There are a lot of holiday traditions out there and the movies we choose are no exception. When you’ve reached that point where you aren’t sure you will live after stuffing yourself so much, nothing beats curling up on the couch with a film. It’s what I do, every Turkey Day. Here are my five must-watch movies for Thanksgiving!
“Addams Family Values” (1993)
I can’t be the only one who thinks of Thanksgiving as the ugly sister of the winter holidays. Like, it’s great and we all enjoy it but it’s not as fun as Halloween or as pretty as Christmas. Which is why I tend to use November as an opportunity to look over my shoulder at October and Halloween.
“Addams Family Values” provides the perfect loophole. It’s all the fun of the creepy and kooky October favorite, “The Addams Family”, with a more picturesque fall locale and a surprisingly woke Thanksgiving pageant stuck in there.
The original, stellar cast of Raul Julia, Angelica Huston, Christina Ricci, and Christopher Lloyd are joined by Joan Cusack for this hilarious romp. It’s fun for any time of year but lends itself especially well to cold and bleak November.
“When Harry Met Sally” (1989)
“Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the relationship.” It’s the greatest love story ever told and a jewel in Nora Ephron’s quirky rom-com crown.
I know what you’re about to say, “Cait! This isn’t a Thanksgiving movie!”, you may even be constructing a compelling argument that “When Harry Met Sally” is much better suited as a New Year’s Eve movie but hear me out.
There are two crucial elements to Thanksgiving:
- The intimacy of family and friends
- It’s Fall AF, outside.
These two elements also exist in “When Harry Met Sally.” The film features so many cozy scenes of warm but tragically outdated outfits in pleasing neutrals. All against the fiery background of New York in fall. But, more importantly, the film, in general, is just warm and fuzzy. The story and characters are fun and tight-knit and sweet and funny and a little overwhelming. Kinda like family or your best friends or your significant other.
If you really want to fight me on the New Year’s Eve plot point, “You’ve Got Mail” is a suitable substitute.
Is sap not your thing? Are you the intentionally irreverent black sheep of the family that ruins holiday get-togethers? Same. Which is why I highly recommend that you sit down with “Thankskilling”, this holiday.
“Thankskilling” is perfect in its simplicity. A killer turkey does some killing over the Thanksgiving holiday. It also spawned some sequels.
To quote SNL’s Stefan, “This film has everything.” It’s campy. It has gruesome death and gallons of fake blood. It’s “so bad that it’s good” levels of fun. This is the perfect film to bring together good friends for some seasonal brews or to put on as you pass out from a food coma.
“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (1987)
Ah, a classic. The film that you can always find looping on TV over the Thanksgiving holidays. Perfect for the youths and crotchety great-uncle Frank, alike.
In case the message wasn’t clear, “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” is kinda the quintessential Thanksgiving movie. Steve Martin stars across from John Candy, as a man desperately trying to make it home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Still, need convincing? It’s a John Hughes movie.
All snark aside, “Planes, Trains, & Automobiles” is a classic for a reason. It’s heart-warming, it’s funny, and it can appeal to all ages. I find that it works PARTICULARLY well, as a Thanksgiving must-watch, because it acknowledges the holiday but carries with it many of the feelings that leak over into the Christmas season. It almost functions like Black Friday: definitely a Thanksgiving thing, but definitely a transition into Christmas.
November kicks off with Dia de los Muertos in the Mexican culture and, in my mind, that holiday sort of begins the November tradition of family and closeness and good food. In my home, it’s a day of note so I absolutely must include this instant-classic on the list.
For those that do not celebrate Dia de los Muertos and who may be wondering why it still passes muster as a Thanksgiving movie…
“Coco” is by far one of the warmest and best portrayals of family in modern cinema. Heritage and tradition and the familial bond are this film’s bread and butter. It’s all set against this beautiful backdrop of vibrant orange and other bright colors. It’s as pretty to look at as it is effective at tugging the ole heartstrings.
Did we miss any? What’s a family favorite in your household on Turkey Day?
Featured image credit: © 2017 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. Bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.