There’s no better way to cope with the bloat after an indulgent Thanksgiving feast than to settle in to watch a holiday movie marathon. Just like the many side dishes available on the holiday table, a Thanksgiving film is perfect for everyone’s taste.
Those who want to stick to something traditional and family-friendly should turn on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, while those who are looking for something that represents their family anxiety experiences during the holidays may prefer the complex dynamics of April’s Katie Holmes-front indie Pieces. To fans who want something parallel to the holiday instead of concentrating on it, there is the famous rom-com You’ve Got Mail, perhaps the only film that turns a Zabar’s Thanksgiving shopping trip into a pivotal plot point in a budding romance.
Here are the best Thanksgiving films to watch this holiday season, from romantic and heart-warming to funny and side-splitting.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Football, friends, and a skillfully planned impromptu feast by Chefs Snoopy and Woodstock — consisting of buttered toast, pretzels, popcorn, and jelly beans — are the ingredients that make up this heart-warming classic cartoon about exercising gratitude during Thanksgiving.
Yeah, Rocky’s boxing, but there’s so much more to it. Family conflict leads to love for Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) after the angry older brother of Adrian, Paulie (Burt Young), tosses the turkey she cooked out of the back door for Thanksgiving. But don’t worry; Rocky saves the holiday by taking Adrian out for a sweet date to the ice skating rink.
The Last Waltz (1978)
The Last Waltz documentary by Martin Scorsese captures the legendary farewell performance by the Canadian-American rock band The Group, recorded on Thanksgiving Day, 1976. Not only The Band was featured in the concert, but guests such as Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Ringo Starr made a classic concert film.
The Big Chill (1983)
While The Big Chill is not specifically a Thanksgiving movie, it has many of the themes of the holiday (gathering with loved ones, the eruption of cooling disputes, planning and sharing a meal), and a nostalgic flashback scene that takes place during a past Thanksgiving.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Through Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, John Hughes ‘ buddy comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy, anyone who has had travel problems during the holidays will relate and hopefully laugh. The pair faces several hilarious challenges related to transportation in a race to get Martin’s character home with his family in time for Thanksgiving.
Addams Family Values (1993)
Leave it to the Addams family to make a cheeky critique of a vacation while celebrating it at the same time. On Monday in the Thanksgiving camp, a snobbery frenzy will portray white settlers and Indian Americans in one of the most memorial scenes of the now-worshiped Addams family value. Wednesday is the time to play Christina Ricci. Playing an anachronistic Pocahontas on Wednesday, and other oppressed camp kids who cast as Native Americans, use extremely problematic stereotypes as they reflect a group to which they do not belong. Finally, though, they are giving a broader colonization rebuke.
Home for the Holidays (1995)
Claudia Larson, the single mother of Holly Hunter, is unable to catch a break ahead of Thanksgiving in Home for the Holidays. Since losing her job, kissing her ex-boss, and being distracted by the holiday plans of her precocious daughter, the last thing Claudia wants is a family drama, which is, of course, what she gets when she gets back to the house of her father.
The House of Yes (1997)
Thanks to volatile whims of Parker Posey’s zany “Jackie-O” in The House of Yes, it’s a seriously twisted Thanksgiving for the Pascal family. In this kooky holiday movie, jealousy, incest, borderline personality disorder, and Jacqueline Kennedy obsession are all served with a healthy dose of camp.
The Ice Storm (1997)
Thanksgiving is a turbulent affair for the inhabitants of Connecticut’s frozen suburban neighborhood, both literally and figuratively. Ang Lee’s adaptation of the novel of the same name is a darker choice of Thanksgiving film that focuses on infidelity, alcohol abuse, and sexual exploration. Watch actress bio
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
While one would believe that the best holiday moments in You’ve Got Mail center around Christmas, given the bookstore’s caroling, tree-trimming, and Christmas shopping. It’s important to remember that Thanksgiving plays a vital role in establishing the relationship between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s rival-turned-internet paramours. Hanks ‘ character rescues Ryan from the wrath of a cashier and her fellow shoppers in a memorable moment on Thanksgiving while in line at the iconic New York deli store, Zabar’s.
What’s Cooking? (2000)
The holiday is observed in their way and with their unique rituals by four families from four different cultures, all facing their interpersonal conflicts. Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Julianna Margulies, Alfre Woodard, the drama stars of Gurinder Chadha