While most people see Thanksgiving as the ushering in of the holiday season and tend to watch such December-tinged favorites as Home Alone or, for some reason, all of the animated Christmas classics that should totally be saved for the week leading up to December 25th (everybody knows it!), there have been plenty of good movies to have taken place on or around Turkey Day itself and should certainly be viewed on the day of feasting before any sort of Santa Claus is thought of. We’ve compiled a list of our six favorites that could easily be viewed between the end of the Macy’s Day Parade and whenever the hell the turkey is done cooking (it’s always a mystery). Here they are in no particular order.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
After both A Charlie Brown Christmas in 1965 and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown in 1966 were shown and became staples of both October and December, it only made sense that they’d eventually make a special for the holiday in between. It took awhile, of course, and didn’t show up until 1973. While not as universally known as the other two, this film does feature yet another attempt by Charlie Brown to kick the football. Gee, I wonder if he does it this time. (He does not.)
Addams Family Values
Putting everybody’s favorite macabre household in any norm social setting is a recipe for laughs, but things got especially weird when, at the behest of the evil Joan Cusack, Gomez and Morticia Addams send their children Pugsley and Wednesday to summer camp. A summer camp where they have to do a musical play about the very first Thanksgiving, and Wednesday is supposed to play Pocahontas. None of this is historically accurate, not least of all the time of year this whole thing is taking place, but Wednesday’s rewrite of the super racist text is the exact kind of Thanksgiving play we’d love to see for real.
Hannah and Her Sisters
Woody Allen takes a look at family and tradition in his 1986 Oscar-winning comedy-drama about, just as it sounds, a woman named Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her two sisters (Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey) and their relationships over the course of two years. Since Thanksgiving is traditionally the most family of family holidays, the film begins and ends with a Thanksgiving dinner, two years apart. Awkwardness and buried feelings are all the rage among these people. It’s a thing in which Allen relishes.
The Last Waltz
You know what nobody does for Thanksgiving? Go to a concert. Like a big, enormous, end-of-a-long-career concert celebration. And, like, what if that featured tons of famous guest musicians and went on for several hours and was filmed for posterity by Martin Scorsese? Wouldn’t that be just the best Thanksgiving? Evidently, a lot of people had that idea in 1976 when The Band played their final show with the likes of Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and more in attendance to send them off. Pretend your family is cool and went to this while you eat your aunt Mildred’s overdone green bean casserole.
The Ice Storm
Yeah! Let’s get depressed! Ang Lee’s bleak drama about people in 1970s, middle-class Connecticut who are dissatisfied with their lives and decide to experiment with casual sex and alcoholism. It’s not particularly uplifting, but this is a good thing because by this point in the marathon, you’re going to need a reminder that your family isn’t so bad and at least you aren’t in the 1970s. Trust me, though, your feast will look that much better after going through this. (Whoever decided this trailer was a good idea was the wrongest person alive.)
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
I could have gone obscure, or gone with John Hughes’ other Thanksgiving movie Dutch, but you’d all have yelled at me about forgetting this one, which is the absolute perfect Thanksgiving film. How annoying is it to get stranded at the airport? How much worse it is when it’s because of bad weather? What if it were a holiday also? And what if you had the most annoying traveling companion ever conceived? The answer, friends, is all kinds of hilarious for us but awful for Steve Martin’s coiled-spring of a character. Laugh off your dinner and fade away knowing you’re safe and sound.
I could very easily have picked ThanksKilling as the humorous joke entry for this list, but this 2009 horror-comedy, which is neither scary nor funny, about a demonic turkey hand puppet that attacks and kills kids who go home from college for the holiday, is one of the worst and least appetizing things I’ve ever seen. So please, for your own sake, don’t even try to watch it ironically. It’s…guhhhhhhhh.
Have a safe, foodful, and happy Thanksgiving, or Friendsgiving, or any other ____giving you’re having!