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Bad Movie Tuesday: Dr. Thanksgiving Movie Strategy or: How to Prevent Your Cinephile Cousin From Pushing 2001: A Space Odyssey on a Family Full of Turkey

November 20, 2012

Turkey, family, football and television. Millions of American’s will stuff themselves full of mouth watering morsels then retreat to the confines of their trusted couch, futon, love seat or bean bag chairs. Once seated the tryptophan will leave the person in a tired daze of contentedness and coma like symptoms. They will reach for the remote and in front of them will be a plethora of family oriented cinema to dull their senses and prepare them for the inevitable pecan pie topped with whipped cream. The images will pass in front of them in a mixture of consumerism, family values and most likely Nic Cage conveniently finding a bowl of lemons in National Treasure.

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After a 5k Turkey Trot, touch football game or surprisingly competitive match of backyard badminton couch time is expected and deserved. Your senses will be dulled, your hands pruiny from washing hundreds of dishes and your aunt will be talking about her kids with adjectives like beautiful  funny, fantastic and potentially incarcerated. So, watching Inception, Memento or Usual Suspects will be too much of a sensory overload to absorb while the cranberries are settling in your stomach. In the middle of the film you don’t need your brother complaining about Dicaprio or your Grandma wondering why the well dressed fella is fighting a guy whilst upside down. You will need a film that you can watch in between naps, friendly conversations and games of Uno where you are convinced your Great Grandma is out to get you.

The best Thanksgiving movies are watchable good/bad films that offer moments of ludicrous brilliance and epic moments of dumb. Who wants to watch Kubrick on Thanksgiving? Pushing 2001 on Thanksgiving is like introducing Bon Iver at a Keg Party. The outcome will feature confusion, booing and a potential outbreak of an a capella version of Livin on a Prayer. The reason bad films are good is that they will be perfect background for a bustling home and provide something for you to chat about other than what the next five years of your life will look like.

Movies like The Replacements, The Waterboy, National Treasure 1 & 2 , Major League 2, The Three Musketeers, Gone in 60 Seconds, Die Another Day, The World is not Enough, The Rundown, Walking Tall and Yes Man will prevent long diatribes and television fatigue. Are these films good? The answer is no. However, they feature Nic Cage driving fast, Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist and Orlando Bloom’s saucy hair. You can go on a walk, come back and still understand what is going on. Do you need to watch these films? No. However, it might get you thinking about putting aside your deluxe version of Blade Runner and focus on movies that will allow you to converse with your family and not bore them with making of documentaries. Most importantly it will keep you from showing your family Malibu’s Most Wanted because you saw it once and thought it was funny.

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All of these movies are watchable background fodder that won’t dominate the conversation or open a window for your pretentious cousin to discuss why Raging Bull is the greatest Scorsese film (I am a Goodfellas fan but find Departed the most rewatchable). Most importantly they won’t create any awkward moments that American Pie, Hot Tub Time Machine or Black Dynamite would create. Imagine putting on the VHS of Roadhouse and having this happen to you (funny read).

Are there good background movies to watch on Thanksgiving? Yes, Goldeneye, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Invincible, The Goonies, Talladega Nights and Plane, Trains and Automobiles are all suitable for your cinema needs. However, you don’t want every other conversation interrupted to hear what funny thing will be coming from Will Ferrell’s mouth or what shenanigans John Candy will get himself into it. The movies I recommended work because they are perfectly forgettable.  I once watched The Replacements without ever realizing it was on.

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