Thanksgiving often gets overshadowed because it is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas. There are a plethora of movies about those holidays, but what about Thanksgiving? Not very many movies have been made about the turkey holiday, but there are some good ones out there. Here are five Thanksgiving movies that are worth seeing.
Planes Trains and Automobiles
Directed by the late, great John Hughes and starring the late, great John Candy, as well as Steve Martin, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” is a hilarious comedy about a good-natured but rather stiff businessman named Neil Page (Martin) who is trying to get home to his family in time for Thanksgiving. Neil has been on a business trip to New York City. After a series of misadventures, Neil meets shower ring salesman Dell Griffith (Candy). Neil reluctantly teams up with Dell as they try several different hilariously unsuccessful attempts to get home to Chicago. The two men have polar opposite personalities, but they gradually become friends. John Hughes was mainly known for teen movies – and he made some great ones – but “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” proves that he was more than capable of making an adult comedy. Martin and Candy both deliver wonderful performances.
Planes Trains and Automobiles Trailer
Hannah and Her Sisters
One of Woody Allen’s most famous films, “Hannah and Her Sisters” stars Michael Caine, Mia Farrow, and Allen himself in a comedy about three sisters. Although it's not really Thanksgiving-themed, the film does begin and end with Thanksgiving dinners. Allen plays a neurotic, insecure man who is constantly pondering the meaning of life. Caine portrays Hannah’s husband, who is secretly having an affair with Hannah’s pretty sister, Lee (Barbara Hershey). Meanwhile, Lee is involved with a much older professor named Frederick (Max Von Sydow). Finally, there is Hannah’s other sister Holly (Dianne Wiest), a former drug addict and failed actress who is seen as the “loser” of the group and desperately wants to impress her sisters and win their respect. She eventually develops a relationship with Allen’s character, Mickey. One of the strength of Allen’s films, at least the older ones, is the authentic-sounding dialogue. These characters don’t sound like they are reciting lines from a script – they sound like they are actually having genuine conversations.
Hannah and Her Sisters Trailer
The Ice Storm
A darker film than the others on this list, “The Ice Storm” is set on and around Thanksgiving 1973. It is about two dysfunctional Connecticut families and how their lives are affected by the then-current political climate and by a horrific ice storm that occurs on Thanksgiving night. The film stars Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, and Elijah Wood. It follows its collection of deeply flawed characters as they try to cope with the turbulent times of the early ‘70s by getting drunk and cheating on their spouses. Their actions are mimicked by their bitterly cynical teenage children (played by Maguire, Ricci, and Wood). However, a tragic event during the ice storm changes everyone’s lives. This is NOT a feel-good movie and probably won’t be what most people would want to watch during the holiday season. The trailer below makes it look more light-hearted than it actually is. However, if you are in the mood for something with more of an edge, “The Ice Storm” is a good choice.
The Ice Storm Trailer
Pieces of April
"Pieces of April" star Katie Holmes as April Burns, a rebellious twentysomething living in a run-down New York City housing project. She decides to invite her family over for Thanksgiving dinner and, with the help of her devoted boyfriend Bobby (Derek Luke), attempts to cook a delicious turkey dinner. Unfortunately, her efforts are hampered by several misadventures involving a broken oven, eccentric neighbors, and a stolen turkey. The film also chronicles the journey of her father Jim (Oliver Platt), terminally ill mother Joy (Patricia Clarkson, who was nominated for an Oscar), and brother and sister as they make the long trip to New York. Viewers of the HBO series "The Newsroom" will recognize Allison Pill and John Gallagher Jr., who play April's younger siblings. This very low budget film looks like it was shot with somebody's home video camera, but it's surprisingly involving. The cast delivers standout performances.
Pieces of April Trailer
Home for the Holidays
Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) is having a rough time. She was just fired from her job after kissing her boss and her daughter Kitt (Claire Danes) has told her that she is going to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. If that wasn't enough, Claudia is going to have to deal with her dysfunctional family over the long Thanksgiving weekend. Her traditionally-minded sister Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson) and openly gay brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.) are constantly at each other's throats, while her parents Henry (Charles During) and Adele (Anne Bancroft) try to overcome their own idiosyncrasies to keep the holiday get-together from completely unraveling. By the end of the weekend, against all odds, Claudia manages to mend her familial relationships (well, some of them) and gain a more hopeful outlook for the future.
This is a fun little feel-good holiday flick. The dialogue reminds me of a Woody Allen film, although he had nothing to do with this movie. The film is notable for having two actors in supporting roles (Claire Danes and Robert Downey Jr.) who have since become well-known. It was directed by Jodie Foster.
Home for the Holidays Trailer
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