10 best Thanksgiving movies to watch with your family


Clémence Michallon, Writer

For those who celebrate it, Thanksgiving is a busy affair – between catching up with relatives, making sure the stuffing isn’t burning and attempting to purchase a last-minute pie, the day often goes by in a flash – and yet, there’s always time to fill.

Perhaps you’re done watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Maybe the Westminster Dog Show – a Thanksgiving Day staple – hasn’t started yet. Or perhaps dinner is over and everyone wants to congregate in front of the TV and digest peacefully.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the 10 best Thanksgiving films to watch with your loved ones before, during or after the celebrations.

Some contain famous Thanksgiving scenes or references, while others are just heartwarming, family-friendly flicks.

  1. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019): You’ll have to head out to see this one, since it was just released in cinemas and isn’t yet available to stream. If you can find a screening in your area, this just might prove the ultimate Thanksgiving watch. It doesn’t get much more family-friendly than Tom Hanks starring as the universally loved Fred Rogers, host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The Independent’s review noted that it’s “hard not to be moved by the film’s warmth and kind heart” – just what’s needed on the third Thursday of November.
  2. Addams Family Values (1993): America’s favourite Goth family does Thanksgiving right. Cast as a Native American in a problematic play, Wednesday delivers an iconic monologue challenging the whitewashed version of the holiday as told by American folklore.
  3. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973): This Emmy-winning short first aired in 1973 and has become a Thanksgiving staple. If you’ve experienced a kitchen disaster at any point during the day, you might relate to Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock’s efforts to put together a feast despite their total lack of cooking skills. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is airing on Wednesday 27 November on ABC, and the programme is also available to stream on Vudu and Amazon Prime.
  4. You’ve Got Mail (1998): Let’s set the record straight on You’ve Got Mail’s infamous Thanksgiving-related scene. Tom Hanks’s character, who “rescues” Meg Ryan once she realises she’s stuck cashless at a cash-only register, is supposed to come off as charming – but rewatch the scene in 2019, with the benefit of hindsight, and you’ll realise he’s actually just a condescending jerk. However, the film’s overall holiday feel (plus the fact that the scene in question is filmed at the iconic Upper West Side grocer Zabar’s), make it a top choice for Thanksgiving.
  5. Rocky (1976): Yes, Rocky. While the film’s Thanksgiving scene is utterly depressing (Paulie has a fit and throws Adriene’s turkey through the window as Rocky watches on), it’s always fun to re-watch the 1976 classic that spawned the enduring Rocky/Creed film series.
  6. Sweet November (2001): We could tell you that this 2001 film stars Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron and leave it at that. However, we will add that the entire film is set in November and that part of its plot revolves around Thanksgiving, making it a top pic for the holiday. It is a sad flick, exploring the themes of love and terminal illness, so be prepared for an emotional viewing experience.
  7. Funny People (2009): Adam Sandler gives a touching Thanksgiving toast as George Simmons, a stand-up comedian who has been diagnosed with a likely fatal disease. “It kind of sucks being old, so just enjoy this. Enjoy time. Time slips away, I promise you,” he tells a crowd of younger people, among other bits of wisdom.
  8. Free Birds (2013): Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler voice this animated film about turkeys… traveling back in time to the first Thanksgiving to get themselves off the traditional menu. You read that right. One caveat: if you watch it with children, maybe take a few minutes to explain to them that they shouldn’t consider this goofy flick an accurate portrayal of the Thanksgiving story.
  9. Groundhog Day (1993): On a completely different note, this Bill Murray/Andie MacDowell classic makes for a great family watch. Granted, it’s set in February, meaning it doesn’t involve Thanksgiving or the holiday season per se, but it’s an ode to values such as kindness, self-improvement, love and empathy – all characteristics that lend themselves well to that time of the year.
  10. Toy Story (1995): The 1995 Pixar classic was released the day before Thanksgiving – so it’s only right to re-watch it on that day, 24 years later. It’s available to stream on Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Vudu.

You can read our explainer to understand the cultural and historical meaning behind the holiday, which falls this Thursday.

Weather predictions are also available ahead of the holiday weekend, which is typically a busy travel period.