We often skip straight from Halloween movies to Christmas movies, overlooking the fact that there are some truly excellent Thanksgiving movies worth enjoying every year.
Before you let the Christmas spirit invade November too soon, consider sitting down with your family and having a few movie nights throughout the month that focus on the Thanksgiving spirit instead.
Here are our picks for the best Thanksgiving movies that embody the season and are great to watch with family!
10. Addams Family Values (1993)
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While The Addams Family from 1991 has a definite Halloween feel to it complete with a costume party, Addams Family Values from 1993 bridges the gap between Halloween and Thanksgiving. It still features all the ghoulish practices of the family, but a Thanksgiving play as well.
This time around, the Addams family welcomes a new baby (Pubert) and hires a nanny for him (played by Joan Cusack). What they don’t know is that she’s a serial killer who murders her husbands, and she has her sights set on Fester (to take over his inheritance).
Meanwhile, Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to Camp Chippewa, where Wednesday is cast as Pocahontas in the Thanksgiving play. Instead of going along with the racist and sugar-coated play, she highlights some of the horrible truths that Native Americans endured. The entire speech is a testament to Christina Ricci’s talent as an actress at just 12 years old.
9. Garfield’s Thanksgiving (1989)
Garfield has specials for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, so you can always throw in one of those this time of year. These are all entertaining to watch and carry a lot of nostalgia for those of us who saw them as kids. Sharing them with my kids is a highlight of the season.
In this special, Garfield’s owner Jon takes him to the veterinarian the day before Thanksgiving, where she puts him on a diet—and also agrees to come over for Thanksgiving dinner. As Garfield struggles with his diet, Jon struggles with preparing dinner.
8. Home for the Holidays (1995)
Home for the Holidays is one of the rare Thanksgiving-centered family movies. Directed by Jodie Foster, the film follows Claudia (played by Holly Hunter) who’s fired from her job and visits her family for Thanksgiving.
She’s so overwhelmed by her teenage daughter and the debacle with her job that she needs to get away. But her family Thanksgiving has a lot of family drama, so much so that you may not feel as badly about your own.
Claudia’s brother, Tommy (played by Robert Downey Jr.), spills the turkey. The family finds out that he was married a few months before and didn’t tell them. Despite all of the craziness, the theme of the importance of family shines through.
7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Another childhood Thanksgiving staple is A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Many of us have fond memories of this special featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang having Thanksgiving together.
In his usual fashion, Charlie Brown is clueless when it comes to preparing a feast for his friends. They end up with popcorn, toast, and jelly beans, but they still have a good time together—and that’s all that matters.
6. Friendsgiving (2020)
In a live-action version of “friendsgiving” comes this movie of the same name—basically, Thanksgiving with friends instead of family. The movie is kind of similar to Home for the Holidays, which shows the dysfunction that can come with hosting Thanksgiving.
The story follows best friends who plan on having a low-key Thanksgiving dinner with just a few friends. Soon, it turns into a big party. For a fun and adult Thanksgiving movie, this one is a great choice.
5. Free Birds (2013)
Free Birds is a fun and animated kids movie that explores Thanksgiving from a turkey’s point of view. It reminds me a bit of Chicken Run in that you’ll get attached and root for the birds you may usually eat.
Two turkeys travel back in time in an attempt to get turkey off the Thanksgiving menu. The danger comes in when they run into Myles Standish, who’s trying to capture turkeys for the pilgrims.
4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
When it comes to classic 80s comedy, you can’t get much better than John Candy and Steve Martin. They play off each other so well and this movie is very entertaining to watch. Adding it to your Thanksgiving lineup is definitely a good idea.
The story revolves around Neal Page (played by Steve Martin), who embarks on a journey to get home to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving, but his flight is rerouted to Kansas because of a snowstorm.
He meets Del Griffith (played by John Candy), who will not stop talking. He begins to drive Neal crazy, but they must work together to get home in time for the holiday.
3. Son in Law (1993)
If you’re looking for more laughs to add to your list, consider adding Son in Law from 1993 with Pauly Shore in the title role.
The story revolves around his best friend bringing him home for Thanksgiving celebrations with her family. He and his friend Becca (played by Carla Gugino) have bonded since they first met, and he helped her adjust to college life.
Concerned that her hometown boyfriend may propose to her during Thanksgiving break, she brings Crawl home with her. It turns out that she was correct, but Crawl intervenes and tells her family that she’s already engaged to him—and plenty of hilarious antics ensue.
2. Holiday Inn (1942)
Holiday Inn is a great classic film from 1942 that not only features Thanksgiving, but all of the major holidays. It stars Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire as colleagues in a performing trio.
When Ted (played by Fred Astaire) steals Jim’s girl—who’s also a partner in their act—Jim (played by Bing Crosby) swears off entertainment. He buys an inn, but when it proves to be more work than he thought, he turns the inn into a holiday-only live entertainment establishment.
Many great dancing and singing scenes add to the charm of this musical, and incorporating numbers for each holiday opens up the possibilities. Listening to Crosby sing and watching Astaire dance is always a treat.
1. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
To help bridge the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street from 1947 is a great choice. The movie opens with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, so it’s a great way to wrap up Thanksgiving and spring into the Christmas season.
This classic movie features Natalie Wood as a young girl whose mother (played by Maureen O’Hara) hires a nice old man to be Macy’s Santa Claus. Neither believes at first that he really is Santa as he claims, and soon his sanity is questioned.
The way his lawyer proves that he is Santa is very clever. You can also check out the 1994 remake starring Mara Wilson and Elizabeth Perkins, but the original is where you should definitely start.