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5 great movies to watch this Thanksgiving

What comes to mind when thinking about Thanksgiving? Family, food, and football are probably at the top of most people’s lists. After the Thanksgiving festivities wind down, you’ll probably be looking for a movie to watch with friends and family. There are plenty of directions you can go for movies, from Max’s movies for Thanksgiving to underrated movies on Hulu.

We selected a list of five great movies to watch this Thanksgiving. Our list includes a hilarious comedy about Thanksgiving travel, an animated classic, and a violent version of Santa Claus. For more ideas, check out the Digital Trends Christmas and Holiday program guide.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

John Candy and Steve Martin in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Paramount

The most famous Thanksgiving movie is arguably Planes, Trains and Automobiles, John Hughes’ 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. If anyone has ever traveled home for the Thanksgiving holiday, you know how stressful it can be, and no matter how many times you prepare for the worst, delays always happen. This anxious feeling is perfectly captured in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Neal Page (Martin) is an advertising executive on a business trip in New York City. With Thanksgiving two days away, Neal plans to board a flight to Chicago to see his family. Thanks to a blizzard, Neal’s flight is rerouted to Wichita, where he is forced to bunk with Del (Candy), a clumsy and kind shower curtain ring salesman. Neal and Del form an odd couple who constantly argue after multiple mishaps. However, Neal slowly realizes that to make it home in time, he will need Del’s help. That is if Neal can find it in his heart to show kindness toward Del.

Stream Planes, Trains and Automobiles on Paramount+.

Krisha (2015)

A family gathers around a turkey.
A24

For those looking for a heartwarming Thanksgiving story, Trey Edward Shults’ Krisha does not satisfy that criteria. If you’re willing to give Krisha a chance, you’ll be rewarded with a harrowing and effective look into how a family deals with an estranged member with a history of addiction. How much compassion should be shown before moving on?

Aunt Krisha (Krisha Fairchild) has battled drug and alcohol addiction for years, leading to a fractured relationship with her family, including her son, Trey (Trey Edward Shults). Promising she’s sober, Krisha wants to join her family on Thanksgiving and cook dinner for them. It’s an awkward reunion for Trisha upon her arrival, with many family members unsure how to act around her. Even though you can guess how the story will end for Krisha, that doesn’t make it any easier to watch a heartbreaking portrayal of a woman who can’t escape her demons.

Stream Krisha on Max.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

The Peanuts gang has a modest Thanksgiving meal together in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.
Lee Mendelson Film Productions

I’m fully aware that it’s cheating to put A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, a holiday special, on a list of movies to watch for the holiday. However, it’s Charlie Brown. It’s a boy who has taught millions about the reasons why we gather at the holidays. Charlie showed us that spending time with loved ones is important, and we must appreciate what we have, not what we don’t have. If those messages don’t sit well with you, that’s even more of a reason to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

In the 1973 special, Charlie and Sally Brown are heading to their grandma’s house for Thanksgiving dinner when Peppermint Patty invites herself and a few friends over. Before he can leave for his grandma’s house, Charlie cooks a makeshift non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the help of Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock. When the meal disappoints some of the guests, it serves as a gentle reminder of the meaning behind Thanksgiving.

Stream A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on Apple TV+.

Home Alone (1990)

A young boy waves hi.
20th Century Fox

It’s never too early to watch Home AloneWith Chris Columbus’ Christmas comedy serving as a family movie, I can’t think of a better time to watch it than Thanksgiving night. Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is an eight-year-old who constantly feels disrespected and neglected by his large family. The night before a family trip to Paris for the Christmas holiday, Kevin is forced to sleep in the attic, but not before wishing his family would disappear for good.

The next morning, Kevin wakes up to see his family has disappeared. In actuality, the McCallisters forgot Kevin and flew to Paris without him. Kevin enjoys his newfound freedom until two thieves (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister home. Even though he can’t reach the top shelf, Kevin builds a series of traps to thwart the robbery. Will it be enough to save his home?

Stream Home Alone on Disney+.

Violent Night (2022)

David Harbour, dressed as Santa Claus, leans against a sleigh.
Universal Pictures

Who said Santa had to be nice? In Violent Night, Saint Nick (David Harbour) loses his Christmas spirit and seeks solace at the bottom of a beer glass. When Santa arrives at a wealthy estate, he learns that a team of mercenaries is holding a family hostage. The mercenaries are referred to by Christmas code names, with their leader named Mr. Scrooge (John Leguizamo). One of the hostages is Trudy (Leah Brady), a young girl who still believes in Santa.

What the hostages didn’t prepare for is Santa Claus, who fights back by any means necessary, even if it involves killing the mercenaries. Directed by Tommy Wirkola, Violent Night is an entertaining Christmas action film for an older crowd. Make sure the kids are asleep before putting this on.

Stream Violent Night on Prime Video.

Editors' Recommendations

Dan Girolamo
Dan is a passionate and multitalented content creator with experience in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. Throughout…
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