Ready or not, Thanksgiving is here. Some of us will stuff ourselves silly right alongside family members, dear and not so dear. (Those who haven’t been driven apart by the recent election results, that is.) Some will eat, drink and laugh it up with friends. (Those who haven’t been driven apart by the recent election results, that is.) Some will ride out the day solo, soak in the NFL triple-header or just ignore the hell out of the occasion. But somewhere between lapsing into a food coma and calling it a night, many of us will require another kind of refuge. Hollywood is here to help.
Compared to the Christmas holiday, Thanksgiving-centric movies haven’t been all that all good, let alone plentiful–we’re looking at you, stodgy 1952 cable TV staple The Plymouth Adventure. But here are a few that are guaranteed to help ease you through the bloat of too much pie, cranberry sauce and stuffing—and, of course, the sheer strain of keeping a civil tongue in your head.
PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES
Steve Martin and John Candy bat it out of the park in John Hughes’ odd couple road comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles playing luckless snowbound strangers thrown together during Thanksgiving.
Understandably much less known but still worth a shot is another unlikely friendship-on-the-fly movie, the John Hughes-written Dutch starring Ed O’Neill as a working-class dad stuck with his daughter’s snobby prep school boyfriend from Atlanta to Chicago.
HANNAH & HER SISTERS
If you’re looking for darker cuts of Thanksgiving family angst, it’s tough to top Woody Allen’s masterpiece Hannah and Her Sisters about three sibs (Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey and Dianne Wiest) struggling to keep it together on several successive Thanksgivings.
THE ICE STORM
Likewise, most anyone would feel better about their own families after watching director Ang Lee’s scalpel-like take on novelist Rick Moody’s study of suburban anguish The Ice Storm, in which the infidelities, troubles, and resentments of Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire and Cristina Ricci come to a head when they’re snowed-in.
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Director Jodie Foster has yet to make a better, funnier, more emotionally solid movie than Home For the Holidays which sends in-crisis Holly Hunter back to her absurd, all too human family that includes self-involved brother Robert Downey Jr. (stealing the show), paranoid mother Anne Bancroft, dotty father Charles Durning, conservative sister Cynthia Stevenson and insane aunt Geraldine Chaplin. Favorite line: “That’s what the holiday is: torture.”
PIECES OF APRIL
Pieces of April, written and directed by Peter Hedges, stars a never-better Katie Holmes as a punkish, screw-up daughter who invites her dying mom and estranged family for a holiday bash before discovering the oven in her rat-hole apartment is broken and the turkey has been taken hostage.
THE BLIND SIDE
There won’t be a dry eye in the living room after this great T-Day movie, in which Sandra Bullock and her husband played by Tim McGraw take in a homeless, traumatized 17-year-old kid (Quinton Aaron) for his first Thanksgiving dinner.
Come on. Give these movies a shot. After all, how many times can you watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving?