11:58pm PST, Nov 24, 2021
To celebrate Thanksgiving, Wonderwall.com has rounded up some of our favorite films set during the holiday. Whether you decide to watch before or after your turkey day feast, we’ve figured out where they’re currently streaming to help you along… Let’s start with this classic… In the 1987 comedy “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” Steve Martin plays control freak marketing executive Neal Page, who’s trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Along the way, he encounters well-meaning but annoying fellow traveler Del Griffith, a salesman played by the late, great John Candy. As flights get rerouted and they maneuver to make it to their destination, misadventures and hilarity ensue. Buy or rent this John Hughes film on YouTube, Google Play or Apple TV.
Keep reading for more Thanksgiving movie suggestions…
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The Peanuts gang celebrates the happy holiday in “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.” The classic, which originally aired on CBS in 1973, won an Emmy the following year — cementing its iconic status. More recently, the film about Charlie and the gang celebrating turkey day aired annually on ABC through 2019, but in 2020, it moved over to its new home — streaming on Apple TV+.
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In “The Blind Side,” Thanksgiving is a turning point in the sweet and true story. The 2009 film starring Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw and Quinton Aaron centers around a family that opens their home to Michael, a talented football-playing foster child, during the Thanksgiving holiday after Sandra’s character, Leigh Anne, realizes he’s in need of a place to live. He becomes a beloved member of their clan and goes on to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. Stream this feel-good flick on Hulu or HBO Max.
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Hear us out on this one! “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” centers around Black Friday — which goes hand in hand with Thanksgiving. In the 2009 flick, Kevin James’ titular character is preparing for the busiest day of the shopping year when he finds himself in the middle of a heist. This one is currently available to buy or rent on YouTube or Apple TV.
The family drama “The Humans” — which opened in theaters on Nov. 24, 2021, and is available to stream on Showtime — is based on writer-director Stephen Karam’s Tony Award-winning one-act play of the same name. It chronicles three generations of the Blake family as they reunite in a Manhattan duplex to celebrate Thanksgiving. The film, which features a star-studded cast that includes Steven Yeun, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer and Richard Jenkins, has been praised for its exceptional portrayal of familial tension and the love that binds them regardless.
Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish star in “The Oath,” a 2018 film that centers around a politically divided family at Thanksgiving time. In the flick, Americans are asked to sign a legal document swearing allegiance to the government, which causes some tumultuous events around the holiday. Buy or rent this one on YouTube.
In 2001, Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron starred in “Sweet November,” the story of a couple falling in love throughout the month of November. During their relationship, Charlize’s Sara learns she has terminal cancer and tries to push Keanu’s Nelson away — but the two have a happy reunion that takes place during Thanksgiving. You can stream this one for free on HBO Max, or buy or rent it on Apple TV or YouTube.
Get ready for the next big holiday with “The Santa Clause”! This family-friendly film that came out in 1994 stars Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, a man who accidentally falls into the role of Santa. The flick, which includes a Thanksgiving scene, really helps usher in the next festive season. Stream this one on Disney+.
If you’d like a more historic rendition of Thanksgiving, “The New World” takes you back to the beginnings of America, telling the story of the founding of Virginia’s Jamestown. Colin Farrell play British Captain John Smith and Q’orianka Kilcher brings Pocahontas to life in this film from 2005. Stream this one for free on Tubi or rent or buy it on YouTube.
Next up? A flick for the whole family — the animated tale “Free Birds.” In the movie, Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) is a lucky pardoned Thanksgiving turkey who gets involved with a wild turkey named Jake (voiced by Woody Harrelson) to go back in time and take turkeys off the Thanksgiving menu forever. Stream this one tonight on Netflix.
“Tower Heist” lets you enjoy the takedown of a Ponzi scheme mastermind, all set against the backdrop of New York City at Thanksgiving time. The good guys even use the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a cover to break into the villain’s apartment in this 2011 comedy starring Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck and Eddie Murphy. Stream it Peacock or buy or rent it on YouTube or Apple TV.
“Funny People” includes a really memorable Thanksgiving scene. The film about a stand-up comedian (played by Adam Sandler) who’s diagnosed with a terminal disease includes his memorable toast at Thanksgiving dinner. If you’d like some laughs, check out this dark comedy streaming on Starz or Hulu.
If you’re in the mood for a black comedy, check out 1997’s “The House of Yes.” It centers around a man who brings his new fiancée home for the holidays to meet his strange family. This one features Parker Posey in one of her most memorable roles as she stars as a Jackie O-obsessed woman who’s recently been released from a psychiatric hospital. You can stream this one on Amazon Prime Video.
Not feeling a fictional film ahead of Thanksgiving? “The Last Waltz” is a documentary about The Band’s final concert on Thanksgiving Day back in 1976. The Canadian American rock group had a star-studded lineup of special guests at their last show including Joni Mitchell and Neil Young (seen here), Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and more. Largely considered one of the best concert films ever made, this one is streaming now on Tubi.
Another darker Thanksgiving tale? 2003’s “Pieces of April” stars Katie Holmes as an estranged daughter getting her home ready for family members coming to Thanksgiving dinner. Patricia Clarkson scored Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best supporting actress for her work as the disapproving mother in the film. Catch this one streaming for free on Pluto TV and Tubi.
Though it’s actually based in the summer, one of our favorite big-screen homages to Thanksgiving takes place in 1993’s “Addams Family Values.” In the flick, teens Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) attend a summer camp where they’re cast in a Thanksgiving play, with Wednesday playing Pocahontas. You can stream this one on Netflix, Paramount+ or Amazon Prime Video.
In need of a more dramatic Thanksgiving story? Ang Lee’s 1997 film “The Ice Storm” centers around some dark family behavior in New Canaan, Connecticut, and features a star-studded cast including Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Woods and Katie Holmes. This one is available to rent or buy on YouTube, Apple TV or Amazon Prime Video.
In 2020, the popular concept of Friendsgiving turned into a movie — aptly titled “Friendsgiving”! It starred a lot of funny ladies like Aisha Tyler, Chelsea Peretti and Margaret Cho. Stream this one on Netflix tonight.
Though the entirety of 1998’s “You’ve Got Mail” doesn’t center around Thanksgiving, this rom-com classic does take place in the fall and includes a memorable Thanksgiving scene. Stream this beloved Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romance on HBO Max or Peacock anytime.
1995’s “Home for the Holidays” was directed by Jodie Foster. It centers around a single mom (played by Holly Hunter) who loses her job and ends up having to travel to see her dysfunctional family for the holidays. You can currently stream this one on Pluto TV.
While the film doesn’t take place entirely during Thanksgiving, 2017’s filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” briefly visits the holiday. As Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird begins to fall deeper in love with Luca Hedges’ Danny O’Neill, she decides to spend her final Thanksgiving before graduation with his upper class family instead of her own — a decision that deeply disappoints her mother, Marion (played by Laurie Metcalf). Saoirse earned an Oscar nod for best actress for her work in the coming-of-age film, which is currently available to stream on Netflix.
“Alice’s Restaurant” — a 1969 film based on the folk song “Alice’s Restaurant” — sees singer Arlo Guthrie turn film actor. The movie tells the tale of a young man heading to his friend’s house for Thanksgiving after being kicked out of college. This one’s not currently available to stream, but you can track it down on DVD.