Movie Mondays: Thanksgiving Films

~posted by Frank

When you hear about holiday films, most people wax nostalgic for heartwarming Christmas films. But what about Thanksgiving? While four of the most popular Thanksgiving flicks may tug at the heartstrings, eventually, it’s usually dysfunction and family drama that’s front and center.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) stars Steve Martin as an uptight businessman trying to get back to Chicago for the holiday, all the while accompanied by the well-meaning but incredibly annoying traveling salesman (John Candy). This contemporary screwball comedy is a timeless showcase for the talents of the two leads.

Pieces of April (2003) features Katie Holmes as the wild child of a conservative family who invites her dying mother (Patricia Clarkson), patient father (Oliver Platt), siblings and grandmother to Thanksgiving dinner in her run-down apartment in New York City’s Lower East Side that she shares with her African American boyfriend (Derek Luke). This indie flick is both funny and touching.

Home for the Holidays (1995) finds Holly Hunter recently fired and reluctantly returning home to join her parents (Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning); gay brother (Robert Downey Jr) and his surprise guest (Dylan McDermott); and insufferable sister and brother-in-law (Cynthia Stevenson and Steve Guttenberg) — all the while fretting that her daughter (Claire Danes) plans on losing her virginity while mom’s out of town. Directed by Jodie Foster, it’s a (sometimes exhausting) broad comedy with some priceless lines.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) starts and ends with Thanksgiving dinner, two years apart. In between, the lives of Hannah (Mia Farrow) and sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest) are thrown into disarray. Boasting an incredible supporting cast including Carrie Fisher, Michael CaineMax von Sydow and director Woody Allen, it uses Thanksgiving to illustrate how much families can change in a short period of time.

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