We hope everyone’s eating well. If you need a break from family gatherings this week, why not dip into a movie? Strange World is the big Disney movie opening Thanksgiving week, but Seattle’s also got The Fabelmans and a special Thanksgiving Day screening of the recently vintage The Royal Tenenbaums. After the feast, we’re entering the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Try stepping away from the big-biz stores and stopping by GeekCraft Expo’s holiday market. Oh, and sports! Heard of the World Cup? That’s happening, too.
📸: The Royal Tenenbaums
Thursday, November 24 • 7 pm
Right around this time of year, I get an itch to watch Wes Anderson. Specifically, Fantastic Mr. Fox (so maybe it’s a hankering for George Clooney and Meryl Streep). Some might argue that this Anderson classic, based on Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, is the quintessential fall/Thanksgiving movie. It’s not only deliciously autumnal, with vibrant characters, rust, pumpkin, and butter-yellow-tinged landscapes and environments, but it takes place around the heckin’ holiday (although it’s never explicitly said).
But. But, but, but, I’d counter, The Royal Tenenbaums, which was released eight years earlier in 2001, gives the film a run for its money for that title. Both movies feature complicated, kinda sucky father figures, although Royal, the patriarch of the Tenenbaum family, has much more to redeem himself of than Mr. Fox. How he goes about doing exactly that, making amends (or at least attempting to) with his wife and children, and the messy family dynamic in The Royal Tenenbaums is why it’s the perfect Thanksgiving watch. While trademark Andersonesque melancholy, dark humor, and absurdity intertwine throughout the film, it still leaves you satisfied. And if you needed any more convincing, it’s got scarlet-jumpsuit-clad Ben Stiller, a sad, secretive playwright played by Gwyneth Paltrow, and Luke Wilson as a retired, down-and-out tennis player. Also, Danny Glover—I repeat—Danny Glover.
So, if you are having a quiet Thanksgiving this year but still feel like being around people, or you’re craving some family catharsis, consider heading to The Beacon for a warm, emotional evening. TIERA NHEM
📸: GeekCraft Expo
We’re heading into one of the year’s biggest shopping weekends (the Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday retailer extravaganza), so I’m sure your social feeds are drowning in ads. A tip: block those big-biz ads and refocus your eyes on this, a locally focused geek-themed holiday market run by nerds at Magnuson Park Hangar 30.
Geeky couple Daniel Way and Kimberly Matsuzaki hosted the first GeekCraft Expo in 2016, focused on showcasing nerdy makers and their quality wares—like knitted Totoro hats, sparkly board game dice, kraken carved out of redwood, etc etc etc. It’s grown into a national event, with upcoming expos in Minneapolis, Portland, and St. Louis.
For geeky gift-hunters in Seattle, GeekCraft’s holiday market kicks off Friday, November 25, with an early bird event limited to 500 attendees. The main days happen on Saturday and Sunday, with a cheap entry fee of $2-$5, depending on when you buy. Go and get your baby a hand-knit Yoda. CHASE BURNS
📸: US Soccer
Friday, November 25 • 11 am
The George and Dragon in Fremont is going all out for the World Cup. With the games being in Qatar—ugh, time zones—the George is opening at 4:30 am from November 21 to the 28. If you’re trying to experience some real soccer culture while rooting for the US Men’s National Team (USMNT), abandon your Black Friday plans and grab a spot at The George before the sun even rises. Smack talk with some Brits. Recycle stale Revolutionary War jokes. Eat fish n’ chips for breakfast. Nothing says it’s World Cup time like pretending you’re in Europe.
This World Cup, the USMNT is on its Reputation Tour. They sucked so badly last World Cup they—embarrassingly— didn’t even qualify. The tournament begins in the group stage where the US will play against Wales, England, and Iran. To advance to the knock-out round, the USMNT needs to finish top two in the group. They’ll have an easier first match-up in the next round if they finish first.
According to FIFA rankings, the US ranks just above Wales and Iran. Logically, these should be winnable games, but if there’s one thing I know it’s the USMNT’s capacity to crap the bed and not deliver. Negativity aside, the game against England should be tough and exciting! If the USMNT squeaks out a draw, that’ll be great news and bode well for a USMNT appearance in the next stage, the Round of 16. NATHALIE GRAHAM
📸: Bellevue Botanical Garden
Opens Saturday, November 26
Garden d’Lights want to remind you that you are always a kid at heart. The Bellevue Botanical Gardens transform into a land of light and magic during the holiday times, and it’s a labor of love. It takes over 6,400 hours and 11 months to bring to life. There ain’t nothing cookie-cutter about it. Sure, there are reindeer, Santa, snowmen, and flakes of snow at those other places. Been there, done that. At the Garden, get ready for a biologically correct sea animal display, a field of corn, a winery, and more—all made from lights. Folks, that’s special.
Mark your advent calendars for November 26. Every day from then until December 31 (except Christmas Day), the place offers the chance to illuminate your little life and keep warm with hot cocoa sold onsite. Bring your best friends and film a TikTok. Spend time with your grandpa and ask him about his favorite Christmas memory. For the couples out there, stroll hand in hand and kiss near the brand-new snail feature (so romantic!). For $8 a ticket (free for kids 10 and under), it seems a pretty good deal. Buy tickets ahead of time here and arrive a little early to avoid crowds. Keep the jolly times going with Snowflake Lane, just a 10-minute drive away. HAYLEE JARRETT
📸: 5th Ave | Mark Kitaoka
Runs all weekend!
Everybody look around, ’cause there’s a reason to rejoice, you see. It’s The Wiz, the 5th Avenue Theatre’s latest family-geared holiday spectacular. A soul, R&B, and gospel retelling of The Wizard of Oz with an all-Black cast, The Wiz’s original Broadway production won seven of its eight 1975 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical. Three years later, it became a Sidney Lumet film starring Diana Ross (they aged Dorothy up for the movie to be Harlem schoolteacher), Nipsey Russell, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, and Lena Horne.
I spoke with associate artistic director Jay Woods, who also directed last season’s sensational Beauty and the Beast, to get more info on this brand-new production. “This is the first time The 5th is creating an original staging of The Wiz by an almost entirely local cast that is wildly talented,” Woods said. “It’s great for the whole family and is something to share in community during the holidays.”
The production boasts direction and choreography by Twin Cities-based theatremaker Kelli Foster Warder, who choreographed previous 5th Ave shows Annie (2018) and the stripped-down revival of Flaherty and Ahrens’ Ragtime (2017), one of the most emotionally stirring things I’ve seen on that stage. “Warder and her team have dreamed up such a specific and joyous world for this very special production,” Woods concluded. “I hope audiences will be wrapped up in that love and joy. It is certainly a blessing to have this show here in Seattle.” MARCUS GORMAN
All weekend at Ark Lodge Cinema and other theaters
Despite the captivating trailers for this movie, I worry Strange World may pass audiences by when it opens Thanksgiving week. It’s not that Disney needs to catch a break—They own Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and even consumed 87-year-old studio 20th Century Fox in 2019 for $71.3 billion, and god forbid you get cornered by a “Disney Adult” at a party (me, I’m like 60% Disney Adult), so what’s an underperformer here and there?
That’s a shame, because Disney’s non-franchise animated movies are where the exciting work lives. At the very least, they stick around in my head. An outer space version of Treasure Island with David Hyde Pierce as a dog astronomer and Emma Thompson as a cat captain, plus songs by John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls? A police procedural about how we demonize the unknown for shady government reasons, all taking place in an anthropomorphized animal world with Shakira jokes? (I may just like anthropomorphization, come to think of it.)
Strange World, which reunites director Don Hall and Qui Nguyen after 2021’s vibrant Southeast Asian adventure film Raya and the Last Dragon, is about the Clades family of explorers as they discover, well, strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no family has gone before. Vocal performances come from Jake Gyllenhaal, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, and writer/comedian Jaboukie Young-White (Rap Sh!t). MARCUS GORMAN