16 Best Thanksgiving Movies of All Time
Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends. While the traditional holiday has its roots in the pilgrims sharing a feast with Native American tribes, these days the holiday is used as more of a get-together between loved ones. It’s a day when food is ever present, with turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and pumpkin pie a must as part of your Thanksgiving dinner. Many people also spend the day watching the Thanksgiving parade and the football, both major television events. But if neither takes your fancy, there are plenty of Thanksgiving movies sure to entertain your family this Thanksgiving.
There are surprisingly dozens of great movies set around the Thanksgiving holiday that range from heartwarming family dramas to laugh-out-loud comedies. Although not as common as Halloween or Christmas movies, there are still enough Thanksgiving flicks to give you a solid selection of films to choose from. Some movies on this list don’t actually center around Thanksgiving, but the holiday does get a passing mention or feature at some point, making them a worthy choice.
The best Thanksgiving movies focus on family relationships, love stories, and friendships, and you are sure to find one you like in the collection below.
16 Best Thanksgiving Movies of All Time
1. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
When it comes to Thanksgiving movies it doesn’t get much better than this comedy classic from legendary 80s director John Hughes. Plans, Trains and Automobiles finds two total opposites – Steve Martin and John Candy – teaming up to make the journey from New York City to Chicago so they can get home in time for Thanksgiving with their families.
What follows is a three-day odyssey as the two constantly bicker and fight while taking every form of transportation possible to arrive before Thanksgiving. Martin and Candy have never been better and their chemistry is incredible to watch. The movie is packed full of humor providing plenty of laughs, but it’s the underlining story about friendship and the class divide that hits home, especially at the movie’s teary climax.Watch on Prime
2. The Humans (2001)
The newest movie on this list is also one of the best. Adapted from Stephen Karam’s (who also wrote the screenplay and directs) hit play, The Humans looks at a dysfunctional family who gather for Thanksgiving dinner. Sitting together in a run-down apartment, the family starts to reveal their true selves to each other, opening up about their hopes and dreams and how they really feel about each other.
Feuding with family members is something we’ve all experienced and The Humans handles the character’s interactions in the most honest way. The movie works thanks to Karam’s emotion-filled script and the actors and actresses involved; Beanie Feldstein, Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, June Squibb, and Steven Yeun, who is on an absolute tear at the moment. This is another feather in the A24 cap and a really remarkable piece of filmmaking.Watch on Showtime
3. Addams Family Values (1993)
Not as commercially successful as the original, Addams Family Values got the critics talking with its mix of dark humor and interesting character development. Although the movie isn’t specifically set at Thanksgiving, it does contain one of the wildest Thanksgiving day parades ever committed to film that has a real Lord of the Flies-type vibe.
All the original cast return, with Addams Family Values the final movie Raul Julia starred in that was released while he was still alive, with the Puerto Rican actor passing away from complications due to stomach cancer mere months after its release. The movie stands as a great tribute to Julia’s acting talents and is the best big-screen adaptation of the Addams Family. Christina Ricci is also a standout as Wednesday Addams.Watch on Netflix
4. Krisha (2015)
Krisha is about as heavy as the turkey sitting in your stomach after Thanksgiving Dinner. The movie centers on the title character, who, after years of being estranged from her family due to her addiction issues, is finally ready to reconnect with them on Thanksgiving day.
She wants to cook her family a meal, and as she goes about her business we see how the different family members react to her, with some supportive of her new sobriety and others still dealing with the trauma she caused. This is a realistic and eye-opening look at the impact substance abuse can have on people and how the repercussions can last for years. Not the movie to watch if you want something light and fluffy, but well worth a look.Watch on Plex
5. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
We know, this film is about Christmas, but just remember it opens during Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. Now we’ve got that small detail out of the way, Miracle on 34th Street is a heartfelt story about family, belief, and hope that the whole family can watch. The 1947 original is great, but we lean towards the 1994 remake starring Richard Attenborough in the lead role of Kris, who may or may not be the real-life Santa Claus.
Reviews were mixed when the movie first came out, but over time Miracle on 34th Street has become a holiday regular thanks to the great script (co-written by John Hughes) and just as impressive support cast including Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, James Remar,Watch on Disney
6. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
If you’re after something stupid to watch, look no further. Comedian Kevin James is Paul Blart, a mall cop who takes his job a little too seriously. The single dad stumbles upon a gang of thieves looking to carry out a robbery on the eve of Black Friday. Blart then bumbles his way through the night as he tries to stop the crime from happening without getting himself killed.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop is as silly as you think, but James is great as the likable Blart, who finds himself in way over his head. He is great at physical comedy and really commits to the role. Savaged by critics, the movie went on to make a huge $183.3 million at the box office. The inevitable sequel came out in 2015 but is better off skipping.Watch on Prime
7. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)
Charlie Brown loves a holiday. Following on from the Christmas and Halloween specials, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving takes place during the annual holiday and features all your favorite Peanut characters. It’s a fun watch the kids will love and is full of family values and plenty of laughs.Watch on Prime
8. Scent of a Woman (1992)
A remake of an Italian movie, Scent of a Woman takes place during Thanksgiving break. Chris O’Donnell is hired to watch over Al Pacino’s blind retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. It seems like a simple job until O’Donnell discovers Pacino is an angry and bitter man who loves nothing better than stirring the pot, as is seen when he attends Thanksgiving dinner at his brother’s unannounced.
The relationship between O’Donnell and Pacino is key to this movie, with both learning something from each other about life and the human condition. Pacino would win Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his role, cementing his status as one of the greats. As well as being set around Thanksgiving, Scent of a Woman is a great New York movie, with almost 20 well-known suburbs, buildings, and landmarks featured.Watch on Prime
9. Holidate (2020)
Taking place over several holidays, this romantic comedy stars Emma Roberts as Sloane Benson and Luke Bracey as Jackson. The two play lost souls who find love in the strangest place. They meet and form a friendship and decide to be each other’s plus one for family functions and major holidays so everyone thinks they are paired up and stops asking about when they will find a partner.
As is the case with these types of films, the two begin to fall for each other and must overcome several obstacles before finally declaring their love for each other. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, but it’s the chemistry between Roberts and Bracey that makes Holidate an enjoyable flick.Watch on Netflix
See more about - The 15 Best Movies To Watch This Halloween
10. Friendsgiving (2020)
Written and directed by comedian Nicol Paone, Friendsgiving is a comedy about two friends Molly (Malin Åkerman) and Abby (Kat Dennings) having a low-key Thanksgiving together. This fails to eventuate when a load of other friends and strangers rock up and turn the duo’s quiet weekend into chaos.
Friendsgiving felt the wrath of the critics but has enough funny moments to appeal to most moviegoers. There is also the addition of Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, and Fortune Feimster as the Fairy Gay Mothers, who are all hilarious in this Thanksgiving flick.Watch on Netflix
11. You’ve Got Mail (1998)
After the success of their romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan reunite for You’ve Got Mail. Another soppy romance, this one finds Hanks and Ryan striking up an online romance, but unbeknownst to each other, they are business rivals in the real world.
This one is pretty predictable but helped by a script written by Delia Ephron and Nora Ephron, who also directed it. Hanks and Ryan are fantastic as always and the Thanksgiving scenes add a little festive season to the movie.Watch on Prime
12. Tower Heist (2011)
On Thanksgiving Day a rag-tag bunch joins forces to steal back the money of a group of residents in a high-rise tower who were cheated in a Ponzi scheme. This comedy, directed by Brett Ratner, features an all-star cast that includes Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Téa Leoni, Michael Peña, Judd Hirsch, and Gabourey Sidibe.
Tower Heist is an Ocean’s 11-style caper with a quality cast and some great jokes only let down by its plotting. A commendable return to form for Murphy too.Watch on Peacock
13. Lez Bomb (2018)
Set over Thanksgiving weekend, Lauren (Jenna Laurenzo, who writes, directs, and stars in Lez Bomb) heads home for the holidays with her girlfriend Hailey (Caitlin Mehner) intent on telling her family she is a lesbian. Things go south when Lauren’s roommate Austin (Brandon Michael Hall) shows up and the family mistakes him for Lauren’s boyfriend.
Chaos and hilarity ensue as Lauren pressures Austin to go along with things until she is finally ready to tell her parents the truth. While little seen, Lez Bomb was well received by critics and even won the Jury Award for Narrative Feature at the Bentonville Film Festival. It’s a funny movie with some serious themes that they will resonate with many.Watch on Tubi
14. The Myth of Fingerprints (1997)
A dysfunctional family gets together for Thanksgiving, signaling the return of one son who has been absent for three years. They laugh, cry, fight, and makeup in this family drama that also contains a little bit of sex. Because nothing says Thanksgiving like getting it on under the family roof.
Led by a solid cast of actors and actresses (Julianne Moore, Roy Scheider, Hope Davis, Noah Wyle, Blythe Danner, and Chris Bauer), The Myth of Fingerprints is a Sundance indie sure to bring a lot of joy to your Thanksgiving weekend.Watch on Tubi
15. The Blind Side (2009)
Sandra Bullock landed the Best Actress Award for her performance in this true life story. Michael “Big Mike” Ohe (Quinton Aaron) is a future NFL star living in poverty who finds safe haven with Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and her family. Shown the love he never had from his biological mom, Ohe slowly turns his life around as he seeks a high enough grade to enter college.
Although this movie has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, it does include a scene set during the festive day, which makes it worthy of a place on this list. It’s also just a really good film that tears at the heartstrings.Watch on HBOMax
16. The Oath (2018)
If your family is politically divided, whack on The Oath and show them how bad things could really get. In the near future, the American government asks all its citizens to sign a legal document pledging their allegiance to the United States. Couple Chris and Kai are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and must navigate the political minefield as different opinions are shared and the anger amongst everyone rises.
This black comedy will get you thinking and has a great cast that includes Ike Barinholtz (who wrote and directed the movie), Tiffany Haddish, John Cho, Carrie Brownstein, and Billy Magnussen.
17. Son in Law (1993)
Remember Pauly Shore? In the 90s the comedian was everywhere and starred in several successful comedies, including Son in Law. Shore is Crawl, a college advisor who attends Thanksgiving holidays with student Rebecca “Becca” Warner (Carla Gugino), and ends up pretending to be her partner to stop her actual boyfriend from proposing.
Yes, it’s preposterous but leads to plenty of laughs as Crawl tries to learn the family business (farming) while juggling his newfound feelings for Becca. This comedy didn’t win any awards and was blasted by the critics, but for anyone who loves dumb 90s comedies, Son in Law will be right up your alley.Watch on Hulu
18. Free Birds (2013)
Not to be confused with the Lynard Skynrd song, Free Birds is an animated movie featuring the voice talents of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, and more. Two turkeys head back in time to stop the pilgrims from eating turkey at the very first Thanksgiving dinner. What more could you want from an animated flick?
Despite poor reviews and a lackluster box office (a $110.4 million worldwide gross against a $55 million budget), Free Birds is a solid flick that will keep the kids happy for a few hours.Watch on Starz
See more about - The 18 Best Christmas Movies That Aren’t Actually Christmas Movies