When it comes to movie holidays, Thanksgiving usually takes a back seat to that overplayed holiday in December. The one with the elves. The one that rhymes with "isthmus." (Sort of.)
But why the second-class status, Thanksgiving? The holiday's got all the same potential for family chaos, waxing moral on the spirit of the holiday, and elaborate turkey disasters, without any of the reindeer and polar bears. The only animal you're going to see in a Thanksgiving movie is the one that's about to get eaten.
Our own best movie memories from Thanksgiving involve falling asleep on the couch during USA Network's Planet of the Apes marathon, but here are 10 films that get the holiday meal just right.
10. Grumpy Old Men
Honestly, we haven't seen this movie in like 15 years, but something about Walter Matthau calling Jack Lemmon a dickhead on a cold Minnesota morning just screams Thanksgiving. There may or may not have been an actual turkey dinner in there, too, though we might be confusing it with the sequel, Grumpier Old Men.
9. Hannah and Her Sisters
Many a Woody Allen fan will cite Hannah and Her Sisters among their favorite of his films, what with the incredible cast and the patented Allen romantic dysfunction...layered right on top of an incredible Thanksgiving spread. Pass the anxiety and can we please have a second helping of '80s perm?
8. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Yeah, yeah, it's a classic. It's sweet and it's cute even though Lucy is a huge asshole most of the time. Oh, and nobody's parents seem to give a shit that their children are eating a bizarre meal outside on lawnchairs.
7. Nobody's Fool
Thanksgiving's as good a time as any to rekindle your relationship with your biological father, especially if he's played by a crotchety old Paul Newman in one of his last great roles (this was also the great Jessica Tandy's last film). We saw this movie in the theater, at age 14, with our grandparents--needless to say, the strip poker scene made for a few uncomfortable moments. Possibly our first boob viewing in a proper theater.
6. The House of Yes
Love us a creepy dramedy with Parker Posey and Tori Spelling. But, fair warning for those who haven't seen this Mark Waters flick: Sure, it's about a girl who thinks she's Jackie-O and her unwillingness to accept that her twin brother has brought home his fiancée for Thanksgiving dinner. There's just more to it, in an ultimately deeply disturbing, at times darkly comedic way. Don't watch with conservative relatives...or ones you may find attractive...or the mentally unstable...or people who work with doughnuts.
Combining Thanksgiving and road trips as only John Hughes can, Ed O'Neill's earnest, blue-collar Dutch turns up like a dented can of cranberry sauce to bring his girlfriend's son (Ethan Embry, wearing T-shirts rarely) back from his ritzy boarding school for Thanksgiving. The idyllic family meal exists mostly as a dream destination here, with road trip food along the way drawing out the class differences between O'Neill and Embry. Christopher McDonald turns up as the fancy-dad ex-husband, but we'll leave off mentioning his feeding habits here. This guy went on to play Shooter McGavin, and we all know what he eats for breakfast.
4. Garfield's Thanksgiving
Oh, Garfield, the poor fatty gets put on a diet right be for Thanksgiving?! No matter, though. This little gem celebrates the salvation of a thought-to-be ruined dinner...and Jon kinda-sorta getting some action. Happy times for all.
3. Pieces of April
In which a pre-scientology Katie Holmes struggles to cook Thanksgiving dinner in a cramped New York City apartment for her cancer-ridden bitch of a mother, her sensitive, suit-seeking boyfriend and various other less memorable relatives.
2. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
Watching Neil Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) eat crappy diner food, drink airport coffee, burn their car, get robbed, ride in the back of a truck and spoon in a dingy motel bed--all just so they can get home for Thanksgiving--is what the holiday season is all about. It's a classic, barely topped by...
1. Home For the Holidays
"I'm giving thanks that we don't have to go through this for another year. Except we do, because those bastards went and put Christmas right in the middle, just to punish us..."