It seems that Christmas begins earlier and earlier each year, trampling Thanksgiving. Christmas: with it’s colorful lights, festive decorations, time-honored traditions, and magical stories. Christmas has many, many stories surrounding it; from “The Night Before Christmas” to How Ernest Saved Christmas. Not many people realized how many films center on Thanksgiving and the importance of coming together as a family (whether you want to or not). So, while you’re nursing that turkey hangover and listening to your drunk uncle make you ashamed of your chromosomes, check out some of these Thanksgiving classics.
Home for the Holidays
Jodie Foster’s second ever occurrence directing for film was a perfect portrayal of 21st Century holiday dysfunction; even if it was made in 1995. Home for the Holidays stars Holly Hunter as Claudia — a recently fired single mom who visits her family for Thanksgiving. However, when she arrives, the traditional holiday criticism begins. Her uptight sister (Cynthia Stevenson) and stuffy brother-in-law (Steve Guttenberg) turn their nose up at her. Her mother (Anne Bancroft) is constantly judging her and her father (Charles Durning) is in his own quirky little world. The only person Claudia does get along with is her nutty gay brother (Robert Downey Jr.) and his friend Leo (Dylan McDermott). While she initially thinks Leo is her brother’s new partner, she begins to develop feelings for him that helps her reconnect with each of her dysfunctional family members.
Free Birds is a recent animated entry to the list of Thanksgiving films and tells the story of two turkeys who set out to change the traditional centerpiece of the holiday meal forever. Reggie (Owen Wilson) is the lucky turkey pardoned by the President just before Thanksgiving. He lives a live of luxury in the White House until Jake (Woody Harrelson), the President of the Turkey Liberation Front, kidnaps him and takes him in the time machine S.T.E.V.E. (George Takei) back to three days before the first Thanksgiving. There they find a group of turkeys living in fear underground, led by Broadbeak. Reggie falls for Broadbeak’s daughter, Jenny (Amy Poehler) and helps Jake to sabotage the feast and save turkeys for generations to come.
Son in Law
Pauly Shore’s cinematic masterpiece tells the story of small town girl Becca (Carla Gugino) who goes off to college in the big city. There she meets Crawl (Pauly Shore) a laidback 90s cliché who helps Becca tap into her wild side. When she returns home for Thanksgiving she brings her new attitude and Crawl with her, to the consternation of her family. When her ex-boyfriend proposes, a panicky Becca convinces Crawl to lie about already being engaged to her. As Becca’s family tries to put Crawl through the wringer on their dairy farm, they realize he’s a breath of fresh air that they all desperately needed.
Dutch is an extremely underrated family film from John Hughes. Ed O’Neil stars as a humble, working class guy dating borderline socialite, Natalie (JoBeth Williams). Natalie is divorced from snobby aristocrat Reed (Christopher McDonald) who just canceled his Thanksgiving plans with their son Doyle (Ethan Embry). While Natalie is disappointed for Doyle, Dutch volunteers to pick the boy up from his boarding school in Georgia and bring him to Chicago for Thanksgiving; against Doyle’s wishes. Doyle takes after his father and butts heads with Dutch at every turn, attempting to sabotage the trip. Along their journey, they realize that there’s quite a bit they could stand to learn from each other.
National Lampoon’s Thanksgiving Family Reunion
While it may be hard to find, this spin-off of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is full of cheesy fun. In Thanksgiving Family Reunion, the honorable Judge Reinhold stars as straight-laced Dr. Mitch Snider, who drags his unwilling family with him to spend Thanksgiving with his distant cousin, Woodrow (Bryan Cranston). Woodrow is a bit of a redneck hippy (the Cousin Eddie to Reinhold’s Clark) and ends up torturing Mitch until the uptight doctor realizes that he needs to relax. This film didn’t win any Oscars but it’s definitely fun for the holidays.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Probably John Hughes most famous holiday film, Planes, Trains and Automobiles has perfectly encapsulated the dread of traveling home for the holidays. Steve Martin stars as Neal: an average businessman trying to make it home to his family for Thanksgiving. When his flight from New York to Chicago is diverted to Wichita, he teams up with the occupant of the only remaining hotel room near the airport: a rambling shower curtain salesman named Del (John Candy). The pair tries every mode of transportation to get home, but either Del’s incompetence or Neal’s rudeness makes the trip a complete disaster. But, as in so many holiday films, Neal begins to learn more and more about Del until he realizes what a jerk he’s been and the two become close friends.
We at Eventful hope you enjoy these films and the time spend with loved one this Thanksgiving. And remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving, as told by Wednesday Addams: “The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, ‘Do not trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller’”.