"The Muppets," "My Week with Marilyn," "INNI," and seven other new movies to consider this Thanksgiving weekend

Thanksgiving is only a few days away and with Christmas just a month from now, some of the most anticipated films of 2011 are starting to emerge. Typically Thanksgiving releases are ideal for families to go see in theaters after gorging themselves all day while watching football, and after football is over, theaters will be packed. Sometimes the hardest part once at the theater is deciding what everyone can see. Another option could be that the families that the kids/teenagers see something and the adults will see something—that way both parties are happy with their choice.

Opening Wednesday at local theaters are three big family releases: the new animated film Arthur Christmas; a new film from Martin Scorsese, Hugo; and a hopeful reboot of a treasured franchise, The Muppets, starring and co-written by, Jason Segal (CBS’s How I Met Your Mother).

Another three films open in limited release: My Week with Marilyn, starring Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain) portraying screen legend Marilyn Monroe, opening at the Lagoon Cinema; the German period piece Young Goethe in Love, opening at the Edina Cinema; and the latest downer by Danish auteur Lars von Trier (Anti-Christ, Breaking the Waves), Melancholia, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, and Kirsten Dunst, who won Best Actress at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, opening at the Uptown Theatre.

However, there are another four films opening this Friday. Three of them are music-related, and all three were screened earlier this year courtesy of Sound Unseen. Opening at the Lagoon Cinema is the punk rock father documentary The Other F Word, returning to the Twin Cities after having its Minnesota premiere last May. Opening at St. Anthony Main are Color Me Obsessed, the documentary about the Minneapolis rockers The Replacements and—after selling out its U.S. premiere screening at the Ritz Theater last month—the concert film starring Icelandic band Sigur Rós, INNI.  Also opening at St. Anthony Main is the narrative feature Another Happy Day, starring Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, and rising star Ezra Miller.

Having seen seven of the ten films opening this week, I can tell you they definitely feature a wide array of subjects and it's nothing short of a difficult decision if you’re looking to see something new to theaters. If you want to see a great performance in a mediocre film, I’d recommend going to see Michelle Williams dazzle in My Week with Marilyn, capturing the insecurities of Monroe off-screen, trying to become known as a serious actor rather than a beautiful face. Williams is a marvel to watch, even if the material is too corny and simplistic for my taste. But two other highlights in the film, despite its TV-movie feel script, are the work of costume designer Jill Taylor and production designer Donal Woods, bringing Williams and other cast members—including Kenneth Branagh playing Sir Laurence Oliver—to life decked out in retro clothes and creating a remarkable feel of 1950s England.

If you’re looking to rock out, look no further than INNI, a spectacular black-and-white grainy concert starring the hypnotic Icelandic band, Sigur Rós. If you’re looking to laugh, The Other F Word features hilarious interviews from punk legends talking about life on the road and then returning home to bring their kids to school after returning from a three-month tour; or better yet, if you missed Color Me Obsessed this past May and you're a Replacements fan, this is a must-see. Yes, it's true there is actually no music in the documentary, but it breathes more mystery into one of the greatest rock bands ever, and it doesn’t hurt that they are considered hometown heroes to many.

Thanksgiving Day really is about being with family, though, and you won’t go wrong bringing everyone to see The Muppets, a much-needed reboot of the franchise and an entertaining film for everyone. While I didn’t laugh as much as I thought I would, it does have some wonderful musically numbers, especially a rap number out of left field by Chris Cooper. The movie gives plenty of screen time to my personal favorite muppet Animal, has a number of cameos, and don’t be late in getting to the theater, otherwise you’ll miss what might be the funniest Pixar short yet, Small Fry, an eight-minute short that gives new meaning to "left behind" and "celebrity therapy."

Image courtesy Disney

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Jim Brunzell III's picture
Jim Brunzell III

Jim Brunzell III (djguamwins [at] yahoo [dot] com) was born in the 70's, went to school in the 80's, played sports in the 90's, and has been writing on film for the Daily Planet since 2007.  He is also the Festival Director and programmer for the Sound Unseen Music/Film/Art festival in the Twin Cities, lead programmer for the Flyway Film Festival in Pepin and Stockholm WI, the creator of "The Defenders" series at the Trylon microcinema and has been working on a novel since finishing college.  You can follow Jim on Twitter at (@JimBrunzell_3).