Sure some folks might give you the side eye for putting on something that isn't kid-friendly, but then again, there are plenty who wouldn't mind watching Ripley climb into that power-loader. It's a crowd-pleaser that's not quite for everyone in the crowd.
Pain don't hurt, but Holiday Stress sure can, that's why this Patrick Swayze dude flick can provide you the perfect opportunity to balance out the day. Some are going to watch the Detroit Lions, others can start quoting one of the best movies ever committed to celluloid. It offers over the top performances, bad music, cheesy dialogue, and it makes for the perfect eating game. Every time Swayze says something philosophical or quippy, take a bite of mashed potatoes. Just be careful not to over do it more than you already have!
A true Thanksgiving tradition, the MST3k Turkey Day marathon is a great way to spend a day of eating entirely too much food. Sometimes family can get in the way of this particular piece of holiday cheer - some people just don't have a sense of humor. That's why 'Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie' is a great way to check out for a bit, and still get to enjoy the captives of the S.O.L. as they endure another terrible movie. Also, you can learn who the cool members of your family are real quick by seeing who watches this one with you and laughs.
Thanksgiving is also a big day known for football. If you're a longtime Lions fan like me, you know there's a chance this game can go south fast. If or when that happens and you still need a football fix, 'Rudy' is a great substitute. Sure it's college ball, but hey, can you think of another movie out there that has the power to make a room full of grown men cry? This Blu-ray is a great way to slowly burn those ingested calories and still enjoy the spirit of the holiday.
If the annual Thanksgiving Day Football Game isn't going well, 'Commando' provides the perfect opportunity to ramp of the necessary testosterone quota for the day. For a rough and tough explosion-filled Schwarzenegger movie that features the Austrian Oak mowing down an entire private army single-handedly, it's actually not that violent, so if you're the fun aunt or uncle who want to expose your siblings' kids to something they're perhaps not normally allowed to see, this one isn't a bad choice! On top of telling goofy jokes at the kids' table, you can be the cool one who showed the little ones 'Commando!' Just swear them to secrecy before you hit "play" on the Blu-ray player.
Part of Thanksgiving for me was watching the classic sci-fi movies that a local TV station would air every year. My favorite was this particular Leslie Nielsen classic. It's fun for all ages even though not everyone will love it. If someone ever questions why you would be watching this film, just remind them you're watching a great work of art! Add in the incredible visual effects and creepy music and you've pulled out a great movie that all of the cool people in your home should enjoy, but only the cool people.
This Michael Mann action adventure classic is a great one to watch as the desert to your Thanksgiving dinner. It's got action, it's got romance, it's got a great score so it appeals to most people but not quite everyone. Plus virtually the entire cast spends the movie running around the woods or rowing a boat - so when you're thinking about adding ice cream to your pumpkin pie, you can pretend you're working out so the calories don't count towards your day's quota.
'Star Wars' and 'Star Trek' are incredibly popular franchises that a lot of people visiting your home may be all too willing to sit down and watch right beside you. That's where 'Spaceballs' is a bit of a savior. This hilarious movie offers you the chance to get your sci-fi fix while ensuring that not everyone visiting will sit down to watch this one. it's also one of those movies that some of the youngsters - but not all - will be able to enjoy too!
Perhaps the single greatest Thanksgiving movie ever made, 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles' features Steve Martin and the late, wonderful John Candy as two men eager to get home in time to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their families. They start out irritating each other but end up becoming best friends. It's the perfect movie to round up as many guests in your home as you can for a viewing because it serves as the perfect reminder to why we endure the holiday every year. So before your friends and loved ones are about to put on their coats and make the long slow trek home, make sure you close out the evening with this classic piece of family comedy.
We here at High-Def Digest wish each and every one of you the very best this holiday season. May your Thanksgiving dinner be bountiful, may your company be friendly, and may your movie-watching be joyful!
The latest news on all things 4K Ultra HD, blu-ray and Gear.