How to Cure 7 Holiday Ailments at the Multiplex
The season can cause plenty of minor headaches. Here are some big-screen antidotes.
Despite all of our cultural mythmaking, the realities of the holiday season often fail to live up to our Norman Rockwell dreams. Maybe Hollywood is to blame; on the big screen, Christmas always ends with a miracle.
So if the movies caused the problem, let’s let them solve it. Here are seven cinematic solutions to your cold-weather woes, designed to keep you blissfully popcorned up until the New Year. All of the below films are anticipated to play at theaters throughout the region (though release dates are subject to change, particularly during Oscar season).
Problem: Your children are having difficulty grasping the fact that they don’t get presents until the actual holidays.
Solution: Give them an early gift: A trip to see Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” on opening night (Thanksgiving Eve). It’s the second film from the can’t-miss studio in 2015, following the acclaimed “Inside Out,” and speculates on how the giant lizards might’ve evolved had no asteroid ever wiped them out. (Hint: They learned to talk, obviously enough). Most of Pixar’s offerings are truly delightful for all ages, and there’s no reason to suspect that “The Good Dinosaur” will break that trend.
Problem: The thought of Black Friday shopping makes you punchy. That is, you’d literally like to punch someone.
Solution: Please don’t actually punch anyone. Watch the excellent young actor Michael B. Jordan do it in “Creed,” also out on Nov. 25. As Adonis Creed — son of Rocky Balboa’s foe turned friend Apollo — Jordan seeks the Italian Stallion’s guidance as he looks to forge his own legacy between the ropes. It’s a de facto reboot of the franchise (though Sylvester Stallone reprises his role) that hopes to bring a more grounded, dramatic story to the ring.
Problem: It’s less than a week into December, and you’re already sick of carols, decorations and seasonal miscellany.
Solution: Observe some yuletide vengeance in “Krampus,” a horror comedy based on German folklore. See, in certain parts of Europe, Saint Nicholas has an evil counterpart, Krampus, a sinister demon who shows up to punish those on the naughty list. The film will be directed by Michael Dougherty, who previously helmed the cult horror favorite “Trick ’r Treat,” and a portion of 2015’s ScareHouse was based on the movie. “Krampus” will be released on Dec. 4.
Problem: The price of gifts has you questioning capitalism as a whole.
Solution: Get a somewhat tongue-in-cheek recap on the 2008 financial crisis via “The Big Short,” a star-studded adaptation of Michael Lewis’ 2010 nonfiction book. The movie follows the few analysts who anticipated the collapse and bet against the market — and, knowing the weight of its subject matter, does so with plenty of humor. You won’t feel any better about the economy, but at least you laughed, right? “The Big Short,” which arrives Dec. 11, stars Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling.
Problem: If you see one more piece of official Star Wars merchandise, you’re going to start screaming at the night sky.
Solution: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right? And no matter how sick of droids and wookiees you are by Dec. 18, it’s not like you were ever going to skip the most anticipated film of the decade. Get your tickets for “The Force Awakens” now, however; sellouts are anticipated throughout opening weekend, and reports this week indicated that more than $50 million worth of tickets had already been sold a month before opening day.
Problem: You have complicated feelings about the National Football League.
Solution: Further muddy the moral waters by watching “Concussion,” the locally-shot drama about the NFL’s big head-injury problem. Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered the condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy along with other Pitt researchers in the early 2000s. Speaking of local notables: Albert Brooks will portray Dr. Cyril Wecht. “Concussion” will be released on Christmas Day.
Problem: You don’t celebrate Christmas, but you still want a seasonally appropriate flick. Preferably one with some swagger.
Solution: It’s the opposite of a winter wonderland: Eight rough customers, most with ample reason to distrust one another, become snowbound in a Wyoming cabin. “The Hateful Eight,” Quentin Tarantino’s second straight western (after “Django Unchained”), features an ensemble cast including Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Demián Bichir and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Despite Tarantino’s rough P.R. as of late, there’s no question that has recent track record has been stellar. "The Hateful Eight" premieres Dec. 25.