Movies

Spend that after-dinner turkey coma in a movie theater: 'Catching Fire,' 'Frozen,' and 'Delivery Man'

Nov. 28, 2013 at 4:41 AM ET

Video: From the sequel to “The Hunger Games” to the Oscar-buzzed “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Variety senior editor Ramin Setoodeh previews some must-sees for the long weekend.

There are only so many turkey sandwiches you can make, football games you can watch, and Black Friday sales during which you can get trampled. If you're marking some time out of your holiday weekend for a trip to the movies, here's your guide.

IMAGE: Frozen, Black Nativity, Catching Fire, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Disney, Fox, Weinstein. Lionsgate
"Frozen," "Black Nativity," "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," and "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" are among your Thanksgiving movie choices.

For those who need to bridge the generation gap
Nothing says Thanksgiving like Jennifer Lawrence brandishing a bow and arrow. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" broke the November box-office record when it opened on Nov. 22, but it'll still be burning all this holiday week and beyond. In many ways, the second film is better than the first, thanks to new cast members and a plot that really kicks into gear once Katniss and Peeta land back in the arena in a kind of "Hunger Games: All-Stars" battle. The second installment based on the series of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, it’s sure to leave many moviegoers discussing how long the wait seems until "Mockingjay Part 1" (November 2014) and "Mockingjay Part 2" (November 2015).

For the kids' table
Parents, kids, and kids-at-heart, you have something to be thankful for this holiday. Disney's "Frozen" is a dazzling 3-D ice adventure that's sure to take its place among other animated classics. Princesses Anna and Elsa aren't your passive, someday-my-prince-will-come royalty. They have strength, they have grit, and they have a swirling, breathtaking winter setting in which to pursue their adventures. There are some scary moments, so think hard before taking the 3-and-under set, but lovable snowman Olaf making jokes about his butt makes the few frights go down a bit easier.

For those who've switched into Christmas mode
Music lovers how couldn’t wait for Christmas carols to start playing on radio airwaves this year, "Black Nativity" is for you. A streetwise Baltimore teen is sent to live with his estranged grandparents in New York and rediscovers the true meaning of the holiday and of family. The star power and the vocals here are second-to-none, with Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson playing the teen's single mom and Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett as the reverend and wife who take him in. Nas, Tyrese and Mary J. Blige fill out the cast.

For those who need to laugh
The selection of comedies this holiday is about as slim as the turkey carcass after the cousins got through packing up leftovers. If you want simple-but-far-from-Oscar-quality, Vince Vaughn finds out he's a sperm-donor dad to 533 kids in "Delivery Man." If you want an R-rated Christmas-themed comedy about relationships, try "Best Man Holiday." And if you laugh unashamedly at YouTube videos of people falling, seek out "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa." You might not want to take your elders to that last one, unless their senses of humor run more to prosthetic private parts than "take my wife, please" jokes.

For those who need inspiration
It's easy to get bogged down in a million annoying details about the holiday season. "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" is our reminder that there is a bigger world out there, one with truly inspiring men and women fighting bravely against injustice. Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from "The Wire”) is earning raves for playing Nelson Mandela, with Variety calling his work, "a towering performance, a Mandela for the ages." Film fans can expect to hear Elba's name again come Oscar time.

For those who weren't scared enough by family
"Oldboy"
is legendary among followers of Korean cinema for its nightmarish violent images and its slowly revealed plot, a spine-tingling representation of revenge as a dish best served cold. Now Spike Lee has retooled the film for American audiences, and even fans of the original are in for a jolt -- screenwriter Mark Protosevich gives the remake a different ending than the original. Warning: It's savage and disturbing. But maybe your Thanksgiving was too.

For those longing for action and thrills
"Homefront"
is the big new action movie this holiday, with Jason Statham as a DEA agent forced to defend his cute young daughter against meth traffickers led by James Franco. (Sylvester Stallone adapted the screenplay from a novel, but don't laugh – he received an Oscar nomination for writing the "Rocky" screenplay.) But you'll find better action with a couple of films that have already been out for a while -- "Thor: The Dark World" delivers your superhero fix, and "Gravity" will make you thankful you're not an astronaut trapped in space when everything goes horribly wrong.

For those who have Grandma and Grandpa in tow
We're not saying the senior set can't enjoy a good superhero movie or ooh and ahh at "Gravity" with the rest of us. But sometimes it's satisfying to see men and women of a certain age on the big screen. In "Philomena," Judi Dench stars as a woman searching for the son she gave up for adoption 50 years ago. And in "Last Vegas," Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline head to Sin City for a bachelor party -- and some male bonding.


TOP