Movie Review: Recent rental releases to watch at any Thanksgiving gathering

Sydney Zink, Columnist

Students will be breaking soon for Thanksgiving — or, depending on how one prioritizes, Black Friday. Some of us will be heading home, others visiting friends’ or relatives’ houses and plenty of us will be staying on campus as well. No matter where you are, whom you spend that time with or whichever kind of break you experience, movies are key entertainment for nearly any time off. Here are some suggestions of new releases on DVD, Blu-ray or online streaming for you to watch, organized by the various groups of people you may see over break. The money saved by watching a recent-release rental as a group this Thanksgiving rather than paying to go to theaters will have you really giving thanks.

Friends: “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World” and “Bachelorette”

Is it awkward seeing your old friends back home after so long? Don’t worry. Steve Carell always manages to one-up awkward situations with his own, like the eccentric friend who makes you feel slightly more normal. Also, the supposed end of the world is coming up quickly now on Dec. 21, kind of hidden and forgotten amongst all the Northwestern entries cramming our planners, so at least this movie gives you something timely to talk about. As a bonus, this movie’s implications about companionate dependence on one another may help mend disintegrating friendships and recall memories of your relationships’ high points. Alternatively, if your friendship is still going strong and you simply seek a lighthearted movie for more shared laughs, “Bachelorette” is a hilarious clique-humor movie that’s girl-centered yet oriented to appeal to all viewers in the method of “Bridesmaids” (yet darker than the latter movie).

Older family: “People Like Us”

Though this movie’s foundation lies in touchy familial subjects like a parent dying and a character meeting a sibling he was unaware of having, its strong, highly dramatic script is sure to emotionally captivate you and your family, ultimately bringing you all together more closely.

Younger family: “First Position” and “Hugo”

“First Position” is a powerful docudrama tracing young dancers as they navigate their way into the demanding world of professional ballet, but this film is certainly far from hinting at “Dance Moms.” It teaches lessons of perseverance to young go-getters in families, and it does so in a visually stunning presentation just as committed to creating a flawless performance as the dancers are themselves. I recommend this movie for boys and girls alike, but as an alternative, I also recommend “Hugo.” “Hugo” was last year’s Christmas season movie but is by no means a fallback kind of film. “Hugo” is timeless cinema that, like “First Position,” concerns the value of committing oneself to one’s dreams despite obstacles.

Your boyfriend/girlfriend’s family: “Safety Not Guaranteed” and “Rock of Ages”

Yes, I know “Safety Not Guaranteed” are words no parent would want to associate with their child’s dating life, but beyond that inconvenient coincidence of a title, this movie is smart and engaging without submitting itself to outright crudity (sexually, at least, which is good for your company situation; there is frequent swearing and bar activity nonetheless). You’re all adults here. Don’t worry yourself with kissing up to the family by recommending a G-rated film to appeal to parents’ wish for their kid’s eternal childhood innocence. Your desperate move to please is not fooling anyone. Alternatively, you could watch “Rock of Ages.” Parents’ nostalgia for bands that charge a kidney for comeback/reunion tour tickets may just be enough to distract them from you holding their child’s hand.

For any audience: “Moonrise Kingdom”

This movie is charming, aesthetically beautiful and driven by a very nostalgic, cute plotline of childhood adventure. Though it addresses adolescent sexuality, it does so without being overbearing, instead approaching the theme in a way that has no visual nor verbal offense that would be notably questionable for young audiences. Between Wes Anderson’s signature color palettes, the story’s offbeat romanticism, impeccable casting, Alexandre Desplat’s lovably quirky soundtrack and tasteful humor, this movie may appeal to young siblings and elderly next-door neighbors alike.

Movies to avoid: “The Campaign” and “2016: Obama’s America”

Though certainly funny enough to be worth seeing eventually, it’s not worth seeing in a group at home. Election season is over; therefore, this movie selection may elicit groans from your guests by reviving old tensions from a movie currently too close for comfort to the politics we are all glad to have behind us for now. Along the same lines, don’t rent “2016: Obama’s America,” not only for the aforementioned reason but also because you can’t be so sure what range of political ideologies exist among relatives you likely may not know well in the first place.