It is in these unprecedented times that we all want certainty the most. Films give us that. The fact that there are so many movies on vacation almost cements the fact that we crave certain norms. Given the current state of the world, which is changing the way we look at pretty much everything, it is not surprising that this is having an impact on the way we think, plan, and deal with cinema and Thanksgiving.
Everything now has rules in a way they have never done before … especially gatherings like Thanksgiving. How many people can we have? How long can you be there? These are the questions everyone plays on vacation, because who hasn't enjoyed watching a little football and a few films with family and friends? All of that will be a little different this year, but one thing will still be the same … the movies. Well, at least the ones on this list don't change!
The really interesting thing about Thanksgiving movies is that most of the classics aren't even Thanksgiving movies in and of themselves. Most of the time, there really is just one or two incredible scenes that are so powerful that they spread the Thanksgiving cheers throughout the movie. With the world in a shape most people reading this have never seen, and Thanksgiving has more curveballs than an MLB game, take comfort in the fact that we have 15 movies you will definitely be in will feel a lot better no matter where, how or with who you stream them.
Planes, trains, and automobiles
Starring Steve Martin and John Candy as a strange couple just trying to get home for Turkey Day, this classic was an instant classic when it was released in 1987. It's the classic road trip film in which two polar opposites have to rely on each other to achieve a common goal. In doing so, they have to live together, think together, and almost be killed together if they experience life in different ways. This film never really shows much of a Thanksgiving Day. That's not what the movie is about. The idea seems to be that in life, travel is the reward and that it doesn't matter what is best spent together than alone. Great movie, but the greatest of all Thanksgiving movies.
Although John Hughes did not lead Dutch, it came from the same mind as the man who created planes, trains and automobiles. Both films share a very similar plot, with a mismatched pair of travelers trying to make it home for turkey dinner. And it proves that Hughes had a certain purpose for the vacation. In this coming-of-age comedy, worker Dutch (Ed O & # 39; Neill) dates the divorced Natalie (JoBeth Williams) and offers to evict her constipated 13-year-old Doyle (Ethan Randall) from his private school in Atlanta to his mother's house in Chicago for Thanksgiving. Doyle isn't interested, as he blames Natalie for the divorce and doesn't want anything to do with mom's new boyfriend, especially given the man's humble working-class roots. This pairing makes for a journey full of arguments, mishaps, and ultimately bonds. Although there were a lot of bad reviews at the time, and Roger Ebert complained that John Hughes was just repeating himself, Dutch has become a favorite vacation comedy.
All right, Rocky is a prime example of a Thanksgiving movie that isn't a Thanksgiving movie. In fact, the Thanksgiving scene in this movie doesn't culminate in a big sitting. It culminates in the turkey being thrown out the window. Rocky is the quintessential American story about a price fighter who amazingly gets a title shot and gives the champion his life. Ultimately, maybe that's a microcosm of what Thanksgiving really is? A time when everyone can eat and celebrate humanity if they have a chance on a (somewhat) level playing field. Or maybe it's really more like the Thanksgiving scene. In this case, it's an excuse for families to meet up and yell at each other.
The blind side
While it is now easy to view this movie as some kind of simple, feel-good family film, you will likely have a hard time finding someone who isn't (at least a little) moved by the Thanksgiving scene on The Blind Side. Again, this is not a direct Thanksgiving movie, but it is a well-done story by director John Lee Hancock. It focuses on Leigh Anne Tuohy and how she brought Michael Oher, a homeless high school boy, home to her. Ultimately, their care and belief in him led to Oher becoming a first choice in the NFL. Okay, the scene where Oher (Quentin Aaron) unwittingly leaves the family at the table instead of watching football on TV is done with simplicity and is not a mark of harshness. This could be the perfect Thanksgiving movie.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
On Black Friday, Cop Thanksgiving from every single film plays in the Paul Blart Mall. The following story describes Paul Blart (Kevin James) as a simple security guard in a shopping mall who just wants to become a police officer. If the mall is taken over by some criminals on Black Friday, it's up to Paul Blart to save the day and make us laugh in the process. Okay, this movie might not be brimming with Thanksgiving, but it certainly reminds us of why we love this vacation so much. Sure, the family is great, and so is a senior citizen, but Paul Blart: Mall Cop really does shed light on Black Friday. This great Thanksgiving movie really shows us how rightly or wrongly the holiday and the post-holiday are intertwined.
You got an email
On and around Thanksgiving, You & # 39; ve Got Mail has everything we want in a vacation movie. It's the colors, the soft light, and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as a couple that inadvertently come together. Through online correspondence, they find that they are attracted to each other (although they don't know who the other person is online – at least at first), in reality they hate each other. The fact that they are both in the same business selling books doesn't make things much better between them. With all that said, the Thanksgiving cheers are shining through and this romantic comedy (though not sleepless in Seattle) is still a great movie to watch on vacation.
Home for the holidays
Holly Hunter makes headlines in this delicious Thanksgiving movie that is shot in the heart of many family gatherings … dysfunction. When her daughter arrives for Thanksgiving with her new boyfriend, Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) goes home to spend the vacation with her family … alone. Larson's family is full of quirks and is populated by actors like Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, and Steve Gutternberg. The comedy is rich, the joke bitter, and the comical exhilaration of all these families and personalities in one place is palpable. Directed by Jodie Foster Home For the Holidays, the anti-Thanksgiving film. Sure, it impales the family dynamic (and almost everything else), but this contemporary story ultimately has its heart in the right place.
Grumpy old men
Again, not a movie all about Thanksgiving, but it certainly has a Thanksgiving feel to it. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau play two strange old men who happen to be after the same woman Ann-Margret played. The relationship between Lemmon and Matthaus characters is already deteriorating, leading to many scenes that should make Thanksgiving attendees smile. Thanksgiving moments also appear in this film, they just don't dominate it. Grumpy Old Men is given up by Burgess Meredith rather than Lemmon's grandpa to moments of shock conversation, pranks, and some funny one-liners.
Scent of a woman
Centered around Thanksgiving, Scent of A Woman features a Thanksgiving scene that is awkward, brutal, and absolutely necessary to the story the film tells. Al Pacino (in a performance that earned him an Oscar) plays the quirky Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade. He will be looked after over the holidays by the student Charlie Simms (Chris O & # 39; Donnell). We quickly see that Frank is in charge and after a very annoying Thanksgiving dinner, Charlie realizes how unhappy Frank is. Scent of A Woman is one of the best slow-burning vacation movies out there, mixed with life lesson moments, poignant scenes, and ultimately an affirmation of life (and friendship).
Reflecting the idea that early settlers come to this land for better life, Avalon is a classic American tale of fresh starts. The Kaye family, compromised by Polish Jews, came to the USA at the beginning of the 20th century. Different generations live under this roof, and we see them adapt to American culture over generations. After two hours and eight minutes, this is clearly a worn-out story. However, there is a Thanksgiving scene that easily puts this movie in the top Thanksgiving movies. Everyone was packing up in one room and complaining about when to eat, kids complaining about the food, family tensions are brewing … the scene is magical! "You cut the turkey ?????" Avalon is a film that all families can watch during this grateful time.
Hannah and her sisters
Woody Allen might not be the go-to for vacation movies, but Hannah and her sisters, like it or not, are largely a Thanksgiving movie. The story is part of a love triangle told over two different Thanksgiving celebrations between Mia Farrow, Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey. The past few years have not been the best for Woody, but you would be hard pressed to find a better relationship movie that goes so well with Thanksgiving. Hannah and her sisters, with their well-drawn characters, poignant storylines, and biting view of human interactions, are both a character study and a character reveal, and a truly blue Thanksgiving movie, one of the film masters.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
What would a vacation be without Charlie Brown? A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is a classic peanuts story, even if it doesn't have as many seals of approval as A Charlie Brown Christmas or It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In this story, Peppermint Patty leads Charlie Brown's indictment for a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving feast. Of course, nothing is that simple in the world of Charlie Brown, and that's why our lovable main character is often frustrated. What if you think about it, it seems to be a common theme between loved ones from Thanksgiving through Christmas!
The great cold
Old friends who get together to explore old times are usually a great time … in real life. It starts out great in role life, but then the layers are peeled off, old scars become visible and suddenly things go from rosy to ragged. In The Big Chill, a couple of friends meet for a lost weekend that comes right after a funeral for their boyfriend from college. "Okay," you may be wondering, "In that downer of a movie, where's the Thanksgiving cheer?" It appears in retrospect and casts a small shadow over all film sequences. The Big Chill is and is not a vacation film. That doesn't mean it can't evoke enough emotion to remind us that we should be thankful for things.
The war at home
This 1996 ignored story, directed by Emilio Estevez, is a rich character study of the impact the war had on everyone … not just those who fought in it. Estevez co-stars with his father Martin Sheen and Kathy Bates in this 2-hour long film. He plays a soldiers' home after fighting in Vietnam, and we'll see how he has an even bigger fight ahead of him when he returns. Even the fact that a Thanksgiving celebration is looming on the horizon doesn't help lessen the tension that lies so close to the surface with these characters. On top of that, Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday for many and you have a movie that's great simply because it undermines expectations.
Addams family values
Uncle Fester is madly in love with a woman named Debbie, but his family knows she's no good in this sequel to the 1991 hit. Why is Addams Family Values one of the Greatest Thanksgiving Movies of All Time? Well, that has all to do with a speech Addams (Christina Ricci) gave on Wednesday that essentially called for Native American treatment. There is debate about how immoral it is to celebrate Thanksgiving, and all of this becomes even more amazing because this scene is set in a permanent family movie. As a pure movie, Addams Family Values doesn't offer the best movies of all time. As a Thanksgiving movie, that speech and the general humor of the movie make it one of the best you can see this season.
Funny People is a funny Adam Sandler movie that hits you like a punch in the stomach. The film sees Sandler as a comedian who is diagnosed with an incurable disease and who has about a year to leave. He befriends another comedian who is played by Seth Rogen and they both form a very interesting friendship and business relationship. Again, you might be wondering, "Yeah, that sounds great, but where the hell is Thanksgiving?" Funny People has a Thanksgiving scene that turns this comedic movie on his ear. Sandler's character, George, makes a toast that underscores the importance of cherishing the time we can spend with the people we care about. This changes the tenor of the film, which, given its main plot points, was likely heading for a big change anyway. While Funny People is perhaps the least of all the Thanksgiving films on this list, he has the last laugh with his unique look at how people behave during the holidays.
Longtime Movieweb contributor who uploaded 1-minute movie reviews to the internet via AOL before Youtube or social media. I make tons of direct movies that you can find on Amazon & Vimeo. DVDs are back and I like it!