A Guide to the Best Thanksgiving Movies of All Time

Christmas gets all the love as soon as Halloween ends, but for adults, there’s nothing better than Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a relaxation holiday. Sure, there are the hours of baking and mountains of dishes, but it all comes with great conversation with loved ones we rarely get to see the other 364 days of the year.

There’s no worrying about spending too much money or fighting stressed-out moms in department store checkout lines. Thanksgiving is just a day of good food and fond memories.

What better way to enjoy the spirit of togetherness than cozying up with family and watching some Thanksgiving movies? You may know Thanksgiving is a big day for blockbuster releases, but there are also plenty of wholesome flicks based around the holiday.

Put them on as background noise while you cook, or gather around them in the family room when your bellies are full. No matter how you want to enjoy them, make sure you add these fantastic films to your family festivities.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

John Candy and Steve Martin strike gold in Plane, Trains, and Automobiles, combining with such comedic chemistry that it’s a tragedy this was their only film together. The story follows Steve Martin’s character, Neal Page, as he desperately struggles to find his way home for Thanksgiving.

With the elements working against him, he reluctantly takes the help of Del Griffith (John Candy), a crass shower curtain ring salesman headed in the same direction.

What follows are memorable misadventures and over-the-top comedy from two of the best in the business. With an R rating, it’s by no means a full family flick, so you may need to save it for later in the evening. But with John Hughes at the helm, you can be sure that the raucous humor is equally poignant and heartwarming, a perfect tribute to the holidays.

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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We know it’s a Christmas movie, but this story from John Hughes features all the family fun we look forward to on Thanksgiving. Plus, it’s a perfect setup to get you ready for the next big holiday season.

Home for the Holidays

A depressing series of events primes Chicago resident Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) for Thanksgiving in Home for the Holidays. She loses her job, has a run-in with her daughter, and has to get ready for an awkward holiday with her parents and siblings.

There’s a whole lot of dysfunction she’ll need to navigate to survive this family affair.

It’s not always feel-good, but there’s definitely familiarity to the family dynamic in Jodie Foster’s sophomore directorial effort. Some incredible performances from a stellar cast including Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., and Anne Bancroft provide a real family identity that’s so missing in the zany family get-together movies that we see too often.

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Funny Thing About Love. It’s under-the-radar, but this family comedy from Pitch White Entertainment is pure delight from beginning to end. If you like dysfunction but want to keep it a little lighter with your Thanksgiving films, try this instead of Home for the Holidays.

Grumpy Old Men

There will never be another comedy pair like Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. Ever since the Odd Couple, they’ve delivered consistent laughs that just get better with age. And with Grumpy Old Men, these vets are at their irascible bests in one of the best Thanksgiving movies for families.

Thanksgiving is really more of a side note in Grumpy Old Men, but it’s too good to leave off the list. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau spar over the love of Ann-Margret’s character, a new neighbor in their small town. It’s an hour and a half of hot tempers, childish pranks, and off-color insults that make for a fun yet surprisingly sweet film to enjoy with the whole family.

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Grumpier Old Men. Watch these two flicks back to back to keep the laughs rolling. Reading the synopsis, it seems like a rehashed storyline (an old geezer fighting for love), but fresh humor and tender moments make it totally worthwhile to make your own Thanksgiving mini movie marathon.

Hannah and Her Sisters

An oldie but a goodie, Hannah and Her Sisters is a Woody Allen classic. Mia Farrow’s Hannah and her two sisters, played by Dianne Wiest and Barbara Hershey, deal with love and family issues in this heartfelt comedy that takes place across three Thanksgivings.

It’s a PG-13 film, but this is one of those Thanksgiving movies best left for the adults. Put the kids to bed, and try out this Oscar-winning masterpiece when the festivities die down.

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The Big Chill. The story about a Friendsgiving-of-sorts brings together an incredible ensemble cast. Glenn Close and company get together for a reunion after a friend’s funeral, giving them a chance to find comfort in each other.

There’s no wiz-bang comedy here, but the performances and perfectly placed humor make it a worthwhile watch. It’s not one of the best Thanksgiving movies for kids, but it definitely captures the spirit of togetherness.

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Check Out the Top Thanksgiving Movies This Holiday Season

It’s a time for comfort and relaxation, so take a load off this holiday season with one of the top Thanksgiving movies off this list. Blending humor and heart, these are sure to spark the joy of the season.

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