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Video Rewind: Thanksgiving Gems

Updated on November 20, 2017
Thanksgiving takes its toll on Holly Hunter in "Home for the Holidays"
Thanksgiving takes its toll on Holly Hunter in "Home for the Holidays"

Getting to Know Thanksgiving Again

In the not so distant past, the fourth Thursday in November was considered a holiday.

The holiday was referred to as Thanksgiving and traditionally began the holiday season. Well, the times they have changed and while the day is celebrated with much less fanfare than in the past, I thought it would be a good way to remember this holiday by offering up a few movies which celebrated the day.

Of course the week of Thanksgiving has always been a hectic one and trying to get home to family has always been a priority. That theme was explored in the 1987 comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles as Steve Martin desperately tried to get from a business trip in New York to Chicago. It only took a few days and with an unlikely travel companion in John Candy. No matter how hard Martin tried to get home, Candy was also trying to get home and that's how the two became unlikely travel companions.

Consumerism also comes into play in Down and Out In Beverly Hills (1986) when the wealthy Whiteman's (Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler) gather together with friends and family to celebrate the holiday. Dave (Dreyfuss) is more concerned which neighbor has the biggest turkey from the catering company they use as dysfuntionality reigns at the dinner table. While the Whiteman's are living it up, their soon to be homeless houseguest, Nick Nolte, is frantically searching for his lost dog. When he goes into a restaurant asking people if they've seen the dog the rich look down at him with disgust (obviously the Whiteman's turkey forced the restaurant to open since the restaurant is packed to capacity with no other bird in sight). I've always found this restaurant scene to be the saddest in the movie as no one seems to care about the dog. The "beautiful shallows" are only there to be seen.

I've never had to travel for the holiday, but Holly Hunter gives a preview of what's to come as she travels Home for the Holidays (1995) to spend it with her parents. On the plane she calls her brother (Robert Downey, Jr.) and wishes that he could be there since she doesn't want to face the family alone. Plus she needs a shoulder to cry on. She's just been fired then learns her daughter is planning on losing her virginity at some point over the weekend. Dysfuntionality reigns supreme in this Jodie Foster directed film.

Between the Carver's and the Hood's in The Ice Storm (1997) it's hard to tell which family is more dysfunctional. Neighbor's Ben Hood (Kevin Kline) and Janey Carver (Sigourney Weaver) are having an affair, Ben and Elena's daughter, Wendy (Christina Ricci) begins to explore her sexuality with the Carver boys (Elijah Wood and Adam Hann-Byrd) and Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire) wants to lose his virginity to Libbets Casey (Katie Holmes). While an excellent film taking place in 1973 during an ice storm, the film is character driven with each character telling a story during this tragic holiday weekend.

While "tragic in nature" for Hope Davis in The Daytrippers (1996) this story starts the day after Thanksgiving when Davis (as Eliza D'Amico) is cleaning up the bedroom and comes across a mysterious note. Feeling insecure she goes over to her parents to figure out what the note means and the family decides to take a trip into New York to confront Eliza's husband Louis (Stanley Tucci). As a publicist for a publishing company, he's already told Eliza that he won't be home due to a party. Eliza knows something isn't right and while the family (Pat McNamara, Anne Meara, Parker Posey) try to decipher the note, they look to Jo's boyfriend (Liev Schreiber) for possible answers. During their day in the city, they come across an assortment of people who make the story even more interesting as each adds their input into what the note might mean.

The law doesn't take a holiday when it comes to working the Night Shift (1982) for Shelley Long.

As Belinda Keaton, it's been a rough few weeks. Her pimp's been murdered and as an "independent woman" she's arrested for assault and battery. Her only hope of getting out of jail is to call neighbor Chuck Lumley (Henry Winkler) to come and bail her out. He doesn't have a problem with it, but, it's a bad time since his mother, fiancée and her ultra religious parents are just getting ready to have dinner. Feeling sorry for her, Chuck takes the guests to night court where Belinda pleads her case and because of this outing, Chuck's life starts to take a drastic turn from morgue attendant to pimp.

As everyone knows Thanksgiving eve is the most popular bar night since it's time to deal with family, but if you want to make a lot of money take Laurel Ayres' advice (The Associate 1996) and attend the hottest charity event. Although it may not be the night before Thanksgiving, she takes Aesop Franklin, a software developer to the event and he becomes the hit of the fundraiser with investors lining up. This is probably one of Whoopi Goldberg's best movies and it's just plain fun.

With so many retailers having to work on this holiday and in the coming weeks, take some time out to enjoy your Thanksgiving. Even if it's through the eyes of Hollywood.

As Thanksgiving gets closer, you may want to revist these movies and you'll be glad you did.

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