It is a familiar story: The presents have been unwrapped, the eggnog is long gone, the family piles into the station wagon for a wholesome Christmas movie experience, and then … boom, an unexpected sex scene ruins the whole outing. “Why was that woman making monkey sounds?” ask your young cousins. Your mother blushes; your grandpa offers a particularly inappropriate and uncomfortably personal answer. It does not have to be this way, friends. Here is Vulture’s by-family member guide to this season’s holiday movies, to help you avoid any moviegoing awkwardness.
Parents and Future In-Laws
The three-second bedroom make-out featured in most rom-coms is probably okay, but the allusion to sex is all you want here — anything more (including any nudity) is a no-go. Same with violence, unless you want your mother to start shrieking in the theater and then blame you for her nightmares.
Recommended: Lincoln, The Guilt Trip, Les Misérables, The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Parental Guidance (though beware of real-life parallels and possible fights as a result).
Avoid: Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty (politics + torture = nightmare scenario), This Is 40 (unless you want a long lecture from your dad about the hardships of marriage).
No sex at all; politics aren’t a great idea either, unless you would like to hear your grandfather’s speech about how it was in his day.
Recommended: The Guilt Trip, The Hobbit, Life of Pi, Parental Guidance.
Avoid: Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, This Is 40, Lincoln (that’s an unwanted Obama rant waiting to happen), Les Misérables (the camera tricks will make them nauseous), Silver Linings Playbook (Jennifer Lawrence dates an older man. Someone might get ideas).
Your 20-Year-Old Brother Who Has Already Seen The Hobbit Three Times
Let’s teach him about some new genres!
Recommended: Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, Lincoln (assuming he still has a history requirement to fill before graduating).
Avoid: The Guilt Trip, Parental Guidance, Les Misérables, This Is 40.
Your Teenage Niece Who Has Already Seen Twilight Eight Times
Let’s teach her about non-vampire love stories!
Recommended: Silver Linings Playbook, Les Misérables.
Avoid: Zero Dark Thirty, The Guilt Trip, Parental Guidance, This Is 40.
Your Cousin’s Rambunctious Children
What will hold their attention for two hours and also not make you want to pour fake butter into your eyes? It is the eternal question.
Recommended: Monsters Inc: 3D, Rise of the Guardians, Wreck-It Ralph.
Avoid: The Hobbit (way too long) and everything else.
Your “Fun” Aunt Who Spends Half the Trip in the Bathroom Smoking Weed
She just wants to look at pretty things, okay?
Recommended: Django Unchained, Life of Pi, The Hobbit (but avoid the 48 FPS or else she will flip out on you mid-screening).
Avoid: Les Misérables (the least visually stimulating movie of the year), Zero Dark Thirty (too stressful), This Is 40 (too much of a bummer for a middle-aged pothead).