My family runs a pretty tight holiday tradition ship. On Christmas Eve, we see my Dad’s side of the family, stop at QuikTrip on the way home for giant sodas and hot dogs, open one present each, and go to bed. On Christmas Day, we see what Santa brought, have lunch at Waffle House (my Mom brings a plate of cookies to the staff), visit with my Mom’s side, and then take in a feature film. Usually at a Studio Movie Grill, because my parents are all about having chicken fingers delivered to them while basking in the glory of the silver screen.
My main source of holiday stress comes from the fear of picking the movie we’re all going to end up seeing. My Dad is typically the final word in the decision making process, and my Dad is decidedly not a nerd. At least not about stereotypically nerdy things. My Dad is a nerd for John Wooden and soft serve ice cream at the beach. He’s a specific man with specific tastes. He’s a plain, well done hamburger-kind of guy. My Dad loves me, but he isn’t here for my floofy fantasy epics and space odysseys. He’s only seen one Star Wars film, and it was Attack of the Clones for my 12th birthday. It was all I wanted for my birthday, to see Episode II on opening night. So, really, I guess you can’t blame my Dad for never wanting to dive into more of the franchise.
All to say, The Last Jedi is not going to be an option. Which is fine! It’ll have been out for ten days at that point, so I’ll probably have seen it at least twice. I can deal. But what to see instead?
Sometimes my family takes my vaguely snooty Oscar-bait suggestions into consideration, which is how we saw Django Unchained together a few years back. Everyone was down for Saving Mr. Banks to one degree or another. Anything sports-related is a good bet, so we did Will Smith’s Concussion two years ago, which was a lukewarm film that at least inspired an interesting conversation.
Christmas Day movies with my family haven’t been all bad, is what I’m saying. But when they’re bad, they. are. CATASTROPHIC.
Cut to December 25, 2016.
It’s always a bad sign when my Dad already knows what he wants to see. He’s tough to deter, though I gave it as much of my all as I thought I could without making everyone mad. My options weren’t great. I think I pitched La La Land, which was always going to be a tough sell. Fences would have probably been a serious contender, had it been playing at the Studio Movie Grill, but alas. My Dad had seen trailers for a film that he was certain would be hilarious, despite all the film criticism evidence to the contrary.
This, children, is how my family celebrated peace on Earth and good will toward men by sitting through Bryan Cranston and James Franco in the shitshow that is Why Him?
I care about you, and it is therefore my dearest hope for you that you’ve never seen Why Him? My review can best be summed up by the fact that I turned to my boyfriend at one point during the movie to whisper, “Chekhov’s Moose Urine.” ‘Cause you don’t introduce a giant vat of moose urine in the first act, if it isn’t going to douse your Emmy Award winner in the third act!
I don’t know your Dad. But since I’ve already started studying the December 2017 film release schedule, I thought I would share my top picks and best bets with you, just in case! If your Dad is a nerd, all I ask is that you not look too smug as your whole family takes in your Yuletide showing of The Last Jedi while wearing matching SW PJ’s. I see you. You’re adorable.
So, without further ado: Hope Is The Thing With Lightsabers’ First Annual “Movies to See on Christmas That Will Satisfy Both You and Your Dad Without Featuring Even a Little Moose Urine” Film Guide. Enjoy!
NEVER ABANDON ME DURING HOLIDAY MOVIE SEASON AGAIN, TOM HANKS. The star-studded line-up of Hanks, Streep, and Spielberg is definitely one that Dads can get behind, even in a drama about newspapers and shady government secrets. Fortunately, you also love Hanks, Streep, and Spielberg! Plus: the ensemble includes Alison Brie, Sarah Paulson, and Bradley Whitford. Start petitioning Studio Movie Grill TODAY to make sure they’re planning on showing it.
EH… OKAY BET
Owen Wilson and Ed Helms play brothers on a road trip to find the identity of their biological father. For Dad, we have: “father” is in the title, Christopher Walken, former quarterback Terry Bradshaw talking about someones’ Mom’s “knockers!” What family fun! For you: Even if they’re slumming, J.K. Simmons and Glenn Close do great work. General cause for concern: This is Lawrence Sher’s first film as director. He’s previously worked as a cinematographer on films such as The Hangover, with which Father Figures seems to share a tone. The first Hangover was pretty fun, right? Your Mom sure thought Bradley Cooper was foxy in that all-black ensemble. Your Mom’s a smart lady.
MOST LIKELY TO FEATURE SOME KIND OF ANIMAL URINE BET. GODSPEED.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
I don’t know what to tell you, man. Your Dad likes shenanigans, and your Dad really likes Kevin Hart. The premise of this movie is trying even less hard to connect to the board game source material than 1995’s Jumanji, so that will definitely hold some appeal. Pros: Dwayne Johnson is about the only national treasure we have left. Karen Gillan is bursting with charm, talent, and geek cred. Maybe some of the action set pieces will be cool? You know, the more I’m writing about this, the more I think I’d prefer this to Father Figures, potential for urine be damned. Huh. Well played, Jumani: Welcome to the Jungle.
And that’s what I’ve got for this year’s holiday-releases-that-aren’t-Star Wars suggestions! I hope I’ll see you at the movies! And May the Force Be With Us All.