Thanksgiving, generally the time of year we all get together for an awkward family meal and watch a bunch of large character themed balloons and marching bands parading along Manhattan streets before turning the TV to football. But what if you wanted to trade in the ‘ol pigskin for a few Thanksgiving movies to watch this turkey day?
Sandwiched between the fright fest that is Halloween and the warm feelings of Christmas, Thanksgiving is the forgotten stepchild of holiday movies. Sure there are movies referencing Thanksgiving and maybe even depict the tradition of sitting down for that awkward meal, but few actually focus on the event itself. When putting our list together we were aiming less Die Hard and more for Gremlins in covering this holiday spectacle. And of course, absolutely no Turkey after midnight.
Home for the Holidays
After making out with her soon to be former boss then losing her job Claudia is headed home for the holidays to see her dysfunctional family on Thanksgiving. As secrets get exposed and family rivalries play out, a spark of love begins in this cult classic mid 90s film starring an all-star cast of Robert Downey Jr, Holly Hunter, Claire Daines, Dylan McDermott, Charles Dunning, Steve Guttenberg and Anne Bancroft directed by Jodie Foster.
Jodie Foster wrote a letter praising Robert Downey Jr for his performance in the movie but warned he was on a forgiving set and that his heroin use during any other movie production would likely end in disaster for his career.
You can’t get more Thanksgiving than this 2013 3D animated film about a Turkey trying to warn his fellow Turkey’s about what happens to them during the Thanksgiving feast. Reggie, voiced by Owen Wilson, is captured by Jake, voiced by Woody Harrelson, to go back in time and stop Turkeys from being added to the first Thanksgiving menu. This sci fi comedy is a perfect edition to your Thanksgiving watch list.
Three Star Trek regulars in Original Series’ George Takei, The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine’s Colm Meaney and Voyager’s Robert Beltran provide voices for the movie.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
This Written and Directed John Hughes film sees a comedic dream pairing of Steve Martin and John Candy as Neal Page and Del Griffin; a hard working high strung marketing account executive and a semi-loveable oaf working together to find their way back home to Chicago to their families for Thanksgiving. Personalities collide and as they work their way through planes, trains and yes automobiles to get home. The twist at the end of this comedy will have you in tears.
This movie is rated R, most likely because of Steve Martin’s car rental tirade in which he throws out the F-bomb 18 times in 60 seconds.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before, It involves two characters who start out disliking each other on a road trip to Chicago to get home in time for Thanksgiving. This time it involves Dutch, played by Ed O’Neill, a working class down to earth guy who tries to impress his girlfriend by picking up her insufferable snobbish son Doyle, played by Ethan Embry, from a Georgia boarding school and bringing him home. After hijinks ensue, Dutch begins to bring out the kid in Doyle.
If it sounds familiar that’s because it was written by John Hughes, who decided not to direct it because of its similarities to Planes, Trains, and Automobiles which was released 4 years earlier.
Pieces of April
This dramedy showcases a post Dawson’s Creek, pre Batman Begins, Katie Holmes in the titular character of April, the black sheep of the family who lives in a small apartment in New York City. Trying not to disappoint her family again she desperately roams from apartment to apartment begging neighbors to let her cook the turkey in their oven after realizing hers is broken.
With only a $100,000 filming budget, the cast consisting of Oliver Platt, Katie Holmes, Derek Luke, Sean Hayes, Allison Pill, and Patricia Clarkson received only $248 a day.
Navigating the intricacies of family discussions over Thanksgiving is always difficult, especially when the country is highly divided and your views just happen to go against most of those from the family. In a time where the United States is asking its citizens to sign an oath of loyalty by Black Friday Chris Montana, played by Ike Barinholtz, tries desperately to stay away from political discussions that can have a major impact on him and his wife, Akai Albert, played by Tiffany Haddish.
The Oath that creates the basis for this movie is modeled after the Truman Loyalty Order of 1947 and Levering Act of 1950. Both of which were enacted due to the red scare from the Soviet Union and both allowed government agencies to overstep their boundaries.
California crazy meets the heartland in this zany Thanksgiving film about Crawl, played by Pauly Shore, coming home to meet his soon to be in-laws. As you might expect, Pauly Shore ramps up the antics, at first offputting, but eventually winning the family over before controversy calls the wedding off.
Son In Law is Pauly Shore’s highest grossing live action film as a lead at the box office with $36 million in 1993. Only Encino Man, where he was a supporting character did more business.
If none of these are your style you could always watch the classic A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and then watch the Lions get beat once again.