Unlike Christmas and Halloween, no one is exactly sure what makes a “great Thanksgiving movie.” I asked the writers for It’s Just Movies to offer up a great Thanksgiving movie selection and none of them came back with the same movie — because there is no one specific kind of movie to watch on the holiday.
Here are the suggestions for movies to watch tonight:
Kathleen Collins — After you’re done eating turkey and visiting with family, put on some comfortable clothes and let your holiday shopping strees disolve with a vist with the Griswolds. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” is a great start to the holiday season. Starring Chevy Chase, the movie revolves around the Griswold family — Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids — who are preparing for a traditional family holiday celebration. Things don’t run as smoothly as they planned and Clark’s bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests and a turn of hilarious events. A funny part in the movie is when Clark decorates the outside of the house with 25,000 light bulbs and the process of getting those lights to work, how it annoys his snobby neighbors and the effect all those lights have on other things. It is hilarious! This is one movie I never get sick of!
Rachel Coyne — Last Thanksgiving, my whole family watched “WALL-E,” since my mother had just bought it on DVD, and everyone loved it. You really can’t go wrong with anything Pixar — the story is funny and touching, the animation stunning, and WALL-E the robot is more expressive than most working human actors. Plus there was that whole “Hello, Dolly!” musical tie-in, which I loved more than words can say. It’s just an all-around enjoyable movie that has a heart and a message (that it doesn’t beat you over the head with), and it’s appropriate for all ages, so you can safely strew your entire food coma-induced family around the living room to watch it.
Tom Elce — Anne Hathaway’s narcissistic recovering addict stands at the centre of the conflicts brought to the forefront by a marriage-inspired familial get-together in Jonathan Demme’s excellent “Rachel Getting Married,” a film to see on Thanksgiving for its believable portrayal of a family dynamic that has an emotional impact derived from something more than giving an audiencethe warm and fuzzies. The family here’s complete with all the resentment, awkwardness and complex love of any realistically-flawed clan, powerfully captured by Demme as a uniformly pain-stricken group of people with credible thoughts and feelings. Not necessarily a happy experience, but one that embraces the concept of families with perception and care.
Robert DeFeis — Jim Carrey starts “Bruce Almighty” by spiting God for all the bad luck he has had, but if you’re wondering how this film relates to the very festive holiday Thanksgiving, I’ll get there. Jennifer Aniston plays the role of his wife as Bruce gets to separate the bowl of soup with his newly received powers of God. Morgan Freeman plays God, who is tired of hearing Bruce complain about how bad of a job he does and decides to just give him his powers. Throughout the film, you get to see how wild it can be to have those kind of powers (and also how much fun). This is a fantastic movie to just sit down with the kids and watch as it tells the tale of thanks and we all know that that’s what it’s all about. Bruce, in the end, will finally realize that he should just be thankful for what he has.
Josue Sanchez — My favorite choice is kinda a tough one because it’s rated “R,” but once you watch it you realize it is due to one scene (that could be fast forwarded like my parent would do), so I will say my choice is “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” It’s really funny, and it shows all the struggling that a loving father goes through to get home in time to celebrate thanksgiving with his family!
Chas Blankenship — When it comes to Thanksgiving, my family likes to do things big … big turkey (sometimes TWO!), big trimmings, big personality and characters and ultimately, a collectively big heart as we all sit at the table enjoying each other’s company (sometimes reluctantly, but that’s family for ya!) and sharing in the togetherness of the day. So naturally, after a hearty meal as we all stew and beach on the sofa, we like to enjoy big movies. And, when it comes to the mood of the holiday, nothing personally satisfies like ANY of the 22 films that make up the “James Bond” series (1962 to 2008) … technically 23 if you include 1983’s unofficial “Never Say Never Again!” One of the longest running and most beloved franchises in history, the series follows the exploits of MI6 super secret agent 007 (played chronologically by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig) as he gallivants around the glob thwarting ambitious adversaries, seducing beautiful women into bed and employing an arsenal of inspired gadgetry to get the whole ‘saving the world’ job done. From the depths of the ocean in “Thunderball” to the outer reaches of space in “Moonraker” it’s quite clear that no terrain is difficult for Bond. With a martini (shaken, not stirred) in one hand and a trusty firearm in the other, James conquers foe and femme fatale alike as he tangles with a bevy of prominent supports throughout his adventures (Honor Blackman, Yaphet Kotto, Christopher Lee, Sophie Marceau, Donald Pleasance, Christopher Walken, Madonna, John Rhys-Davies, Denise Richards, Benecio Del Toro, Famke Janseen, Talisa Soto, Jimmy Dean and Halle Berry … to name a few). With his undeniable charm, trademark wit and a license to kill, Bond proves that when it comes to saving the world … and potential post-Thanksgiving dinner boredom … nobody does it as big … and nobody does it better.
Ben Fowler — We don’t celebreate Thanksgiving in the U.K., but a film that is always guaranteed to get my family sitting down watching together is “The Lion King.” Simba’s story from naive little lion cub to mighty king of the Pride Lands come the end credits is a sad, and yet ultimately uplifting, experience. A big story, based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, is one that gets the adults talking and yet the songs are catchy enough to be accidentally caught singing the next day at work! Be honest, who hasn’t secretly thought each time they watch it “hold on Mufasa!”
Alexa Milan — “Miracle on 34th Street” (either the 1947 original or the 1994 remake) is a great film to watch on Thanksgiving to transition into the holiday season. The magic begins at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when the drunken actor hired to play Santa Claus is replaced with a jovial man claiming to be the real Santa Claus. The film is an inspiring look at the true meaning of Christmas and how it touches the lives of the Walker family. Kris Kringle’s holiday spirit brings Doris and her daughter Susan to closer both to each other and to a potential father figure for Susan.
Jason Eaken — My family and I have very different tastes in movies. But on Thanksgiving, we always sit down and watch one together, which means finding something everyone will like or at least tolerate. Not always easily done. But we struck upon a great one that has become the movie I instantly think of when I think of watching movies as a family during the holidays — 2007’s “Dan in Real Life.” It’s not a classic, I know, but it’s such a warm-sweater-of-a-movie that I just love it. It’s perfect for what it is and it’s one of those movies you can watch endlessly. It has a great ensemble, led by Steve Carrell (whom Mom usually doesn’t like), it’s extremely pleasant and funny and it’s really hard not to like. One reason it’s so perfect for the holidays is that it’s about a family coming together, and even though it’s mostly about Carrell’s Dan, the movie does a really nice job of showing the family dynamic. Put it this way, it’s a lot better a film than it needs to be, which is why I like it. Also, because there’s a scene where Steve Carrell dances like an idiot that makes Mom laugh so hard she stops making any sound and her face turns completely red. It’s one of my most favorite things she does.
Cam Smith — Large holiday get-togethers rarely go well. Sure, everyone is in the appropriate festive spirit but, ultimately, disparate personalities are almost always inclined to clash and no sooner has the bird been carved than your eccentric uncle is noisily vocalizing his irritation over not being able to find a good doo-wop radio station. Or perhaps an hour-long argument breaks out over which sprinkler system best waters the lawn (true stories, both. *Long sigh*). That’s why, after everyone mercifully heads out the door, I like to plop down on the couch and pop in my DVD of the Sylvester Stallone feel-good classic “Rocky.” Watching Stallone awkwardly twiddle his thumbs while Burt Young’s Paulie drunkenly berates poor, timid Adrian (Talia Shire), belligerently calling her “a loser” and ordering her to get the hell out of the house, serves as an ideal pick-me-up from the hours of migraine-inducing tedium I’ve just endured. I can always take true comfort in knowing that, as brutal as some of our past Thanksgiving dinners have been, no one has ever pitched the freakin’ turkey out the ever-loving back door. The real bonus, however, lies in the fact that by the time the get-up-and-cheer finale rolls around, and the Italian Stallion has gone the glorious distance, I’m so completely under the film’s spell that the night’s events have been swept clear from my mind and I’m almost ready for the next family gathering. Almost.
Jon Martincic — When asked to write about a great family movie, “Swiss Family Robinson” (1960) was the first to come to mind. It has a great balance of adventure, closeness and family fun that has always made me feel fuzzy inside. As a rule of thumb, we know a movie succeeds when it has its own Disney World attraction. Well, at least I think so. So when the family gets together for the holidays, skip the Vince Vaughn and Will Farrell movies and go for a proven classic.
Sean Gerski — As for my movie, I can understand the thought that a great movie for Thanksgiving is one that is about a big family, but after a day spent with my own family, I don’t really need to watch the interplay of another family. Instead, I would rather watch a movie that I can enjoy with the whole family. Plenty of movies fall under that header, but I’m going to go with Hugh Grant’s “About a Boy.” In the movie, Will (played by Grant in my favorite performance of his) has everything he wants — including being left alone. But his “perfect” life is forever changed when he meets a teen who is nothing like Will. Through Marcus, however, Will slowly realizes there is a lot to life that he has been missing out on. Equally hilarious and heartfelt, it’s a perfect way to cap off a holiday with your family.
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