Monday, November 21, 2011

Entertainment Options to Give Thanks For

So, what are you doing Thursday?

There are no theatrical performances that I know of locally, although grad students from ISU's School of Theatre are busy rehearsing and building for their production of Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" that opens the following week at Heartland Theatre. When your show opens December 1, you can't really take off Thanksgiving week.

But the rest of us... Well, let's just say that all those shows that opened in the past three weeks* closed this past weekend, leaving a lot of us with nothing much on the agenda for Thanksgiving week. Except eating, of course. And it's true that a lot of people seem to eat all their Thanksgiving turkey and mashed potatoes and then take a nap. (Tryptophan, yay!) But others go to the movies.

That's why the Normal Theater has one of my favorite holiday movies, the Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire vehicle "Holiday Inn" playing on Thursday, right after dinner at 7 pm. "Holiday Inn" features all the holidays, from New Year's Eve through Washington's Birthday and July 4th and, yes, Thanksgiving. The movie is more famous for introducing "White Christmas" to the world, but I distinctly remember Bing noodling through a Thanksgiving song called "I've Got Plenty to Be Thankful For" and picking at a whole turkey served just for him at the remote Vermont inn where he is putting on shows. There is a lot of singing and dancing in "Holiday Inn," which features a socko Irving Berlin score and some excellent Astaire footwork. But there is a caveat on the Lincoln's Birthday blackface scene. It's there for a plot reason, but it's still cringe-worthy in my mind.

So if you are not a Bing or Fred fan and you are interested in Thanksgiving night entertainment, what should you see? "Anonymous," the ridiculous Roland Emmerich movie about how Shakespeare didn't write his own plays and Queen Elizabeth I had a baby with her own son (No, really! That's what it says!) has bombed at the box office and not played at all in Bloomington-Normal as far as I know, so don't think you can entertain yourself by going and mocking it while it airs. Unless you want to drive to the Chicago suburbs.

Closer to home, you can see "Puss in Boots," the animated movie that spins off Antonio Banderas' popular feline character from the Shrek movies. It's playing all over and I've heard from several adults who didn't both to take kids as camouflage that it's actually a pretty fun movie.

The Art Theater over in Champaign is offering "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" for Thanksgiving night. That's the one that features the immortal line, "Khaaaaaaaaan!" from James Kirk.

If you prefer to stay at home and kick back in the recliner, you have a choice of parades early in the day. Starting at 8 am, there's the "Thanksgiving Day Parade" broadcast live from New York on CBS, "America's Thanksgiving Parade" from Detroit on WAOE/Channel 11, and the "McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade"on WGN from Chicago, with the more famous "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade" beginning at 9 am on NBC.

If you see your Thanksgiving as more of a spy thing, you can tune into a James Bond marathon on Syfy, running from 7 am Thursday to 4:30 am Friday.

Thursday evening, there are two Charlie Browns to pick from ("Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown" on Fox at 7:30 pm or "Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" on ABC at 7 pm), as well as "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who," the 2008 animated movie with Steve Carell's and Jim Carrey's voices, on NBC at 7 pm, "The Godfather," parts 1 and 2, showing at various times during the day and night on AMC , "Kung Fu Panda" at 7 on FX, the Christmas movie "Elf" at 7 on USA, and "Wall-E" at 8 pm on ABC Family.

My pick? "Holiday Inn," hands down. It even has an animated turkey and will teach you something about the holiday, about how its date was changed and changed back again by FDR.

*In case you're curious, here's what opened and closed in area theaters between November 1 and November 20: "A Flea in Her Ear," "Angels in America: Perestroika," "Annie," "Assassins," "Circle Mirror Transformation," "Dead Man's Cell Phone," "Hello Again," "Iolanthe," "The Magic Flute," "The Marriage of Bette and Boo," "Sirens," "Way Off Broadway," "Young Frankenstein," and "Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?" That means you could've gone to the theater every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the first three weeks of November and still missed two shows within 50 miles of Bloomington-Normal. And probably more that that are just not on my radar. Tip to theater companies and universities: Stop scheduling everything at the same time. Please?

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