A Day to Give Thanks (for Good Thanksgiving Movies!)

by | November 24, 2005 | Comments

The Newsday column gets to take a few days off during the big holidays, but I couldn’t let today go by without offering our friends a handful of Turkey-day treats. If you’re looking for a holiday-appropriate movie to watch with the family while all your turkey and stuffing is digesting, feel free to pick one (or more) of these Thanksgiving-centric flicks.

Home for the Holidays — Written by "Buckaroo Banzai" scribe WD Richter and directed by the multi-talented Jodie Foster, "Home for the Holidays" is absolutely stuffed with great actors. Sort of a less slapsticky and more realistic version of "Christmas Vacation," it’s about a stressed-out woman (Holly Hunter) who returns to the roost to enjoy(?) a manic Thanksgiving dinner with her entire extended family. Even if the movie stunk (which it so absolutely does not) it would be worth seeing for a cast that includes Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Robert Downey Jr., Dylan McDermott, Steve Guttenberg, Claire Danes, Austin Pendleton, David Strathairn, Cynthia Stevenson, and Amy Yasbeck. (Tell me that wouldn’t be a fun crew to eat turkey with.)

Pieces of April — This endearing 2003 indie from Peter Hedges ("About a Boy") stars Katie Holmes as an estranged daughter who invites her skeptical family for a Thanksgiving feast at her tiny little apartment. One half of the film sees April’s family struggling to make it in time for dinner, and the other half deals with poor frazzled April as she desperately tries to build an edible turkey dinner. In addition to some of Ms. Holmes’ very best work, "April" also features fantastic performances from Oliver Platt, Patricia Clarkson, Derek Luke, and Sean Hayes.

What’s Cooking? — From director Gurinder Chadha ("Bend It Like Beckham") comes this tale of four separate families, and the various preparations they make to have a solid Thanksgiving affair. Jewish, African-American, Vietnamese, and Latino families populate this holiday charmer, and the cast is another stellar ensemble: Dennis Haysbert, Alfre Woodard, Joan Chen, Mercedes Ruehl, Lainie Kazan, Maury Chaykin, Kyra Sedgwick, and Julianna Margulies keep the guest list colorful, and there’s plenty of wit, wisdom, and warmth (and even a few surprises) in this holiday treat.

Hannah and Her Sisters — Opening and closing with a pair of Thanksgiving dinners, the heavily-ensembled Woody Allen comedy is still considered one of the director’s very best films. Winner of three Oscars (for screenplay and the performances by Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest) and a nominee for four more, "Hannah and Her Sisters" is a razor-sharp and hilariously insightful story about one extended family and the non-stop stress the relatives cause one another. Also on board are Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Carrie Fisher, Max von Sydow, Julie Kavner, Daniel Stern, Maureen O’Sullivan, Joanna Gleason, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Even the hardcore Woody-philes consider this one of his finest screenplays.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles — If it’s me you’re asking, PT&A is the #1 finest Thanksgiving movie ever made, mainly because it’s "about" nothing more than finding a way to make it home for the holidays. Steve Martin and the late, great John Candy star as a pair of astonishingly mismatched traveling partners who’ll stop at nothing to make it home in time for some turkey. (For my money, this is John Hughes‘ finest film, just barely ahead of the teenage trifecta of "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club," and "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.") Featuring tons of laughs, lots of great sights along the way, and a sweet-natured finale that always makes my eyeballs a little moist, "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" is a comedy classic for any season … but it really does work best in November. (If you’re watching this one with the family, please be sure to cover the kiddies’ ears when Mr. Martin arrives, unhappily, at a car rental kiosk. Trust me.) Also keep eyes peeled for hilarious little cameos by Kevin Bacon, Martin Ferrero, Dylan Baker, Michael McKean, Edie McClurg, and Ben Stein.

So there’s my Turkey Day quintet. Sorry for leaving "Son in Law" off the list, but I was doing "best Thanksgiving" movies and not "least awful Pauly Shore movies." (Maybe we can do that one on Pauly’s birthday.) Anyway, on behalf of everyone here at Rotten Tomatoes, I’d like to wish all our readers, and their friends & relatives & acquaintances & pets & non-annoying co-workers, a very safe & happy holiday. And if I left out any of your favorite Thanksgiving movies (there really aren’t all that many!), feel free to leave ’em in the comments section. We’ll need five more for next year!

Tag Cloud

werewolf Premiere Dates FX YouTube Premium Cosplay directors Brie Larson X-Men Turner Classic Movies Turner Comics on TV book anime HBO series CW Seed Crunchyroll Writers Guild of America 71st Emmy Awards 2019 anthology green book Horror Spring TV Lucasfilm Tarantino Countdown award winner latino Awards Infographic comiccon game of thrones The Walking Dead disaster zombie BET President cats Super Bowl First Reviews Warner Bros. TV Land HBO Max Avengers Chilling Adventures of Sabrina what to watch cancelled TV shows Disney Plus National Geographic Photos VH1 ghosts game show Hulu Shudder Grammys spy thriller 21st Century Fox Extras cops CBS All Access Sundance TV Star Wars biography San Diego Comic-Con cars versus A&E renewed TV shows Captain marvel screenings quibi Character Guide Oscars Superheroes Apple Musicals IFC zombies casting discovery FXX Columbia Pictures police drama 45 batman DirecTV Shondaland diversity Election Paramount Network Thanksgiving YA Pet Sematary independent cancelled television TNT singing competition Esquire Hallmark Christmas movies Elton John Quiz OWN Marvel RT History Drama CBS Holiday name the review blaxploitation TLC Endgame APB Sundance Now Ellie Kemper DC Universe Ovation TV Nickelodeon sequel richard e. Grant Martial Arts First Look Freeform Opinion Tumblr Winter TV Spectrum Originals Paramount ABC period drama Best and Worst Action natural history Binge Guide Tomatazos Anna Paquin Certified Fresh Pixar Fox News 2015 Academy Awards Box Office adaptation Holidays medical drama A24 Syfy SDCC DC streaming service Amazon Prime GoT Nat Geo Discovery Channel robots Women's History Month toy story sag awards adventure streaming NYCC TruTV kids spanish language comics elevated horror facebook Spike Rocketman vampires Comedy The Purge Mary Poppins Returns spider-man Year in Review 2016 Comedy Central hist Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt political drama Interview indie Disney Channel LGBT binge USA Network Polls and Games cults based on movie festivals Calendar Winners Sneak Peek TCA 2017 Toys Kids & Family 2018 reboot 20th Century Fox NBC mutant finale free movies Nominations The Witch foreign Pride Month Podcast Logo Food Network Showtime Heroines Mary poppins GLAAD blockbuster nature harry potter Marvel Television SundanceTV supernatural Star Trek Disney+ Disney Plus Summer MCU christmas movies Western Chernobyl joker E! MSNBC GIFs thriller ITV Vudu LGBTQ Sony Pictures Reality romantic comedy Trivia screen actors guild doctor who ABC Family DC Comics teaser Rom-Com Britbox travel Cartoon Network WGN American Society of Cinematographers hispanic 007 spain cartoon Sundance dramedy Superheroe transformers Biopics ESPN Television Academy Baby Yoda true crime crime thriller WarnerMedia TCM talk show Rock Rocky DGA Classic Film Universal Crackle Country cinemax Watching Series Video Games romance social media movies canceled TV shows Lifetime Christmas movies Arrowverse Amazon canceled Marvel Studios aliens TIFF Amazon Prime Video space dc New York Comic Con rotten movies we love miniseries Peacock History E3 tv talk Walt Disney Pictures AMC Trailer Starz Mary Tyler Moore Disney 24 frames BBC Fantasy Awards Tour Animation Trophy Talk sports Epix Emmy Nominations theme song USA CNN animated television Emmys CMT VICE Disney streaming service witnail technology breaking bad Hallmark Song of Ice and Fire revenge Music BBC America Netflix Christmas movies Netflix justice league Comic Book The CW dragons TV renewals war The Arrangement PaleyFest Lifetime YouTube Red Reality Competition unscripted sitcom science fiction Cannes south america comic Ghostbusters RT21 Adult Swim Film Festival politics SXSW PBS Red Carpet composers Creative Arts Emmys golden globes Mudbound halloween cancelled docudrama Family Lionsgate TCA IFC Films Musical dceu psycho OneApp FOX crime drama 2017 Mindy Kaling zero dark thirty jamie lee curtis children's TV strong female leads TCA Winter 2020 El Rey Pirates Valentine's Day Teen mockumentary video Black Mirror serial killer cooking historical drama MTV spinoff Mystery psychological thriller crossover Film Tubi Christmas ratings Pop Schedule Stephen King Apple TV+ TBS Apple TV Plus cancelled TV series Fall TV YouTube Dark Horse Comics boxoffice Sci-Fi Marathons Bravo slashers See It Skip It Masterpiece 2020 Acorn TV crime Set visit stand-up comedy