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

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