Rants for the Riff Raff: The Lost Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Any holiday that revolves around eating as much as humanly possible while spending time with your loved ones is ok by me. The problem is, Thanksgiving gets the shaft. As soon as we get past Halloween, everybody starts thinking about Christmas. Stores bust out their red and green decorations, Starbucks unleashes their wintery flavors, and everywhere you go you get assaulted by a barrage of Christmas carols. It’s like the world forgets about Thanksgiving. Well, one man doesn’t. In honor of this under-represented holiday, I present to you a list of movies to get you in the Thanksgiving spirit.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987, dir. John Hughes)
The main problem with finding Thanksgiving movies is that they don’t really exist. This movie comes pretty close, however. Neal Page (Steve Martin) is trying to get home to his family for Thanksgiving dinner, but is forced through a series of unlucky incidents to travel with Del Griffith (John Candy), a man he considers to be the most annoying person on the planet. Not a lot of Thanksgiving really happens until the end, but this movie is still hilarious. It was pseudo-remade recently with Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis, but nothing can touch the original.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001, dir. Wes Anderson)
So now we are in a little more abstract territory. No, this movie really has nothing to do with the holiday of Thanksgiving. But it celebrates what Thanksgiving is all about, like learning to accept your family for who they are and figuring out what really matters to you (or, to put it another way, what you’re really thankful for…). Also, it’s just great. Well written and with stellar yet unconventional performances by Ben Stiller and Owen and Luke Wilson, it is one of Wes Anderson’s finest films.
The Longest Yard (1974, dir. Robert Aldrich)
Another grand Thanksgiving tradition is football, and this is one of my favorite football movies. It stars Burt Reynolds as an ex-star quarterback who gets arrested after stealing his girlfriend’s car. Once in prison, he is coerced into competing in a game between the inmates and the guards. It is funny, dark, and full of great ‘70s moustaches. This was also remade in 2005 with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock (with a bunch of pro-wrestlers, strangely), but that version took out almost all of the films darker themes. As is generally the case, going with the original is the best choice.
Some Like it Hot (1959, dir. Billy Wilder)
This list has already been one big stretch, and this movie is the most elastic out of all of them. I just associate this movie with Thanksgiving because my family always watches it around that time. But don’t let the lack of Thanksgiving themes deter you. This film has Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis dressing in drag to avoid the Chicago mafia, Marilyn Monroe playing a boozy millionaire hunter, and one of the greatest ending lines in cinema history. So sure, it may not have anything to do with turkey, family, or football. But after stuffing yourself into a food coma, nothing feels better than watching performers at the top of their game in a goofy, unconventional comedy.
There you have it. 4 movies guaranteed (more or less) to get you in the mood for Turkey day. We will soon be entrenched in the holiday season, with carolers and overstuffed malls and black Fridays, but before that happens, take some time and really appreciate one of the best holidays we have.
By: Will Bray
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