Every family has different Thanksgiving traditions. Some squabble over whether sweet potato casserole should have marshmallows in it or not, while some switch between the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and whatever football game happens to be on. And plenty sit down to watch a movie together as a family after they’ve eaten their Thanksgiving feast.
There are lots of great Thanksgiving movies to pick from as everyone is collectively waiting for the tryptophan to kick in, from goofy comedies and relationship dramas to fall-themed mysteries and spooky family hijinks. Here are just a few options among the best Thanksgiving movies you can stream to boost the holiday spirit.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Is there anything more nostalgic than the double act of Steve Martin and John Candy? Planes, Trains and Automobiles sees the unlikely duo struggling to make it back to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving after an unfortunate flight diversion that has them stranded in Wichita. Neil (Martin) is an uptight advertising executive, and he has little time for the whirlwind of chaos that Del (Candy) brings along with them. But if they want to survive their increasingly lengthy journey home, Neil will have to overcome his frustrations with Del and learn how to get along. A staple of cable television on Thanksgiving for years, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a stone-cold holiday classic.
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Fantastic Mr. Fox
Based on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox may not be explicitly about Thanksgiving, but it is absolutely a film about feasting, which makes it appropriate for the most food-focused holiday. George Clooney stars as Mr. Fox, an enterprising stop-motion fox who makes a career out of filching food from three local farmers. It’s like stealing candy from a baby — that is, until the farmers decide to fight back, and Mr. Fox and his friends are forced to get a little bit more inventive, concocting a plan to tunnel underground into each of their respective warehouses. With the endlessly creative vision of Wes Anderson, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a quirky delight for both kids and adults.
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Pieces of April
Thanksgiving is a nice, heartwarming holiday, sure, with plenty of great food and quality time spent with family. But, as we see in Pieces of April, it can also be a tremendous burden, packed full of unresolved tensions just waiting to overflow. Katie Holmes plays April, the black sheep of the family who is determined to host Thanksgiving for her parents and younger siblings, almost to prove to them all that she isn’t as big of a screwup as they think she is. But between the non-functional oven in her tiny NYC apartment that couldn’t fit a pigeon, let alone a turkey, her mother’s cancer diagnosis, and the family’s snobbish attitude towards her neighborhood, things get real complicated real fast. With strong performances from the main cast, Pieces of April is the best indie pick for Thanksgiving meal.
Stream on Tubi
Addams Family Values
On the face of it, Addams Family Values sounds as though it would be a better fit for Halloween, what with its ghoulish lead family. But it’s actually the perfect Thanksgiving film for several reasons. For one, there’s the iconic sequence where, while performing a Thanksgiving musical at a disturbingly upbeat summer camp, Wednesday (Christina Ricci) goes rogue and burns the holiday to the ground, both metaphorically and literally. But we also get some prime family dysfunction as Debbie Jelinsky (Joan Cusack) goes on a rant — complete with a slideshow presentation — about all the times she’s been wronged by her loved ones. Who hasn’t sat through one of those on Thanksgiving?
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What happens when you put together a working-class Ed O’Neill and a snobbish prep school brat played by a young Ethan Embry? An underrated Thanksgiving comedy, that’s what. Just before the holidays, Dutch Dooley (O’Neill) is enlisted to pick up his girlfriend’s son Doyle (Embry) from boarding school, after his rich father bailed on their Thanksgiving plans. But the two butt heads almost immediately, making their cross-country journey a trial in patience, as Dutch refuses to treat Doyle like a little prince. Silly yet somehow endearing, Dutch wins over audiences just as Dutch and Doyle begin to bond with one another — against their better judgment.
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Home for the Holidays
If there’s one thing that both the movies and real life have taught us, it’s that family holidays rarely turn out the way we think they’re going to. Home for the Holidays stars Holly Hunter as Claudia, a single mother who, reeling from the news that her daughter is choosing not to spend Thanksgiving with her, makes the decision to return home to spend the holiday with her family. This is not exactly an easy choice, as her parents and siblings come with a whole lot of dysfunctional baggage. But will sparks fly between Claudia and her brother’s new business colleague (Dylan McDermott)? They might just have the ultra-rare Thanksgiving movie romance.
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The sheer number of cable knit sweaters alone in Knives Out is enough to make it qualify as a Thanksgiving movie. Filled with cozy fall weather and endless family drama, Rian Johnson’s film is an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery starring Daniel Craig as private investigator Benoit Blanc. He’s brought in after a wealthy family patriarch (Christopher Plummer) dies under strange circumstances – plenty of his greedy, petulant relations have a motive to kill him, but which one of them actually did it? Both funny and clever, Knives Out gives its ensemble cast plenty of opportunities to shine, while making a star out of its leading lady, Ana de Armas.