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The best Thanksgiving movies, or, channeling the inner Del Griffith

Thanksgiving is the one holiday that hasn't been screwed up yet (ok, I guess that Arbor day is in good shape despite the fact that the state of Tennessee does not see fit to give me the day off to go plant a tree). The Christmas tsunami has long ago overtaken the Thanksgiving holidays, what with the day after Thanksgiving becoming the true day of thanks for mall operators.

Anyway, to me, Thanksgiving is an island of respite in the commercial storm. Also there really aren't any good Thanksgiving songs (at least in secular-land). I love Christmas music (in its place which is in DECEMBER), but I like a holiday that hasn't been overcome with anything other than family gatherings and family feuds...good times.

Unlike Christmas, which has had and continues to have myriads of movies (mostly blah with some excellent exceptions), Thanksgiving has a few wonderful films centering on the day, and of course, inevitably (sorry for the obvious cliche) a few turkeys.

The best comedy and my favorite Thanksgiving movie: Hands down, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I've seen this movie or parts of it at least a dozen times. I still laugh every time and I still get misty-eyed by the ending even though I know EXACTLY what is coming. Martin and Candy are a great team, and the decency of Del Griffiths in the trappings of an awkward doof is inspirational. It's truly a great road movie, as well.

Best non-comedy movie about a family, but not a family movie: Hannah and Her Sisters. This Woody Allen movie is worth watching just for the lighting and the editing. This film was part of the second wave of great films from Allen, and is bracketed by two Thanksgiving dinners. It has a great cast featuring Michael Caine, Max Van Sydrow, Barbara Hersey, and Allen himself. Allen has not reached the point where he looks silly dating younger women, and Michael Caine is note-perfect.

Best uplifting movie about the typically disfunctional family: Pieces of April, starring the now-insane-female-half of TomKat (Katie Holmes, thankfully before the outside world became a Scientology Potential Trouble Source). Pieces of April is obviously a low-budget movie, with a wonderful cast. The movie has a couple of irritating sub-plots, and the filmmaker clearly ran out of money before he could really finish the film, but, despite all that, if you want to see grace and forgiveness eloquently displayed in the incredible acting of Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt and Holmes, this is the movie to watch.

Worst non-uplifting movie about a disfunctional family: Myth of Fingerprints. Actually this movie is well-made and has the best cast of any of the four films in this post. The darkness and disfunctionality never get dispelled though, and the film seems to revel in it's depression. Worth watching..but be warned!

Other Thanksgiving Films worth mentioning: Ice Storm, Nobody's Perfect and Home for the Holidays. Most of these films seem to center on disfunctionality which is a weird, but probably realistic way of saying thanks.

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About me

  • I'm John H
  • From Salemtown, Tennessee, United States
  • Cruising past 50, my wife and I have reared three kids and several dogs. I work for state government and daily conspire to deflate bureacracy.
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