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Thanksgiving Movies

Updated on November 21, 2014

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" poster
"Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" poster | Source

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" poster
"Hannah and Her Sisters" poster | Source

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" poster
"The Ice Storm" poster | Source

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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    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Yeah I've heard of Pieces of April, it has Katie Holmes in it, I have never seen it though. I have Home for the Holidays in my Netflix queue. I've heard that is a good one!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      It is surprising that there aren't more movies about Thanksgiving. I can't think of any to add to the list, but the Ice Storm sounds interesting to me. I have reserved it from the library! While I was there, I looked up Thanksgiving movies, and they had Pieces of April as a choice. It's also a comedy so I thought you might be interested in it. Voted up.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thanks, hawaiianodysseus and everyone else who has commented! Odysseus, yeah definitely check out The Ice Storm! I hope you enjoy it! I am actually planning to rewatch it soon, I'm supposed to get it from Netflix in the mail.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      You, sir, have quite the picks one day, movie reviews another day. Your Hubs are wonderful reads, and this one was no exception.

      I also like the touch of integrity in that you only reviewed movies you'd actually seen and not just read about. Good for you!

      The Ice Storm sounds interesting...I'll go check it out!

      Thanks, Bill!

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Nanderson, I am telling you again, you should be a movie critic! Great movies and you have great taste. Love Hannah and her Sisters, and of course, the Ice storm. Planes, trains and automobiles is excellent! You could have included one more, Home for the Holidays with Holly Hunter and Iron Man, Robert Downey, Jr. Great!!!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Plains, Trains and Automobiles has to be the best Thanksgiving movie! The hilarious John Candy was magnificent.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Geekdom - I thought about Charlie Brown but I haven't seen that movie in forever so I don't remember much from it.

      RichieMogwai - Yeah The Ice Storm is a great movie.

    • RichieMogwai profile image

      Richie Mogwai 5 years ago from Vancouver

      Thanks for your hub. Yeah, the Ice Storm, that's a great movie, it's one of my favorites actually. More than anything, I appreciate the honesty in that movie. Toby Maguire of Spiderman fame is truly and unforgettably soooo natural in the film.

    • Geekdom profile image

      Geekdom 5 years ago

      I was curious what movies were going to make this list. I forgot Trains Plains and Automobiles was about Thanksgiving. I always lump it in with Christmas, probably because of the snow.

      Would Charlie Brown count since it is a made for T.V. movie?