Movie fans can easily list their favorite Christmas movies, rom-coms, sports movies…but Thanksgiving movies? It’s not exactly a big genre. But maybe it should. Vacationers with a big dinner are all set to flop on the couch and watch something. Here’s a rundown of the 10 best Thanksgiving-related movies, along with information on where to see them. (Sadly, Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant is not streaming, or it would be included here.)
Warning: Spoilers for some of the movies ahead.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles may be the most famous Thanksgiving movie of all Thanksgiving movies. The 1987 comedy was directed by John Hughes, who directed practically everything in the 1980s, and stars Steve Martin and John Candy as two travelers who strike up an unlikely friendship as Martin tries to get home for Thanksgiving. Martin and Lett Candy have the perfect personalities to play this odd couple, making the film a charming and delightful Thanksgiving treat.
Where to watch: It’s free if you have Paramount Plus, or you can rent it on several streaming sites, including Prime Video, YouTube and AppleTV.
Spike Lee’s first full-length feature is 1986’s She’s Gotta Have It. (It’s in black and white, but a fan has apparently colored the scene below.) Nola Darling (Tracey Camilla Jones) is a Brooklyn graphic artist who is evoking three men who all join an awkward Thanksgiving dinner. Lee adapted the film into a Netflix series that ran for two seasons from 2017-2019. Note that Lee himself later regretted one of the rape scenes in the film, and it was not used in the series.
Where to watch: Both the film and the series are on Netflix.
Forget turkey and stuffing. Anyone who’s seen the Emmy Award-winning 1973 movie A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving knows it’s not a real Thanksgiving without popcorn, jelly beans, pretzels and toast.
Where to watch: Apple TV Plus.
The original Rocky has a Thanksgiving scene, and if it’s not full of family warm fuzzies, take any excuse to watch (or rewatch) the 1976 Best Picture winner about a struggling Philly boxer who overcomes all odds. Star Sylvester Stallone reportedly wrote the screenplay in three days, but it’s been an American tale for more than 45 years.
Where to watch: You can rent it on Apple TV, Prime Video, YouTube and other streaming sites.
Sure, Miracle on 34th Street is a famous Christmas movie. But it starts on Thanksgiving, and since you’re probably looking at it after you’ve carved the turkey and put the pies in the fridge, it’s time to start the Christmas season.
Where to watch: Free for subscribers on Disney Plus or Prime Video, or for rent on many streaming services.
Muppet creator Jim Henson died in 1990, but his namesake company, run by his children, is still making movies and shows. Rapper Ludacris narrates Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow, a Thanksgiving-set family-friendly movie, featuring goofy monsters that will be familiar to any Muppet fan.
Where to watch: Buy it on Prime Video for 49 cents (for standard definition).
Not many Grumpy Old Men center around Thanksgiving, but the 1993 comedy still makes the list. You can gather with older generations for Thanksgiving, and this comedy set in Minnesota is one of the few that recognizes the friendships, romances, and feuds of many veterans. Star Ann-Margret is still with us at 81, but Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, of course, are gone.
Where to watch: Watch it with a subscription to Paramount Plus, or rent it on YouTube or Apple TV.
Barry Levinson’s 1990 coming-to-America saga, Avalon, has a Thanksgiving scene that many people quote when someone is late to their own family gathering. (“You cut the turkey without me?”) That scene aside, this beautiful family drama is a period piece they don’t make anymore, and young Thanksgiving kids can learn a lot about their ancestors by watching it.
Where to watch: Rent it on Prime Video, Apple TV, or YouTube.
Al Pacino won an Oscar for Scent of a Woman, a 1992 drama starring Chris O’Donnell as a prep student hired to look after Pacino’s character, blind and controversial Vietnam War veteran Lt. Col. Frank Slade. It is at Thanksgiving dinner that the audience learns the cause of Slade’s blindness.
Where to watch: Rent on Prime Video, Apple TV or YouTube.
Addams Family Values is the 1993 sequel to 1991’s The Addams Family, which brought the outrageously funny TV characters of the 1960s to the big screen. It may sound like a Halloween flick, but there’s a great Thanksgiving scene featuring everyone’s favorite Addams, Wednesday (Christina Ricci).
Where to watch: Stream it for free if you subscribe to Netflix or Paramount Plus, or rent it on Prime Video, YouTube, or AppleTV.
Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more
View all photos