The Best Thanksgiving Movies You’ll Actually Enjoy Watching
Watching movies over the Thanksgiving holiday is tradition in our home. There’s just something about snuggling up on the couch with my husband, two boys and Bichon puppy and a warm cozy blanket, that gets me in the mood for winter.
Some of these movies are favorites to watch with the kids. Others are favorites to watch with the hubs or other adults. I’ve rated each one so you can easily decide.
The movies on this list are either films that feature Thanksgiving, or have become a tradition to watch on Thanksgiving. I had help from family and friends creating this list. I hope you enjoy this list of what we consider the best Thanksgiving movies.
THANKSGIVING MOVIES – RATED G
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1965)
Oh, Charlie! Another day, another adventure. While the gang’s Christmas special is probably the most famous installment in the T.V. series, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is an equally heartwarming tale that’s worth watching over and over. The Emmy-winning episode has all the Thanksgiving essentials: football (well, Charlie Brown’s pitiful attempts at the game), delicious meals and, of course, a bit of bickering amongst the Peanuts. As the kids try to whip up a meal of their very own, Peppermint Patty is less than impressed with the menu of buttered toast, popcorn and jellybeans.
Alvin and the Chipmunks – Alvin’s Thanksgiving Celebration (2008)
Think you can handle Alvin, Simon and Theodore’s super high-pitched voices for a little over an hour? If you’re up to the challenge—and lets face, it, you’ll do anything for those kiddos of yours—you might switch on this gem: Alvin’s Thanksgiving Celebration. Believe it or not, Dave is getting married—and there’s a lot that goes on there! The Chipmunks will also explore some famous momens in U.S. history, too.
Turkey Hollow (2015)
The Emmerson family heads to the quaint town of Turkey Hollow to visit Aunt Cly. Tim and Annie quickly grow bored without the Internet, and soon try to track the howling hoodoo, an elusive monster the locals dismiss as a legend.
Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale (1994)
A Disney film that is very loosely based on the actual historical Native American figure Squanto, and his life prior to and including the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620. So if you want your child to learn about the real events, this may not be the movie to share with them since it is loosely based on historical events. The movie concludes with the first Thanksgiving.
The National Tree (2009)
A teenager has his Sitka Spruce tree chosen to be planted outside the White House as the new national Christmas Tree.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Although it tops most classic Christmas movie lists, Miracle on 34th Street actually opens at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. When Kris Kringle must stand in for an inebriated Santa Claus in the annual extravaganza, he finds a newfound career as New York’s most popular holiday icon—until his sanity comes into question when he starts claiming he really is Santa.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Watching a movie where “there’s no place like home” is fitting for a holiday all about being thankful for who and what you have in your life. Dorothy Gale is swept away from a farm in Kansas to a magical land of Oz in a tornado and embarks on a quest with her new friends to see the Wizard who can help her return home to Kansas and help her friends as well.
THANKSGIVING MOVIES RATED PG-13, OR RATED PG
The Blind Side (2009)
When an African-American boy from a poor neighborhood is taken in by a wealthy Tenneessee woman, life changes for both of them. Thanks to Leigh Anne Touhy (Bullock) and her family, “Big Mike” Oher is given an opportunity to put his athleticism and protective instincts to use on the football field, eventually becoming a first-round NFL draft pick. A Thanksgiving Day scene when Big Mike causes the family to pause and appreciate their meal and one another is particularly touching—one that might even convince your family to flick off the game for a while next year.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
You and your loved ones might be chowing down on drumsticks and loading up on Thanksgiving carbs, but there are some professions that cannot skip work, even on a holiday. A mall cop just so happens to be one of those fields, as Paul Blart proves. He takes his role quite seriously, even if everyone else doesn’t seem to think his work is a top priority. After you’ve settled in with dessert, get ready to LOL as Blart (Kevin James) takes on the mall’s threat—aka Santa’s helpers—as they take shoppers, including his daughter and girlfriend, hostage. How’s that for holiday mayhem? Rated PG.
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Two business rivals who despise each other in real life unwittingly fall in love over the Internet. This charming remake of 1940’s The Shop Around the Corner spans all seasons—including fall — and features a Thanksgiving scene.
Home for the Holidays (1995)
This comedy/drama hybrid stars Holly Hunter as Claudia, a down-on-her-luck single mother who returns to her parents’ Baltimore home for a bit of comfort over the holidays. However, her dysfunctional family provides anything but. Her sister Joanne’s attitude and dramatic brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.) stir up trouble, and on top of it all, her daughter Kitt (Claire Danes) decides to spend the holiday with her boyfriend. This film is an after-dinner flick for families with kids on the older side, but is sure to draw some laughs.
Curly Sue (1994)
Try not to fall in love with the adorable heroine of this John Hughes film, who assists a homeless man in conning people for food and shelter (you’ll be extra thankful for that big Thanksgiving meal after watching).
Grumpy Old Men (1993)
Two old men who have hated each other since they were kids now have a mutual love interest, which makes for the most hilarious Thanksgiving Day scene.
Having gotten a taste of college life, a drastically changed farm girl returns home for Thanksgiving break with her best friend, a flamboyant party animal who is clearly a fish out of water in a small farm town.
Cast Away (2000)
Cast Away is a dramatic story of an ordinary man facing an extraordinary situation. Tom Hanks, playing as a FedEx delivery supervisor, is called and asked to leave his family’s Thanksgiving dinner to take charge of deliveries. With a heavy heart, he obeys and drives himself to the airport. Little does he know that his plane will unfortunately crash into the ocean. What happens with the rest of the movie is enough to make anyone grateful for what and who they have around them.
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008)
In the late 1880’s, a widowed mother of three struggles to keep her family intact and to put food on the table. The oldest daughter sends a letter to her estranged, very wealthy grandmother urging her assistance, much to her mother’s disapproval. When the grandmother arrives, old wounds are opened but eventually healed. From a story by Louisa May Alcott. Stars Jacqueline Bisset, Ted Atherton, Tatiana Maslany, Helene Joy, Paula Boudreau, and Michael Barbuto.
Holiday Engagement (2011)
Afraid to tell her family she’s been dumped, Hillary hires an actor to play her fiancé during a four-day Thanksgiving weekend at her parents’ house.
The New World (2005)
No, it doesn’t feature a storybook pilgrims-and-Native Americans feast. Nonetheless, Terrence Malick’s 2005 drama–about the founding of Virginia’s Jamestown settlement, and the mythical romance that blossoms between British Captain John Smith (Colin Farrell) and Native American Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher)–is the lyrical, haunting story of America’s birth, and thus the ideal masterpiece to experience on Thanksgiving.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)
For those of you who love to start Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, you can launch into the Christmas spirit with the Griswold family. This movie is a tradition for my husband and I as well love to watch the Griswold’s attempt to host a big family Christmas party that ultimately turns into a disaster.
THANKSGIVING MOVIES RATED R
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry: There’s something so heartwarming about this classic movie that follows two men as they try to make it home for Thanksgiving. Steve Martin and the late John Candy are such a fun mismatched duo in this movie.
The Big Chill (1983)
When a disparate group of friends reunite at the funeral of one of their close college friends, they reminisce about old times—including a Thanksgiving feast—and deal with feelings of regret, insecurity and disillusionment. The star-studded cast includes JoBeth Williams, Glenn Close, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Meg Tilly, and Kevin Kline.
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Charlie Simms is a student at an exclusive New England prep school. Unlike most of his peers, Charlie was not born to a wealthy family. To pay for a flight home to Oregon for Christmas, Charlie accepts a temporary job over Thanksgiving weekend looking after retired Army Ranger Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, whom Charlie discovers to be a cantankerous, blind alcoholic.
Nobody’s Fool (1994)
Nobody’s Fool is one of the last great headlining vehicles for Paul Newman, who here stars as an upstate New York construction-worker hustler in constant conflict with a contractor (Bruce Willis) whose wife (Melanie Griffith) he fancies. His routine is upended by the arrival of his estranged son (Dylan Walsh) around Thanksgiving, leading to an amusing (and disarming) holiday-set character study about loneliness, reconciliation, and the unexpected ways people achieve contentment.
The House of Yes (1997)
Based on a play by Wendy MacLeod, this absurdiust dark comedy follows a young man (Josh Hamilton) who brings his new fiancée (Tori Spelling) home for Thanksgiving to introduce her to his family, including his mentally ill, Jackie Kennedy-obsessed younger sister (Parker Posey) with a jealous streak. It’s decidedly not dinner table fodder.