Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Films

I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs and the writer lamented the lack of good Thanksgiving movies. She then wrote about how The Road has filled her Thanksgiving film void I have had this same dilemma and over the years found a few films that I enjoy at Thanksgiving.*

*Please note I adhere to a strict Christmas movie watching policy. This is to ensure that Thanksgiving is not totally overrun by Christmas. "No Christmas film may be watched until the night of Thanksgiving when the desserts have been eaten. Christmas films may be watched up to and through New Year's Day, but not beyond. There is an exception for Christmas films to watched on a single day during the month of July if it is in conjunction with a Christmas in July themed celebration.

An American Tale

This is one of my favorite childhood films. It tells the story of an immigrant family coming to America in search of a better life. I have always thought of Thanksgiving as the day we celebrate our own pilgrimage to America. An American Tale captures this spirit, plus leaves you singing about the lack of felines in America for days.

Pieces of April

Pieces of April is a little known indie film about a family's black sheep hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Katie Holms gives such a superb performance you forgive her for what ever she was thinking marrying Tom Cruise. Oliver Platt (who is one of those actors that should be in everything) and Patricia Clarkson both fulfill their life calling of being among THE FINEST SUPPORTING ACTORS IN THE WORLD. If you have not watched it I highly recommend adding it your November festivities.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

A great road movie with Steve Martin and John Candy. If you have ever endured a terrible Thanksgiving travel mishap (usually involving flying US Airways. I once spent a night in Phoenix for no earthly reason) this movie will resonate. It is not cerebral, but it is a classic.

Nobody's Fool

This is the perfect melding of legendary actor given an excellent story, sharp dialogue and genuine human emotion. Resulting in Newman's final Oscar nomination. In Nobody's Fool Paul Newman's son and grandson will be visiting for Thanksgiving allowing Newman a shot at redemption. If you have not seen this before I highly recommend it.

Hannah and Her Sisters

I am a big Woody Allen fan, so it should be no surprise to see Hannah and Her Sisters listed here. Hannah and Her Sisters is a film bookended with Thanksgiving dinners and spans the entire year between. The film is about family dysfunction, neuroses (Aren't all Woody Allen films?), and the never ending search for happiness. It is one of Allen's stronger movies and would be required watching for anyone wanting to better understand Allen's films.

Alice's Restaurant

The movie is not that great. It is based on an amazing Arlo Guthrie song about people going to Alice's for Thanksgiving dinner, throwing out garbage, getting arrested for littering and thus avoiding Viet Nam. The movie could have been amazing, but it is not. I include it because you should listen to the song on Turkey Day, and maybe watch the film if you have nothing better to do.


This movie was written by John Hughes (Breakfast Club, 16 Candles) and stars Ed O'Neil (Married with Children, Modern Family). It, like many Thanksgiving films, is a road story about Ed O'Neil trying to impress his girlfriend's son by picking him up from boarding school and driving him home for Thanksgiving. As you might have guessed they don't get along making up the bulk of the weak story. I liked it as a kid, Ed O'Neil is genuinely fun to watch in most anything and if you are involved with step parents or parents dating this film may resonate more with you than it does with me, but I liked it as a kid so it made the list.

Remember the Titans**

Because Thanksgiving is also about football. Remember the Titans also could be seen as two groups of different people coming together much the same way the Pilgrims and the Native Americans did, but that may be a stretch.

**I had originally written about Rudy, but the the Irish beat the living hell out of my Utes so they get no love on my blog for at least a week.


B. [Von] Plothow said...

Ahhh Alice's Rest. Classic. I once used that song in a class presentation.

Jodie Smith said...

Alice's Restaurant is worth watching just for the Joni Mitchell moment. I always makes me cry.
Hey. . . What about Charlie Brown Thanksgiving? I love that.

Mik'L said...

I will have to try "pieces of april" since I've never heard of it. LOL about Rudy.

Kari said...

I've only seen one of those movies. Sad. I need to rent some. My favorite Thanksgiving movie is Home For The Holidays. LOVE Holly Hunter.

Janey said...

I love lists about great things. So thanks for the list! Excited to see 'Pieces of April'.

Britta said...

Tom must have read this first, because our Netflix que was already updated when I went to do it myself.

I've never been one to associate movies with Thanksgiving so we'll see if we can get a tradition going.