Thanksgiving doesn’t usually generate as much holiday ruckus in Hollywood as Halloween or Christmas do. While it may not be Tinseltown’s favorite holiday, there are still several television shows and films that center on Turkey Day.
As you prepare to fill up on stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, I’ve whipped up a short list of favorite Thanksgiving moments on screen.
10. “The Mouse and the Mayflower” – I watched this made-for-TV movie growing up, and it’s probably my all-time favorite Thanksgiving story. The score really sets it apart from the rest, with original songs “November” and “Mayflower,” which my family and I always associate with the holiday. Families will love it for the cutesy mice and the fun little story about how Thanksgiving came to be.
9. “Pieces of April” – The once “Dawson’s Creek” star, Katie Holmes stars as April, the family oddball who is stressed about preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her entire clan in her small apartment with a broken oven. If anything, it’s kind of a hoot to see Holmes dressed in punk clothes.
8. “Everybody Loves Raymond” – Debra tries to get everyone to eat Tofurkey (tofu turkey) because its healthier for them, and, needless to say, it doesn’t go over well.
7. “South Park” – The kids have to perform in “Helen Keller” for their Thanksgiving Extravaganza, so of course they replace Helen Keller’s dog with a pet turkey. Absolutely hilarious. Plus, who wouldn’t be intrigued by “Helen Keller: The Musical”?
6. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – In the episode “Pangs,” Angel returns, Willow’s upset, Xander get a syphilis scare, Buffy makes a bear when really she’s trying to make dinner and Spike gives us hilarious insight to Thanksgiving. “I just can’t take all this namby-pamby boo-hooing about the bloody Indians. You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That’s what conquering nations do. That’s what Caesar did, and he’s not going around saying, ‘I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.’ The history of the world is not people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story.”
5. “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” – Who doesn’t love this TV special? Charlie, Linus, Woodstock and Snoopy throw together a last-minute dinner that Peppermint Patty happily invites herself over to. A classic holiday special for all ages.
4. “Friends” – A series known for its popular, guest-laden Thanksgiving episodes offers up some of the most hilarious plots around turkey time. One episode in particular, “The One with the Rumor,” guest stars Jennifer Aniston’s then-beau Brad Pitt as the former President of the “I Hate Rachel Green Club” from high school. Pure genius on the writers’ part and an all-around goofy dinner scene.
3. “The Ice Storm” – Set on Thanksgiving weekend of 1973, “The Ice Storm” focuses on a wealthy Connecticut family who seems to be living the dream, when really all the characters’ lives are falling apart. Beautifully acted by a stellar cast including a young Tobey Maguire, Elijah Wood and Christina Ricci, the film marks director Ang Lee’s American debut.
2. “Miracle on 34th Street” – Yes, the film is more associated with a different holiday, but the premise of “34th Street” revolves around the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC. The film remains a sentimental classic.
1. “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” – Steve Martin and John Candy are a comedic match made in heaven. This is the ultimate Thanksgiving movie where Martin is struggling to make it home in time for the holiday and encounters problems along the way – including several dysfunctional means of transportation. Candy, an obnoxious shower curtain ring salesman, eventually becomes Martin’s travel companion since they are both trying to get to Chicago. Hilarious and ultimately heartwarming, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is one of the season’s best.