Thanksgiving Movies 2010: What To Bother Taking Your Family To See

Like many of you I'm back staying with my parents this week, preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving and stuff our faces and, eventually, head out to the movie theater. My dad sees about two movies in theaters a year and always saves the trip for when I come home, not only so he can get through the previews with his movie critic daughter explaining whether or not those movies will be any good, but because what's a better pastime than going to the movies the day after Thanksgiving? You've got the day off and the dishes are all done, but going to the gym to make up for all the calories you ate can only take up so much time. Eventually you're going to need more entertainment, and why shouldn't you let Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe or Anne Hathaway provide it?

Thanksgiving isn't exactly the moviegoing season the way Christmas or summer is, but the studios do bring out some of the big guns to entertain all those captive audiences of families already sick of talking to each other. This year there's plenty to choose from, including family-friendly animated musicals, a couple of indie hits destined for Oscar glory, and a surprising number of R-rated offerings-- if everyone in your family is over 17, you're especially in luck this year. Below I run down the 10 films you're most likely to catch in theaters this weekend, who would be best to take them to, and which Thanksgiving releases of the past they're most like. If you're looking for this year's Slumdog Millionaire or The Polar Express, now you know which films to catch (or avoid, depending on your preferences). Gather 'round the table tomorrow, but on Friday, when you're ready to sit alone in the dark, I've got you covered.

When your companions have a healthy appreciation for musical theater and Cher: Burlesque.

It's not the best-reviewed movie out there, and it's certainly not for everyone, but Burlesque embrace of camp, sequins and diva sing-offs seems like a pretty unchallenging option for the turkey-stuffed, and the sight of Christina Aguilera's abs may be enough to inspire you stay away from the leftovers once you get back home.

Best for: Families mostly made up of adults and/or gay men.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Australia in 2008, and spent the whole time talking about Hugh Jackman's muscles and Nicole Kidman's wardrobe.

When everyone is over 17 and fondly remembers the 90s: Love and Other Drugs.

It's that rare romantic comedy that's actually aiming for adult audiences, and comes with a lot of Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal nudity for your R-rating. It'll probably be a little awkward to look at all that unexposed flesh while sitting next to your parents, though, so this might be a "friends-only" type of outing.

Best for: Groups of friends whose favorite part of Brokeback Mountain was the brief Jake and Anne sex scene.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Love Actually in 2003, but wished it would ditch the fluffy romance and toss in more penis jokes.

When you're feeling a serious lack of testosterone after spending the day in the kitchen: Faster.

With the bound-to-be-immortal tagline "Slow justice is no justice" and the trailers that promise nothing more than Dwayne Johnson picking up a giant gun and killing a ton of people, Faster looks like the dumbest fun you can have in a movie theater this weekend that doesn't come with sequins (for that see Burlesque, above).

Best for: Kids who grew up with Johnson's children's comedies and are now old enough to see him take his revenge.

Kind of like that time you all saw…. Ninja Assassin last year, but wished it starred an actor you recognized and was less visually interesting.

When you've got kids to entertain and major Disney nostalgia: Tangled.

It's the best-reviewed movies in theaters this week, and the best princess movie has made since Aladdin. It's also worth seeing in 3D and a genuinely great movie-- it may be aiming for little girls who love princesses and little boys who love animated adventure, but it plays across the board.

Best for: Families old and young-- literally everyone.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Enchanted in 2007. Really, exactly like that.

When you're in a major city and love Colin Firth (and who doesn't?): The King's Speech.

Oscar fanatics are already well-aware that this Firth-starring movie is destined to win a whole stack of awards, but given how well it played at the Toronto International Film Festival (it won the Audience Award), it's not the kind of prestige film that also feels like punishment. It's the perfect movie for people who might be skeptical that they'd like a movie about a king with a stutter, because they're bound to be pleasantly surprised.

Best for: People with at least one history buff in the group who will convince everyone to come see it despite their protests (it's worth it).

Kind of like that time you all saw… Milk in 2008, and then bragged throughout the rest of the Oscar race that you were on board first.

When you need something holiday-themed and don't care what it is: The Nutcracker in 3D.

The 3D take on the ballet classic have been getting abysmal reviews so consider yourself warned-- surely your local ballet company would much rather you see their version instead? But if visions of sugar plum fairies are already dancing in your head, and for some reason you can't find Elf on DVD, it's your funeral.

Kind of like that time you all saw… The Polar Express in any of the various years it's been re-released, and didn't see what everyone found so creepy about it.

When you somehow haven't seen it already and Grandma is a Potterhead: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1:.

The Harry Potter movies are generally the kind of thing that everyone sees opening weekend if you're going to see them at all, but the latest installment will probably do good business this weekend holiday weekend with families where the kids get to choose the movie. Fair warning to parents coming fresh to the franchise, though: if this is the first one you've seen, you might be better off dropping everyone else off and catching Love and Other Drugs instead.

Best for: Families with a high tolerance for magical suspense, and particularly existing Potter fans.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005, except sorry, Robert Pattinson isn't in it this time.

When you're in the mood for something dumb and the Faster tickets are sold out: Unstoppable.

Plus, haven't you been dying of suspense ever since this movie came out to know if they can possibly stop the train? Denzel Washington will rescue the world as surely as that electric turkey carving knife rescued dinner-- and just as predictably. What's not to like?

Best for: Adrenaline junkies too young to get past the R-rating for Faster.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Deja Vu in 2006-- this time with Captain Kirk!

When you're bored of the Bond marathon on TNT and need something a little more American: The Next Three Days.

It's far smarter and more entertaining than you would guess from its dismal box office performance so far, so catch it in theaters while you can, and bring along your dad and brother and grandfather and anyone else who might appreciate seeing Russell Crowe running around with a gun and executing a foolproof plan.

Best for: Dudes, dude-sympathizers, and dads the world over.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Quantum of Solace, and wished Paul Haggis would try writing something that made a little sense next time.

When you're in the mood for something uplifting and have a very strong stomach: 127 Hours.

Danny Boyle's new movie is getting rave reviews, and will be a major Oscar player, but it comes with the big caveat of "that arm-cutting scene," in which James Franco's character slices off his limb with a dull knife and iron will. The movie is worth the struggle, but that single scene automatically leaves out the more squeamish members of the family-- my mom, for example.

Best for: Adventurous moviegoers who are a safe distance from their last meal.

Kind of like that time you all saw… Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, and didn't get why everyone thought the diving into poop scene was so gross.

Katey Rich

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend