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

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