Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, one where the entire point is for the family to get together and eat lots of food. But when the food is done, what can a group of people aged 3 to 103 all agree upon? Give thanks! This is why technology invented television and holiday-themed movies. Where once upon a time, all that was available was broadcast TV, today there are a plethora of streaming options with movies to watch on Thanksgiving appropriate for the entire family.
Most people in this instance would turn to Netflix for their selections, as it is the largest and most prolific of the streaming services out there. But this is one place where Netflix falls down on the job. There are plenty of Christmas-themed movies for the entire family on Netflix, and even a Hanukkah movie or two. But when it comes to Thanksgiving-themed fare, the truth is there's not much other than a random Friends episode. To find good old-fashioned family-friendly films set for the particular holiday at hand, the best places to look are places like Hulu, Amazon, and in one case, broadcast television, where one movie has played every single year for 45 years and counting.
Babes in Toyland
A long-standing TV movie for the holidays. Even if you've never seen it, it's a tradition worth starting. Here's the synopsis:
Two employees of a toymaker try to borrow money from their employer to pay off the mortgage on Mother Peep's shoe.
Babes In Toyland is available on Hulu.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
This is a time-honored tradition since 1973, celebrating 45 years. Here's the synopsis:
Peppermint Patty invites herself and her friends over to Charlie Brown's for Thanksgiving, and with Linus, Snoopy, and Woodstock, he attempts to throw together a Thanksgiving dinner.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is available on Amazon. It will also be broadcast on ABC the night before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. ET.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles
The mid-1980s classic, starring Steve Martin and John Candy. Here's the synopsis:
Neal Page is trying to get home to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving, but his flight is rerouted to a distant city in Kansas because of a freak snowstorm. He is forced to bunk up with talkative Del Griffith. Together they must overcome the insanity of holiday travel to reach their intended destination.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles is available on Amazon rentals.
Addams Family Values
The 1993 sequel is set at Thanksgiving and features Wednesday Addams as Pocahontas. Pity the colors of the wind. Here's the synopsis:
Gomez and Morticia celebrate the arrival of a baby boy. But siblings Wednesday and Pugsley are none too happy about the new addition and try their best to eliminate the infant. When nanny Debbie Jelinsky appears to keep the kids in line, her presence leads to an unexpected treacherous twist.
Addams Family Values is available on Hulu.
This movie from 2013 is far better than it has any right to be, mostly because it stars the voices of Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, and George Takei. Here's the synopsis:
Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.
Free Birds is available on Hulu.