November 23, 2020
It doesn’t matter whether you’re renting a cabin or visiting your hometown—the best pregame for a Thanksgiving feast is watching a classic flick with the people you love and cherish. As soon as everyone is done preparing California-grown side dishes and delectable fall desserts, curl up on the couch to watch a movie or two to get everyone in the holiday spirit.
From cult classics to heartwarming comedies, these Thanksgiving movies portray all sorts of family dynamics that’ll give you the feels. So, put on your holiday-themed pajamas, prepare pumpkin spice hot chocolate, and binge these feel-good films that’ll make you feel thankful for the family you have.
The Best Thanksgiving Movies
1. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Everybody knows that A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the best Thanksgiving movie out there. The animated film is centered on the holiday dinner, where everything goes south because Charlie Brown doesn’t know how to prepare food. As much as we all love buttered toast, pretzel sticks, popcorn, jelly beans, and ice-cream sundaes, the snacks can never live up to be a true Turkey Day feast. Conceived by the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who lived in Santa Rosa, this classic movie never fails to please the family.
While the events of this family favorite don’t take place during the holiday, Beethoven has somehow become one of the best Thanksgiving movies. We’re not sure whether it’s because of the loving Newton family or because of our obsession with this adorable St. Bernard, but we’re more than happy to watch the uplifting film on Thanksgiving Day. The house from the movie is located in South Pasadena, which bears a striking resemblance to the 7th Heaven home (they’re actually about 25 miles apart from each other). As the events of the film unfold, we learn about the unconventional bond of the Newton family and their beloved four-legged family member.
3. What’s Cooking?
Set in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District, What's Cooking is about four ethnically diverse households celebrating the holiday amidst family tensions. Each family has its own set of problems—hidden affairs, sibling rivalry, estranged family members, controlling parents...the list goes on. As more is revealed about each family, we see that they’re as diverse in their T-Day menus and traditions as they are entertaining in their manners. The culturally rich Thanksgiving movie focuses on the importance of family, despite all of the drama that sometimes comes with it.
Classic Thanksgiving Movies
1. Addams Family Values
Although frequently associated with Halloween, Addams Family Values teaches us a lesson about what really went down in history. Filmed in Pasadena, this classic Thanksgiving movie forced the stone-cold Wednesday Addams to smile—downright spookier than her actual character. The girl with the deadpan wit rewrites the events set around the nation’s first time the Pilgrims broke bread with the Native Americans in her Sequoia Lake school production. Staging a coup and escaping summer camp, she joins the rest of her family to save Uncle Fester from marrying a gold digger. With more macabre antics than the first movie, the Thanksgiving day movie surpasses its predecessor in conveying the titular family’s eccentricity.
2. Mrs. Doubtfire
The ultimate feel-good Thanksgiving movie is none other than Mrs. Doubtfire. It has many of our favorite actors and actresses—Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Mara Wilson, and the late Robin Williams. Set in San Francisco, the film tells the story of Daniel Hillard, a recently divorced voice actor who disguises himself as a female housekeeper so he can interact with his kids. Despite the fact that the events of Mrs. Doubtfire don’t take place during the holiday, the movie addresses themes of divorce and separation and how they influence the family dynamic. It’s the perfect movie to watch on Thanksgiving day to keep everyone entertained and feeling grateful.
3. Funny People
Directed by Judd Apatow and filmed in Los Angeles, Funny People follows George Simmons, a retired comedian-turned-actor who’s diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. In an effort to fix the relationships in his life, he befriends aspiring comedian Ira Wright and takes him under his wing as his opening act. Portraying considerable emotional depth along with ironic humor, the film is a wonderful reminder to be grateful, because no one truly knows how long they have left to live. With a pivotal and heartfelt moment around a T-Day table, Funny People has gradually become a classic Thanksgiving movie.
4. Rocky Film Series
If Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then Rocky and its five sequels are definitely Thanksgiving movies. Almost all of the movies came out either the week of Thanksgiving or right around Christmas, even though we don’t see any of the characters gathering for a holiday feast. So, then why are they everyone’s go-to movies to watch on Thanksgiving? While they are boxing films, they go beyond throwing punches and winning championships; they remind us of the importance of family at all costs—turning to the people closest to you to give you strength. These are common themes found throughout the entire series. The iconic scene from Rocky III, where Rocky and Apollo race each other along the beach, was filmed right by the Santa Monica Pier.
Titles To Add To Your Thanksgiving Movies List
1. The Nutty Professor
The holiday calls for a Thanksgiving movie that’ll get everybody laughing, and The Nutty Professor is the perfect choice for that. This 90s slapstick sci-fi features one of the best performances by Eddie Murphy, who portrays seven different characters in the movie (which was filmed at UCLA and other locations throughout Los Angeles). Loosely based on the gothic novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the film follows university professor Sherman Klump, who creates a formula that makes people lose weight easily. Hoping to win the affection of his dream girl, he tries it himself and ends up developing an evil alter ego. Always making the family shake with laughter, The Nutty Professor is a must-add to your Thanksgiving movies list.
2. Sweet November
Sweet November stars Internet boyfriend Keanu Reeves and femme fatale Charlize Theron in a romantic drama about life-changing experiences. The movie is as gooey as it gets; Nelson is a workaholic executive who meets Sara, an unconventional woman who persuades him to spend a month with her. She promises she will change his life for the better. Little does he know, Sara has terminal cancer. As they spend all of November in San Francisco together, they fall in love and share many happy moments. None of us is ready when the time comes to say goodbye. The tear-jerker definitely deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving movies list.
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