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

crime japanese TCA 2017 stoner hollywood dogs Star Wars a nightmare on elm street FOX HBO Go ABC Signature ratings YouTube Red Cannes Disney+ Disney Plus doctor who composers spy thriller WGN 72 Emmy Awards Lucasfilm Food Network Crackle ID discovery TBS Disney Plus Hallmark Dark Horse Comics Martial Arts YA Stephen King Super Bowl theme song DC Universe TNT disaster Vudu docudrama BBC One Rom-Com IFC war Musicals sequel Tumblr Hear Us Out E! Pet Sematary Captain marvel medical drama ITV archives Sundance slashers science fiction Best and Worst stand-up comedy HBO Max CMT festival Calendar 4/20 PlayStation 2018 werewolf Funimation pirates of the caribbean Endgame Extras comic books Travel Channel Star Trek cooking Emmy Nominations Summer independent The Walking Dead fast and furious Ellie Kemper Awards Tour Fox Searchlight worst Peacock A24 period drama Thanksgiving justice league Showtime FX on Hulu Disney Channel Interview Paramount Plus cults Nominations Photos psychological thriller Tubi History thriller The Academy christmas movies unscripted OneApp TCA Nat Geo directors video on demand cars jurassic park foreign Apple Sci-Fi Black Mirror Academy Awards LGBT football X-Men halloween rom-coms USA PBS 20th Century Fox casting Avengers Comic Book IFC Films black Syfy fresh Reality CW Seed adaptation blockbuster breaking bad BBC America Comedy Central franchise Year in Review comiccon Watching Series Universal Mudbound social media australia worst movies green book WarnerMedia Mindy Kaling teaser news classics Amazon Prime Amazon Studios movies all-time VH1 movie Premiere Dates Writers Guild of America 2016 Reality Competition video Holiday ABC Family Hulu kids game of thrones strong female leads Ovation Warner Bros. comic serial killer Columbia Pictures Country transformers cancelled television ABC Film mutant zero dark thirty Fantasy Spectrum Originals documentary boxoffice Alien BAFTA police drama OWN cops die hard BBC aliens Hallmark Christmas movies Musical Bravo criterion President Logo child's play television El Rey ghosts stop motion dragons critics best 21st Century Fox laika dceu LGBTQ 007 TIFF 45 TV Land biography nfl 99% Awards rt archives comedies nbcuniversal Lifetime romantic comedy VICE spider-man true crime Superheroe technology halloween tv Turner Classic Movies Infographic superhero FXX diversity Trailer MSNBC spanish Podcast Polls and Games women Pop Teen Cosplay Music golden globes San Diego Comic-Con concert films scary movies Red Carpet Box Office GIFs richard e. Grant Election 2019 Certified Fresh miniseries YouTube Premium cinemax trailers DirecTV mission: impossible game show American Society of Cinematographers crime drama First Look south america 2015 Biopics National Geographic hispanic Drama screenings indiana jones 24 frames psycho Lionsgate TV Binge Guide Quiz politics Apple TV Plus Pixar festivals Sundance TV cartoon BET Winter TV nature GoT Holidays FX witnail Nickelodeon YouTube indie New York Comic Con Mystery Britbox Character Guide romance political drama CNN Paramount Network Mary Tyler Moore boxing USA Network Action Western Superheroes Disney streaming service Tomatazos toronto sports Anna Paquin APB space dc anthology See It Skip It screen actors guild Shudder crossover name the review documentaries jamie lee curtis Brie Larson DC Comics Cartoon Network Emmys Comedy joker free movies singing competition TV One AMC obituary GLAAD Rock scorecard reboot universal monsters Opinion children's TV based on movie supernatural Pirates Oscars Set visit Schedule Animation streaming Starz Fall TV sequels award winner Classic Film SDCC Horror cats Netflix Christmas movies Film Festival DC streaming service french 71st Emmy Awards The Purge Video Games Sneak Peek rotten movies we love canceled chucky Trophy Talk TCA Winter 2020 deadpool Chernobyl Valentine's Day Apple TV+ adventure Mary Poppins Returns MTV The Walt Disney Company Netflix rotten crime thriller Grammys TCM First Reviews SXSW cancelled TV shows TruTV The Arrangement zombies Lifetime Christmas movies spinoff 2017 spain italian Spring TV Black History Month golden globe awards series Comics on TV E3 CBS The CW Walt Disney Pictures what to watch Mary poppins asian-american Song of Ice and Fire anime NYCC Marvel Studios TLC Marathons Spike remakes satire HBO spanish language Television Academy animated CBS All Access toy story Trivia Ghostbusters binge sitcom Television Critics Association Discovery Channel Sony Pictures VOD MCU Marvel Television james bond facebook Disney Rocketman Women's History Month Masterpiece PaleyFest Baby Yoda cancelled TV series BET Awards Epix Pride Month Rocky Christmas tv talk book Sundance Now hist Kids & Family Family Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt harry potter Chilling Adventures of Sabrina canceled TV shows travel Elton John SundanceTV NBC dramedy Tarantino Crunchyroll parents renewed TV shows talk show TV renewals dark twilight Freeform versus blaxploitation TCA Awards The Witch finale Turner Heroines Creative Arts Emmys vampires A&E Marvel Winners quibi Amazon Prime Video venice Arrowverse sag awards Acorn TV RT21 batman robots 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards historical drama Amazon RT History Esquire Pop TV Fox News Paramount DGA Toys emmy awards latino ViacomCBS Adult Swim ESPN Shondaland reviews Countdown elevated horror natural history mockumentary comics revenge cancelled zombie 2020