Thanksgiving is one of the great American traditions. A perfect holiday made up of food, family, football and movies. What’s not to like? Well, for starters, the local grocery store is always running out of cranberry sauce, families spend more time arguing than eating, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are eternal losers, and the big movies of Thanksgiving are generally hard to come by.
We can’t help you with the first three issues, but we’ve dug in and found a few movies worth watching while on vacation. Check out the list below!
Dutch, one of John Hughes’ lesser productions, finds Ed O’Neil ferrying Ethan Randall from Georgia to Chicago over the Thanksgiving holiday. Predictably, the trip goes awry, leading to a crazy series of episodes that somehow bring the duo together. While the film plays mostly like a John Hughes Greatest Hits album, filled with BB Guns, crotch kicks and an abundance of goofy drops, Dutch nonetheless entertains in spades. Put it after the main course.
Home for the holidays
Jodie Foster directed this forgotten 1995 holiday dramedy starring Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr, Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Claire Danes and the Guttenberg. Well-acted and directed, Home for the Holidays gets lost trying to store both sides of the aisle, leaving us with comedy lacking in laughs and drama lacking in the requisite emotional payoff. Still, there are enough great moments to make this low-key family drama worthwhile.
You know the choices are slim when a forgettable Ben Stiller comedy from 2011 pops up on the list. Alas, this all-star affair starring Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Michael Peña and Téa Leoni has enough laughs and action to hold the attention for a few hours. Sadly, there isn’t much on the Thanksgiving display, but the image centers on the Thanksgiving parade and ends on a hopeful, positive note. Murphy alone is worth the price of admission; expect nothing more than mediocre entertainment and you will have a great time.
This first comedy-drama from director Peter Hedges’ The Aughties stars Katie Holmes (in her best role) as April, a poor girl who invites her estranged, dysfunctional family over for Thanksgiving. As April struggles to prepare the meal with the help of other tenants in her building, her family makes the trip to New York and re-explores past family issues along the way. Sweet and funny, with a touching ending that will likely produce a lump in your throat.
Hannah and her sisters
by Woody Allen Hannah and her sisters chronicles the lives of several people — namely Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her sisters Holly (Dianne Wiest) and Lee (Barbara Hershey) — between three separate Thanksgiving holidays. Like most of the Allen projects, the film tackles several important issues – suicide, love affairs, regrets, drug addiction – but also offers light humor and enough holiday cheer for those looking for positivity over Thanksgiving weekend.
Michael Caine won a well-deserved Oscar for his efforts.
Planes, trains and automobiles
While the list above offers a solid mix of comedy and drama, all of the entries pale in comparison to the John Hughes classic. Planes, trains and automobiles. Starring Steve Martin and John Candy, the film chronicles the tumultuous journey taken by big-hearted Neal Page (Martin) and Del Griffith (Candy) to get home in time for Thanksgiving. Hughes, who wrote and directed, carefully ramps up the hilarious mayhem but never loses sight of the intimate relationship between the characters that elevates the film to extraordinary heights. One of the best holiday movies ever produced.
Other Thanksgiving movie recommendations:
Judd Apatow’s overly long and bloated comedy-drama isn’t necessarily about Thanksgiving, but features a terrific scene set during the holidays in which the entire cast – Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Jonah Hill, among them – meets to discuss the importance of appreciating the time we have on this tiny blue planet.
The ice storm
Ang Lee’s powerful drama is set over Thanksgiving weekend, but it’s definitely not the type of movie to watch with the family. However, if you’re looking for an incredibly well-acted, dark and moody drama, this is the one for you!
Dan in real life
Dan in real life looks like a Thanksgiving movie, even though it’s not a Thanksgiving movie. Maybe it’s the family reunion, the warm finale, all the food, or maybe we really like Steve Carrell, but we won’t judge if you introduce this one on your second slice of pie. pumpkin.
Addams Family Values
Those looking for goofy dark humor should enjoy Barry Sonnenfeld Addams Family Values, which features a sequence in which Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) recreates the first Thanksgiving at summer camp. This scene alone makes the film interesting.
You’ve got mail
Another not really Thanksgiving movie that looks like a Thanksgiving movie, You’ve got mail stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as rival bookstore owners who unknowingly engage in an online relationship. The results are mundane and simplistic but fun.