The holidays: a time to celebrate the joys of life, a time to give thanks for the things we have, a time to embrace the ones we love.
Also, a time to entertain all those relatives you forgot you had — "Wait, Uncle who?!"
While the end of the year offers opportunities for families to come together, the cheerful window of time is also prime for exploding personality collisions. To avoid a gravy boat flying at any of your heads this holiday season, Hollywood.com advises simply grabbing the nearest relative and heading to the cornucopia of new movie releases that will be hitting theaters over the next month and a half. But not just any movie is fit for any relative. Which ones will keep your spectrum of family members at ease during the chaos of the holiday season? Check out our rundown that should ensure that everyone stays cool long enough to slice up some turkey and keep a smile on their face until dessert:
For the Little Kid Who Just Stopped Believing in Santa: Rise of the Guardians (Nov. 21)
The holidays can be an especially turbulent time for the young person who just developed his or her cynical side. To keep the magic going just a little bit longer, track down the biggest Pixy Stix you can find and sit the nonbeliever down for the 90-minute Rise of the Guardians, which transforms their favorite holiday mascots into a superhero team worthy of The Avengers. When they see Russian Santa (voiced by Alec Baldwin) fighting off the Boogieman's demon horses with two over-sized cutlasses, they'll be completely reinvested.
For the Grandmother Who Thinks You've Lost Complete Faith in a Higher Power: Life of Pi (Nov. 21)
When it comes to winter holidays, there's a little something for everyone — the highly religious, the secular, and everything in between. But what's almost always true is that, no matter how dedicated you are to whatever path you've picked, your grandmother wishes you were just a smidgen more serious about it. Here's how to win her back: buy two tickets to Life of Pi and enjoy the emotional journey of a boy and his tiger, trapped at sea with nothing but faith. Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) grew up studying Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and was always looking for more. In the end, the movie is more about being human than anything, but should play nicely to whatever world views Grandma has aligned herself with. Crisis averted.
For the Twitchy Cousin Who's a Little Too Into Guns: Red Dawn (Nov. 21)
Was it necessary to bring a crossbow to Thanksgiving dinner? Probably not — but, hey, whatever keeps the twice-removed genealogical link from using the family pet for target practice. If the hunting enthusiast needs a break from the action, take him or her out to Red Dawn, a remake that once again sees high school students forming their own militia to take down invading foreign forces. The 2nd Amendment will not better promoted in 2012.
For Gramps, Who Only Talks About the Good Ol' Days: Hyde Park on the Hudson (Dec. 7)
If Grandpa's 18th consecutive story about walking uphill in the snow without shoes everyday just to get to school (even though he lived in Florida?) starts to grate on your mental state, take the patriarch out for a good time at the nickelodeon with a showing of Hyde Park on the Hudson. The biopic of Franklin D. Roosevelt doesn't dive too deep into the life of the three-term President, opting to let star Bill Murray slather the film with charm. The history and period costuming should win over Grandpa, but the aging Roosevelt's womanizing exploits won't hurt either.
For the Younger Sibling Obsessed with Young Adult Fiction: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec. 14)
Harry Potter has been over for a year. Twilight is over. Beautiful Creatures and The Mortal Instruments don't arrive until next year. What is the young adult fiction addict supposed to do during the dead time of winter?!? Easy: go back to the stuff that shaped the genre in the first place. Remind your family's fantasy-aholic that there was a time before the current YAF Renaissance and take them to the magical world of Middle Earth this winter when Peter Jackson's first Hobbit tale, An Unexpected Journey arrives in theaters. Amazingly, if your little bro or sis is young enough, they may have missed the wonders of the original Lord of the Rings movies
For the Loving, But Slightly Overbearing Mother: The Guilt Trip (Dec. 19)
Moms: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. A family gathering can be a pressure cooker for a mother and child relationship, but luckily this holiday season, Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen have combined forces to deliver the epic tale of familial relationships that should remind us why any holiday argument ends in hugs. A road trip movie that attempts to understand the bittersweet relationship, Guilt Trip, looks like a true cinematic Mitzvah.
For the Soon-to-Be Married Future In-Law: This Is 40 (Dec. 21)
Everyone gets protective over their engaged family members — will this intruder, the "significant other," take care of the family's flesh and blood? It's a typical reaction, and while there will certainly be plenty of dinner table hazing to torture the newcomer, suspicions can be laid to rest by taking the future brother/sister-in-law to Judd Apatow's latest comedy This Is 40. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star as a married couple hitting the 40-year-old mark, a milestone in a marriage's evolution into comfortability. Meaning, there's a significant amount of the couple going to the bathroom in front of each other in the trailer alone. The movie should prove a wake-up call for the soon-to-be-hitched family member.
For the Short Guy in the Family: Jack Reacher (Dec. 21)
No longer will the shortest member of the pack overcompensate at the dinner table with loud jokes and ill-tempered spats. Now we have Jack Reacher, a movie that uses movie magic to defy physical reason and turn 5'7" Tom Cruise into a badass, muscle car-driving antihero. Buckle up with your resident short guy for a holiday ride that should have him or her beaming by the end. Size doesn't matter when Cruise is beating the living daylights out of bad guy Werner Herzog.
For the Crazy Uncle Who Reminds You Why Regional Stereotypes Exist: Django Unchained (Dec. 25)
Holidays manage to reap family members from the furthest branches of the tree, so if (or when?) the kooky uncle you can't recall ever meeting drives his RV right up on your lawn Cousin Eddie-style, remember: there's a movie for the two of you to see and bond over. Catch Django Unchained, which turns Leonardo DiCaprio into a Colonel Sanders-esque Southern gent with a crazy giggle that sends chills down the spine. Whether your uncle laughs at the larger-than-life character or relates to it, you'll at least have talking points afterward.
For the Teenage Cousin with Big New York City Dreams: Les Miserables (Dec. 25)
While most of the family will spend time swapping stories about the ups and downs of reality, there's usually one person whose ambition and innocence balances things out with positive vibes. Sure, it has everyone in the room rolling their eyes, and the jazz hands routinely knock over the three wine glasses, but the teen ends up being the embodiment of the holidays: nothing can get them down! Continue to fuel their dreams — hopeless or not — by taking them to Les Miserables, an adaptation of the Broadway musical that mixes hummable tunes with high drama.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox; The Weinstein Company]
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