No film can really capture the true Thanksgiving experience but these Turkey Day-themed movies, are as close as it’s going to get.
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (1987)
With Steve Martin and John Candy at their comic apexes, this one is charming and hilarious any time of year. Martin is a Madison Avenue advertising executive who couldn’t be more different than the traveling shower curtain ring salesmen (Candy) on whom he depends to get back to his family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. One of the best (and most touching) of the buddy/roadtrip genre. Rated R (for language).
“Scent of a Woman” (1992)
Chris O'Donnell is a middle-class student financially over his head, so to get back home for Christmas, he works through his Thanksgiving break looking after a gruff, bitter, and blind retired Army officer (Al Pacino ) who’s bent on going out in style. The two set out on a wild weekend in New York City that transforms them both. Though nominated eight times, it is Pacino’s only OSCAR-winning performance. Hoo- Ah. Rated R.
Home for the Holidays (1995)
Holly Hunter, Charles Durning and Robert Downey Jr. star in this Jodie Foster-directed under-the-radar “dramedy” that features some touching moments, but more laugh-out-loud ones (even mealtime grace is funny). A must-see for those who haven’t. Rated PG-13.
“Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and “Broadway Danny Rose” (1984)
Two of comic legend Woody Allen's best. In the first, an ensemble including Michael Caine. Barbara Hershey and the underrated Diane Wiest bring all of their neurotic baggage to a Thanksgiving celebration hosted by eldest sister Mia Farrow. Allen’s own story thread, more of an afterthought than integrated, is the funniest though aged artist Max Von Sydow probably has the best line when he says, “I don't sell my work by the yard!” Rated PG-13.
The story of Danny Rose, a pitiable talent manager who can’t seem to hit the big time, makes this list because of a hysterical helium-fueled scene in the hangar where the Macy’s Parade balloons are stored. Allen is on the run after being mistaken as mob moll Mia Farrow’s paramour. Second only to “Annie Hall.” Rated PG.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
Today also marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and no film better handles the commercialization of that holiday than this one, which famously unfolds with a narrowly avoided catastrophe at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Corny at times, it’s a treat watching young Natalie Wood go from a hardened cynic to a true believer. Not rated.
Chris Miksanek, The Med City Movie Guy