in article about Thanksgiving movies, someone watching a TV with a turkey on it

10 Films To Get You in the Thanksgiving Mood

This holiday is so often unfairly overlooked, so here are some movies to help set the mood for the upcoming holiday season.
November 19, 2021
6 mins read

Thanksgiving is often dismissed: After the hype surrounding Halloween dies down, most people immediately begin looking forward to Christmas. Of course, since Christmas often takes more thought than other holidays, people forget about Thanksgiving. It is overlooked, considered bland, and may be easily trumped by more compelling holidays. However, there is something wonderful about the ordinariness of Thanksgiving.

There is no grand destination — whether it is your house or your grandmother’s, you are going to spend the day somewhere comfortable. Still, people get dressed up just to spend the day with their family, because gathering for a big meal is a beautiful thing. Thanksgiving should be appreciated for bringing people together and providing a reminder of the importance of family. These 10 movies perfectly encapsulate all of the feelings evoked by Thanksgiving. As you prepare for the holiday, be sure to check out these films.

1. “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

There are not many movies that focus on the importance of Thanksgiving — “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is one of the rare gems that does. The movie follows the journey of a businessman and a lovable goof in their attempt to get to New York for Thanksgiving. It is a delightful comedy that will absolutely get you and the whole family excited for the holiday.

2. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”

This is arguably the most popular movie associated with Thanksgiving — and for good reason. Released in 1973, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” has been giving viewers that warm, fuzzy feeling that is fondly associated with Thanksgiving for decades. As Thanksgiving is a holiday completely centered around spending time with your family, this film is a perfect choice. Your grandparents and parents may remember watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” when they were younger, which adds that perfect hint of nostalgia and helps to make it one of the go-to Thanksgiving movies.

3. “Little Women”

This movie perfectly sets a fall tone, as Greta Gerwig is an extremely talented director capable of evoking specific moods in her films. “Little Women” takes place in Concord, Massachusetts, during the 19th century. Fall is famously gorgeous in Massachusetts, and “Little Women” expresses that beauty. Multiple scenes take place outdoors with these rolling hills and orange trees. Additionally, there are scenes with extravagant meals laid out for the family to eat together. All of this, plus the strong focus on the importance of family time, allows the movie to tie in perfectly with Thanksgiving.

4. “Friendsgiving”

It is not easy to find an R-rated movie that focuses on Thanksgiving, as it is an extremely wholesome holiday. And while there is not much raunchy content that surrounds this family-oriented day, “Friendsgiving” is a movie that handles the holiday in a hilariously inappropriate way. This movie should be viewed with your friends — save one of the more family-friendly picks for your family. You can even throw a Friendsgiving party of your own and watch this together.

5. “Garfield’s Thanksgiving”

Garfield has provided lighthearted comedy to countless people since 1978. The animated special, “Garfield’s Thanksgiving,” follows Garfield’s multiple schemes to steal food — as per usual. The silly script and trademark pale “Garfield” color scheme offer comfort and delight. This film is the perfect thing to watch with your family on — or leading up to — Thanksgiving. The stress of holiday preparation will likely melt away as you gather and laugh at this goofy cat together.

6. “You’ve Got Mail”

This is a classic romance movie. It focuses on the time leading up to Thanksgiving and takes place in New York City, which adds to the magical feel of the movie. The captivating depictions of that beautiful time right before the holiday only elevate the film. It is the perfect mushy movie to put on to give yourself those warm, holiday feelings.

7. “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

This one is another perfect example of a gorgeous fall film. The color palette is full of oranges — since the main character is a fox — as well as browns, reds and yellows. Wes Anderson is the master of creating aesthetically pleasing movies, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is no exception. The beautiful outdoor scenes convey an undeniable fall mood. There is also an underlying focus on food in this movie: The ending is an (untraditional) celebratory feast — which, essentially, is Thanksgiving.

8. “Home for the Holidays”

For some people, it can be stressful to see certain family members on Thanksgiving. In “Home for the Holidays,” the audience watches the main character navigate Thanksgiving after getting a divorce and losing her job. Of course, despite good intentions, her family continues to say all of the wrong — and often hurtful — things, which can be relatable to plenty of people. Returning home from college and having to tell your family about a breakup, change in major or even the decision to leave your school are all uncomfortable situations. Watching “Home for the Holidays” is cathartic and hilarious — and perfect to watch if you are nervous about seeing your family this Thanksgiving.

9. “Grumpy Old Men”

This 1993 rom-com is often overlooked, and follows three men as they fight for a woman’s affection. The beginning of the film takes place before Thanksgiving, while Thanksgiving dinner becomes a plot point when one of the men gets to share the meal with their collective love interest. This movie is silly and sweet, like the holiday itself.

10. “Friends” Episode: “The One With the Football”

While this may not be a movie, it absolutely deserves a spot on this list. This episode of “Friends” is considered a classic. It is hilarious, heartfelt and perfectly captures the mixture of dysfunction and genuine love that most people experience on Thanksgiving, which makes this episode the perfect piece of Thanksgiving media.

Trinity Crompton, Molloy College

Writer Profile

Trinity Crompton

Molloy College

Trinity is a senior at Molloy College majoring in writing and minoring in journalism. She hopes to pursue a career in fashion journalism. She loves dachshunds, platform shoes and Stephen King novels.

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