Movie buffs can easily list their favorite Christmas movies, rom-coms, and sports movies… but Thanksgiving movies? It’s not exactly a huge genre. But maybe that’s the way it should be. People who celebrate the holiday with a big dinner are perfectly attuned to flop on the couch and take a look. Here’s a rundown of 10 of the best Thanksgiving-related movies, plus info on where to watch them. (Sorry, Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant isn’t streaming or it would be included here.)
Warning: spoilers for some of the upcoming films.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles is perhaps the most well-known Thanksgiving movie of all Thanksgiving movies. Directed by John Hughes, who directed virtually everything during the 1980s, the 1987 comedy stars Steve Martin and John Candy as two travelers who spark an unlikely friendship as Martin desperately tries to get home for Thanksgiving. Martin and the late Candy have the perfect personalities to play this odd couple, making the film a charming and hilarious Thanksgiving treat.
Where to see: It’s free if you have Paramount Plus, or you can rent it from numerous streaming sites, including Prime Video, YouTube, and AppleTV.
Spike Lee’s first full-length feature film is 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It. (It’s in black and white, but a fan appears to have colorized the scene below.) Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) is a Brooklyn graphic artist who juggles three men, who all join for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner. Lee adapted the film into a Netflix series that ran for two seasons from 2017 to 2019. Note that Lee himself later regretted a rape scene from the film and it was not used in the series.
Where to see: The film and series are both available on Netflix.
Forget turkey and stuffing. Anyone who saw the Emmy Award-winning 1973 film A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving knows that there’s no real Thanksgiving without popcorn, jelly beans, pretzels, and toast.
Where to see: AppleTVPlus.
There’s a Thanksgiving scene in the original Rocky, and while it’s not exactly full of family-friendly fuzzies, make every excuse to watch (or re-watch) the 1976 best picture winner about a struggling Philly boxer who overcomes all odds ). Star Sylvester Stallone reportedly wrote the screenplay in just three days, but it’s been an American legend for more than 45 years.
Where to see: You can rent it on Apple TV, Prime Video, YouTube and other streaming sites.
Sure, Miracle on 34th Street is a famous Christmas movie. But it starts on Thanksgiving, and since you’ll probably see it after the turkey is cut up and the pies are put back in the fridge, it’s time to start the holiday season anyway.
Where to see: Rent for free on Disney Plus or Prime Video for subscribers or on numerous streaming services.
Muppet creator Jim Henson died in 1990, but his eponymous company, run by his children, still makes films and shows. Rapper Ludacris narrates Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow, a family-friendly Thanksgiving film that features goofy monsters that any Muppet fan will be familiar with.
Where to see: Buy it from Prime Video for a whopping 49 cents (for standard definition).
Not many Grumpy Old Men revolve around Thanksgiving, but the 1993 comedy still belongs on this list. They may be meeting older generations for Thanksgiving, and this comedy, set in Minnesota, is one of the few that acknowledges the friendships, romances, and feuds of more seasoned folk. Star Ann-Margret is still with us at 81, but of course Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon are dead.
Where to see: Watch it with a Paramount Plus subscription or rent it on YouTube or Apple TV.
There is a Thanksgiving scene in Barry Levinson’s 1990 Coming to America saga, Avalon, that many people quote when someone is late for their own family gatherings. (“You cut the turkey without me?”) That scene aside, this beautiful family drama is the kind of historical play they just don’t do anymore, and the boys on Thanksgiving can learn a lot about their ancestors by watching it.
Where to see: Rent it on Prime Video, Apple TV or YouTube.
Al Pacino won an Oscar for Scent of a Woman, a 1992 drama in which Chris O’Donnell plays a prep student hired to talk about Pacino’s character, the blind and cantankerous Vietnam War veteran Lt. Col. Frank Slade, to guard. It’s at a Thanksgiving dinner that viewers learn the cause of Slade’s blindness.
Where to see: Rent on Prime Video, Apple TV or YouTube.
Addams Family Values is the 1993 sequel to 1991’s The Addams Family, which brought the monstrously funny television characters of the 1960s to the big screen. It might seem more like a Halloween flick, but there’s a great Thanksgiving scene starring the ever-popular Addams, Wednesday (Christina Ricci).
Where to see: Stream it for free when you subscribe to Netflix or Paramount Plus, or rent it on Prime Video, YouTube or AppleTV.
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