Thanksgiving meals take hours, sometimes days to prepare (unless, of course, you’re getting takeout). Whether you’re waiting for the turkey to finish cooking or the turkey already made you sleepy, good Thanksgiving movies are a must.
This year, the holiday falls on Thursday, Nov. 24. While you gather cooking tips and new recipes, collect a few pop culture recommendations, too in the form of a list of Thanksgiving movies — ranging from picks for kids and families to comedy flicks that you’ll want to watch every Thanksgiving.
Queue up some animated classics like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” PG family-friendly live action movies like “The Mighty Ducks,” Disney movies on Disney Plus (a lot of them), and all that Netflix has to offer.
There are classics, like “Planes Trains & Automobiles,” and hidden gems like “Dutch” _ that some consider the ultimate Thanksgiving movie.
And most of all, there’s something for you.
‘Soul Food’ (1997)
Vivica A. Fox, Vanessa Williams and Nia Long star as estranged sisters who reunite to spend Thanksgiving with their mother, Big Mama, who falls into a coma. She was the glue holding the family together, so her absence nearly brings the family to blows before they figure out how to get along.
‘For Your Consideration’ (2006)
“For Your Consideration” is all about a fictional film as it vies for Oscar nominations. At some point it’s retitled “Home for Thanksgiving” to help its Oscar chances, or so the cast and crew think.
‘An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving’ (2008)
“An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” is loosely based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott in which a widow, Mary Bassett (played by Helene Joy), cannot afford to have a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner with her three kids. Her wealthy mother, whom Mary cannot stand, somehow catches wind of it and arrives at Mary’s home to help, which Mary resents.
‘Lez bomb’ (2018)
Lauren is finally ready to share her sexuality with her family by introducing her partner to them on Thanksgiving. But every time she tries to, there’s some type of distraction that thwarts her efforts.
‘Pieces of April’ (2003)
April Burns (Katie Holmes) invites her family to spend Thanksgiving with her in her tiny New York City apartment. They are physically so close to each other, but couldn’t be further away emotionally and socially.
60-something-year-old Krisha has become sober after a history of addiction and wishes to reconnect with her family, with whom she has an estranged relationship. She arrives at her sister’s house where everyone is staying in hopes of winning them over.
‘Stuck In Love’ (2012)
It’s one tumultuous year for the characters in “Stuck In Love,” but somehow an estranged family finds a place of peace after it all.
‘The Humans’ (2021)
Three generations of Bakers spend Thanksgiving in lower Manhattan. There’s more tension than turkey, though, and a lot of familial fractures that they must work through before they can actually enjoy each other’s company.
‘Our Father’s Keeper’ (2020)
“Our Father’s Keeper” pulls on the heart strings in showing arguing family members who attempt to care for their dying patriarch as he forgets who they are.
‘Tower Heist’ (2011)
It’s really not Thanksgiving without some drama and “Tower Heist” is just that when a rag-tag group of unlikely friends tries to con a con-man out of $2 billion.
Dutch Dooley (Ed O’Neil) volunteers to pick up his new girlfriend’s son from school. Little does he know, he has a new formidable foe in the form of a pre-teen. “Dutch” is a story about dysfunction that can come with blending families and the awe-inspiring power of a brat.
‘Funny People’ (2009)
Life gets put into perspective in “Funny People” fast after heralded comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) learns he has a fatal disease. To preserve his legacy, he starts imparting all his tricks of the trade to struggling performer Ira (Seth Rogen). The experience breathes new life into Simmons — literally and figuratively.
‘The Blind Side’ (2009)
“The Blind Side” tell the true story of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless teenager who’s fallen behind in school and in life. A local couple — Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Sean (Tim McGraw) — invite Oher to live with them and go to school with their two kids. They help get him on the football team, which becomes a pathway to a new life and career.
‘The Oath’ (2018)
Dark humor is on full display in “The Oath,” a comedy starring Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz in which a dystopian government makes Thanksgiving day a deadline to declare loyalty or face consequences.
‘Alice’s Restaurant’ (1969)
“Alice’s Restaurant” is a dramatic comedy starring folk singer Arlo Guthrie as Arlo Guthrie. Guthrie plays a college student who has avoided being drafted into the military. He’s fresh off leaving college, having a Friendsgiving and falling in love when a simple mistake gets him on the police’s radar.
“Friendsgiving” is has surprises in the form of unexpected house guests, unwanted changes in events and a resurfacing of problems previously solved. The ensemble film stars Malin Åkerman, Kat Dennings, Aisha Tyler, Chelsea Peretti, Christine Taylor, Jane Seymour, Wanda Sykes and Deon Cole.
‘The Turkey Bowl’ (2019)
“The Turkey Bowl” is a sports comedy in which rival high school football teams in a rural community hash out old beef in a rematch of their classic football tournament, the eponymous Turkey Bowl. The game will settle 15 years of unfinished business, but the stakes become even higher than that as the movie unfolds.
‘Sweet November’ (2001)
“Sweet November” is a film adaptation of a 1968 book of the same name. There are endless Christmas romances — but here’s a Thanksgiving one. In the 30 days of November, Charlize Theron’s character goes through a short-lived, but deep, romance with Keanu Reeves’.
‘Autumn in New York’ (2000)
This dramatic rom-com will tug at the heartstrings. In the movie, a notorious playboy falls in love with a young women facing a fatal illness. “Autumn in New York” stars Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, and Anthony LaPaglia
‘Instant Family’ (2018)
“Instant Family” is the quintessential example of how Thanksgiving dinners can be full of pressing questions no one wants to answer. Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne play new parents who adopt three siblings after years of saying they’d never have children. Becoming an “instant family” isn’t easy.
‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ (1973)
It doesn’t get any more on-brand than this holiday classic, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” from 1973. Peppermint Patty invites everyone over to Charlie Brown’s for Thanksgiving for an iconic scene of them all sitting around the table together to eat and discuss the holiday like only kids can.
‘Home for the Holidays’ (1995)
In “Home for the Holidays,” Holly Hunter plays Claudia Larson, a middle-aged mother whose daughter makes Thanksgiving plans without her. Left alone, Larson returns to her childhood home with her dysfunctional family who gets on her nerves, but she ends up remembering the importance of family — and finding a new love.
‘Garfield’s Thanksgiving’ (1989)
In “Garfield’s Thanksgiving,” the cat’s owner puts him on a diet right before Thanksgiving. Of course, Garfield isn’t having that, so he cooks up ways to still get the food portions he’s usually spoiled with.
‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998)
Nothing washes down turkey like a romantic comedy to rally behind. Tom Hanks stars alongside Meg Ryan as two New Yorkers who meet online without knowing they are actually business rivals in real life.
Watching NFL and NBA games on Thanksgiving day is a tradition, for many. When the games end, start your own overtime with “Hoosiers,” a classic underdog tale of a college basketball team in Indiana and its unlikely rise.
‘The Peanuts Movie’ (2015)
After watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” you may be nostalgic for more Peanuts characters. “The Peanuts Movie” is a newer spin on the characters, starring Noah Schnapp of “Stranger Things” as Charlie Brown.
‘The Mighty Ducks’ (1992)
In “Mighty Ducks,” a disgruntled lawyer is ordered to perform community service and ends up coaching a kids hockey team. By the end, the job hardly feels like work.
‘Little Women’ (2019)
Thanksgiving is all about coming together — and when that happens, drama occasionally follows. The latest “Little Women” adaptation is the definition of cozy, with the four March sisters (Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen) helping each other through loves and disappointments in Massachusetts during the Civil War era.
‘A Family Thanksgiving’ (2010)
Thanks to some holiday magic, Claudia (Daphne Zuniga) has a chance to see what her life could look like with a few tweaks. In the Hallmark movie, Claudia goes from high-powered lawyer looking for a promotion to a wife and mother trying to cope with her new responsibilities. Is there a place she can meet in the middle?
‘Toy Story 4’ (2019)
Or, just make it a “Toy Story” marathon. “Toy Story 4” rounds out a series of beloved Pixar movies about sentient toys whose owners severely underestimate their capacity for adventure. Warning: You will cry.
‘Free Birds’ (2013)
“Free Birds” is a Thanksgiving caper told from a turkey’s point of view. In the movie, a turkey named Reggie (Owen Wilson) is pardoned by the president to live life without fear of being eaten for Thanksgiving. He partners with Jake (Woody Harrelson), another turkey, to travel back in time to 1621, before the first Thanksgiving, to stop the bird from becoming the holiday’s trademark dish.
Nothing says Thanksgiving like good eating! “Ratatouille,” a Paris-set Pixar movie, is a celebration of just that. Remy is an aspiring chef … who also happens to be a rat. He tries to climb the culinary ladder, despite encountering skepticism from every angle.
‘National Treasure’ (2004)
Thanksgiving is a holiday centered around an American story – and “National Treasure” is the story of one very famous American document. Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) is on the hunt for a treasure only rumored to exist and in his pursuit discovers a string of clues located on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ (2009)
Every Thanksgiving has a little Christmas sprinkled into it. “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” is a good segue movie for celebrating both occasions. Paul Blart (Kevin James) is routinely ridiculed for taking his job as a security guard at the mall too seriously. But when he’s the only one left to save shoppers from a mall Santa gone rogue, everyone relies on him.
‘Addams Family Values’ (1993)
This fun dramedy is great for pre-turkey laughs while dinner is still cooking. In “Addams Family Values,” the family is celebrating the birth of a new baby … well, some of them are, while others try to remove the baby and keep the family how it was before the birth.
‘We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story’ (1993)
How Thanksgiving is done in small towns is very different from how it’s celebrated in big cities. “We’re Back: A Dinosaur’s Story” shows four dinosaur friends leaving their small city for an adventure in the Big Apple that even they aren’t quite big enough to handle.
‘Miracle on 34th Street’ (1947)
Imagine if one of the many Santas-for-hire in the United States was actually the real deal? Susan Walker (played by a young Natalie Wood) is convinced that the jovial man (Edmund Gwenn) she meets at a Macy’s might really be Santa, and tries to convince the world to believe her.
‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ (1987)
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving in the northeast without unpredictable weather, specifically in the midwestern region. Unfortunately, Neal Page (Steve Martin) in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” may miss his Thanksgiving plans after his flight to Chicago is cancelled and he’s rerouted to a random city in Kansas. He hits every road block imaginable when trying to make it home, and learns a lot along to way.
“Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving” (1999)
This hour-long Winne the Pooh special tells three stories: “GroundPiglet Day,” “A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving” and “Find Her, Keep Her.” The stories share the importance of Thanksgiving and soften the fraught history behind it.
‘A Looney Tunes Thanksgiving’ (2014)
“A Looney Tunes Thanksgiving” serves up a feast of laughs with two segments, “Bugs Bunny’s Thanksgiving Diet” and “Daffy Duck’s Thanks-for-giving Special.” They take an unconventional approach to a traditional holiday, but it works.
‘Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow’ (2015)
And last but not least in TODAY’s Thanksgiving movie pack is “Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow.” Tag along as the Emmerson family tries to track down an elusive monster some don’t even believe exist.
This story will be updated with more movie faves as Thanksgiving approaches.