Thanksgiving Movies That Aren’t Turkeys

Let’s face it.  When it comes to holidays, Christmas gets all the love.  There are more movies about Christmas than any other holiday.  This year alone, Hallmark is set to release an unprecedented 37 Christmas movies and they began airing them before Halloween.  Meanwhile, the only movie about Purim that I know of is Home For Purim, the movie within a movie in For Your Consideration.  Even though some of the best movies of the year often come out on or around Thanksgiving (Toy Story, Home Alone, Frozen, The Muppets reboot, An American Tail), there are few movies dedicated to this annual American holiday.  I present you with three Thanksgiving movies well worth your time.

First up is the most well-known of the three, 1987’s Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  In a departure from his usual teen fare, John Hughes wrote and directed this dark comedy about the frustrations of traveling during a holiday weekend.  I feel lucky to have been a kid when John Candy was alive and making movies.  Seeing this in the theater with my Dad is one of my favorite movie memories.  Steve Martin and John Candy are both at the top of their game here and it’s a shame they never partnered up for another film like this.  If you like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, you’ll probably enjoy this less celebrated gem as well.

Our second movie is Home for the Holidays starring Holly Hunter and directed by Jodie Foster.  Hunter’s character flies home for Thanksgiving after a series of unfortunate events and braces herself for a dysfunctional family holiday.  Anne Bancroft plays the critical mother.  Charles Durning, a Christmas movie MVP, plays the lovable bumbling dad.  Robert Downey Jr plays the gay brother in one of his most underrated roles with his usual mix of charm and snark.  If you want to feel better about your family’s Thanksgiving, put this one on.   

Finally, we have Pieces of April.  This independent film used to be required viewing for me every November.  I still try to watch at least part of it around Thanksgiving every year.  Katie Holmes plays black sheep April who is hosting her family for Thanksgiving at her apartment.  She desperately wants everything to go off without a hitch.  It isn’t going to.  This bittersweet movie about community and family always touches me and the message of hope and reconciliation always gets to me.  I always tear up at the end.  Plus the soundtrack by the Magnetic Fields is amazing.  The way the characters love each other is deeply moving. 

There you have it.  Three quality films that Christmas doesn’t own.  I hope you’ll check them out and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do