For me Thanksgiving has always been about Detroit Lions football, good food, and family.
But that’s not to say that there aren’t some fond memories of the occasion watching something other than Football. The following list of films are those that are, at least in part, dedicated to the last Thursday of each November. Now, being sandwiched in between the 2 days that have inspired the most movies - Halloween and Christmas - doesn’t leave us with the widest selection, but there is cerainly no shortage of quality.
And right as we get started I would just like to give an Honorable Mention to How I Met Your Mother’s ‘Slapsgiving’ episodes…
And now on to our favorite Thanksgiving movies:
10. Grumpy Old Men
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau worked together in 10 different films (as the leads in 8 of them), and while The Odd Couple is probably the most respected, for people under the age of 35, I’d wager that Grumpy Old Men is the favorite. In this one, they play feuding neighbors whose rivalry heats up even more when Ariel Truax (Ann-Margret) moves in across the street and they both fall for her. Hijinks obviously ensue and it all takes place around Thanksgiving, which though not the focal point of the movie, certainly captures the spirit.
IMDb: “A lifelong feud between two neighbors since childhood, only gets worse when a new female neighbor moves across the street.”
Oh Pauly Shore, you are truly a symbol of the ’90s. In this classic, Pauly Shore teaches a whole town how to have fun over the Thanksgiving holiday.
IMDb: “Having gotten a taste of college life, a drastically changed farm girl returns home for Thanksgiving break with her best friend, a flamboyant party animal who is clearly a fish out of water in a small farm town.”
What list would be complete without a murderous turkey carving up college kids? Even the synopsis understands the root of the movie’s greatness.
IMDb: “A homicidal turkey axes off college kids during Thanksgiving break.”
7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Charlie Brown owns pretty much every holiday, with Thanksgiving being no different. The Peanuts crew celebrate the holiday in their own much-loved way.
IMDb: “Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving, and with Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he attempts to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner.”
I know a lot of people don’t associate this movie with Thanksgiving, but hey – that’s Rocky and Adrian’s first date. Pauly is drunk, wrecks the turkey and old Rock takes his future wife ice skating. It’s the events that transpire here that lead to 5 more movies after this featuring Adrian…or her grave.
IMDb: “A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.”
5. Home for the Holidays
Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr. play siblings who come home for Thanksgiving and show just how dysfunctional most families really are.
IMDb: “After losing her job, making out with her soon to be ex-boss, and finding out that her daughter plans to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend, Claudia Larson has to face spending the holiday with her family. She wonders if she can survive their crazy antics.”
4. Pieces of April
One of the few non-comedies on the list, Pieces of April was a movie I found to be profoundly moving and really hits the meaning of Thanksgiving. Katie Holmes gives maybe her best performance and Patricia Clarkson was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in here. This is also probably the least well-known movie on the list, unfortunately. Check it out.
IMDb: “A wayward daughter invites her dying mother and the rest of her estranged family to her apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.”
3. Addams Family Values
The Addams Family Values spans more of the year than just the holiday season, however one of the more memorable Thanksgiving scenes ever was the summer camp re-enactment of the first Thanksgiving, in which Wednesday gives it a bit of an Addams rewrite…
IMDb: “On any day of the week, you could expect a newborn baby to be nurtured and loved by his older sister. Except, of course, if it’s Wednesday. Pubert is the latest addition to the Addams family and, to prevent sibling rivalry escalating to fratricide, Wednesday and Pugsley are shipped off to summer camp and a nanny is hired. Debby Jellinsky is great with wrinkling baldies, which makes her the perfect nanny for Pubert and the unlikely wife of Uncle Fester. The question is…”Is she grave-digging or gold-digging?”
John Hughes really did own the ’80s and beginning of the ’90s. Dutch was towards the end of his run and didn’t star any of the Brat Pack, but it took Ed O’Neill off the Bundy’s couch and taught Ethan Embry some respect…
IMDb: “To get to know his girlfriend’s son, a man volunteers to pick him up from a prep school….only to learn that her son’s not the nicest kid.”
1. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
And the single greatest holiday movie of all time – including Halloween and Christmas – is another Hughes classic. This time Steve Martin and John Candy star in a heartfelt, moving, and hilarious ‘road trip home’ flick. From shower curtain earrings to melted credit cards, they never make it easy on themselves. This is a must-watch film that is sure to become a tradition on your television, if it isn’t already.
IMDb: “A man must struggle to travel home for Thanksgiving, with an obnoxious slob of a shower ring salesman his only companion.”
Of course, there’s also this (FOLLOWING TRAILER IS NSFW)…
Happy Thanksgiving Geeks!
Image: Paramount Pictures