Thursday, November 25, 2010

Movies To Serve With Thanksgiving Dinner

I don't know about you, but I love Thanksgiving. Always have, always will. To me, it's like Christmas only better, an excuse to hang out with the people you love and eat obscene amounts of food without the hassle of buying more junk nobody needs.

But clearly that's just me.

Anyway, there aren't a lot of good Thanksgiving-related movies out there, but here are my picks as the five best:

Miracle On 34th Street (the 1947 version, please)—This is the one Katie-Bar-The-Door and I watch every year as we're sleeping off lunch. The charming story of how Santa Claus came to town and wound up on trial for his sanity, Miracle on 34th Street starts at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and is a great way to kick off the Christmas season (assuming that, like the Monkey, you refuse to acknowledge those decorations that have been up since Columbus Day).

Serve with warm pecan pie straight from the oven.

Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)—Woody Allen's surprisingly warm tale of three neurotic sisters and their equally neurotic love lives, bookended by sumptuous Thanksgiving celebrations straight out of a Martha Stewart wet dream. As a bonus, Woody learns life is worth living while watching the Marx Brothers' Duck Soup.

Serve with a nice Bordeaux aged in Anton Chekhov's wine cellar.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)—Roger Ebert's favorite Thanksgiving Day movie, it's a classic odd couple comedy from John Hughes, starring an uptight Steve Martin and the slovenly salt of the earth John Candy as two men desperately trying to get home for the holidays. "How do they know which way we're going?" Tart and funny with all the sugar backloaded to the last five minutes.

Serve with all the trimmings.

Home For The Holidays (1995)—My literary agent, Jill, thinks this is the best Thanksgiving movie ever. It's a comedy filled with hostility, anxiety, irrational grievances and all the unfulfilled familial expectations you could ever want. Not to mention someone gets a turkey dumped in their lap. In other words, it's a documentary of the typical American Thanksgiving dinner.

Serve with bile and battery acid.

The Ice Storm (1997)—Alcoholism, wife swapping, teenage sex—and the best Thanksgiving toast ever. If you grew up in a lunatic asylum or are simply nostalgic for the free-love Seventies, this is the movie for you. Stars Joan Allen and Kevin Kline (sans moustache, and you know what that means).

Serve with cocaine and quaaludes.


Gordon Pasha said...

Rockwell, “Miracle” and “Hannah” work for me. The other three are balloons at the back of the Parade that have not passed my viewing stand. I think I will skip “Home For The Holidays.” I have lived too many of them. Hold the battery acid.

I have always been partial to “Avalon,” which appeals to my upbringing in the Bronx. And while you are on Woody Allen, we might hoist a “Tab” (as in the film) to Broadway Danny Rose’s offbeat, but loving, frozen turkey offering to his troupe at Thanksgiving. (The cranberry sauce was dry but one of the group advises “eat the mashed potatoes.”) The earlier Parade footage is a bonus. Best. Gerald.

Mythical Monkey said...

You're absolutely right about Broadway Danny Rose -- footage of the parade, the frozen dinners scene and even a shootout in the warehouse where they store the parade balloons. It's a neglected Woody Allen classic, although I have to admit, I often feel a bit too much like one of Danny Rose's hapless acts to want to watch it these days.

But I highly recommend it.

I should dig out Avalon -- I've seen nearly all of Barry Levinson's work, but I can't remember ever seeing Avalon. A shameful oversight on my part.

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

Chez Spenser, Turkey Day always means it's time to watch turkeys - Mystery Science Theater 3000 turkeys. I think the last time we saw them on Comedy Central on Thanksgiving, Adam West hosted his classic "Zombie Nightmare".

This year, it's "Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders" with Ernest Borgnine. I hope we can hold down dinner!

Gordon Pasha said...

Yes “Danny Rose” is outstanding. Allen and I are contemporaries from different boroughs. I hope you enjoy “Avalon,” and as you have not seen it, I will say little about it. Only, lest my reference to the Bronx confuse -- a word of clarity. I was a Gentile growing up in the Bronx in the 1940s -- there was a large Jewish influence everywhere. Their culture had a strong positive influence on me. Located where you are, I suspect that you know that “Avalon” was centered in Baltimore. Best. Gerald.

Mythical Monkey said...

I'm with you, Bev -- turkeys are best served in the company of good friends and snarky robots.

Yvette said...

You left out the film me and my family watch year after year after year on Thanksgiving. MARCH OF THE WOODEN SOLDIERS (aka Babes in Toyland) with Laurel and Hardy. It's a TRADITION! Ha! I just wish they'd stop coloring the thing. I much prefer it in black and white.

Tom said...

I agree with Gerald that Avalon is a wonderful film. I love watching this movie; it reminds me of my own family history. Both my grandfather and grandmother (on my mother's side) came to America from Poland. (Though they arrived in Chicago around 10 years after the character in the film, approximately 1925; also they were Catholic not Jewish).

I also love the Norman Rockwell painting. My great-aunt (also an immigrant from Poland) looked just like her. (She passed away in 1989 and was in her 90s)