The 10 Most Memorable Thanksgiving Feasts in Film

By | November 26, 2020

Most Memorable Thanksgiving Feasts in Film has determined some of the memorable Thanksgiving feasts in cinematic history. Check out our picks below!

Every Thanksgiving dinner is unique to the people and places hosting it. In the Midwest, they eat green bean casserole, cranberry relish in the Northeast, and fried turkey in Texas. The characters in movies have just as much effect on the circumstances of the feast as we do. Many scenes in cinema have been dedicated to the aforementioned meal. Some are dramatic, funny, and others are so awkward that they’ll give you déjà vu. Regardless, they’re memorable. These are some of the most memorable Thanksgiving feasts in film.

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Pieces of April (2003)

For us spectators (who have never been charged with cooking a Thanksgiving meal), the culinary arts can be intimidating. In Pieces of April, Katie Holmes’ April Burns invites her estranged/emotionally distant family to her low-rent New York City Apartment for Thanksgiving. As an inexperienced cook, April drops the turkey, breaks the oven, and succumbs to asking her neighbor for help. It’s a nightmare, capturing all our fears. However, director Peter Hedges has said that every dish that his protagonist makes has appeared on his dinner table. Heartwarming, relatable, and timely. 

Spider-Man (2002)

Who can forget the tense Thanksgiving at Peter Parker and Harry Osburn’s apartment? Mary Jane, Aunt May, and Norman Osburn were there, the latter moonlighting as the Green Goblin. After a spat with the Goblin, Spider-Man AKA Peter shows up late to Thanksgiving dinner with a war wound. As Norman begins carving the massive Turkey, he notices the cut on Peter’s forehand (who says a bike messenger clipped him), putting two and two together (among other things).

Avalon (1990)

Avalon follows the immigrant Krichinsky clan as they settle in early 20th century Baltimore. Portrayed in this (based largely on director Barry Levinson’s family history) film are the cultural and generational gaps that existed in its respective period, a time when everyone lived near one another and ate dinner together every night/day. The Thanksgiving meal in Avalon reflects this— generations sitting side by side as they contemplate/aspire towards the American Dream. 

Funny People (2009)

Like almost all Judd Apatow movies (or at least the best ones), Funny People walks the tightrope between comedy and drama. Perhaps no scene accentuates this better than George Simmons’ (Adam Sandler) Thanksgiving toast. Surrounded by a plethora of “funny people” at the table including characters played by Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Aubrey Plaza, and Jason Schwartzman, Sandler talks about impermanence, friendships and how someday, we’ll look back on this as the most memorable Thanksgiving ever. 

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

John Hughes knew how to pull at the audience’s heartstrings (while simultaneously making them laugh) and Planes, Trains and Automobiles is his Magnum Opus (well, one of them). The film follows control freak Neal Page (Steve Martin) as he tries to get home to Chicago and spend Thanksgiving with his family. Unfortunately, a snowstorm delays his flight, and he is forced to spend his layover with the talkative Del Griffith (John Candy). While the bulk of the film is about the time they spend together overcoming the various holiday travel shenanigans, perhaps the film’s most memorable (and poignant) moments comes at the end—when Neal realizes that Del has no family to go home to (having lost his wife years prior), prompting Neal to invite Del to Thanksgiving. We might not see the feast but we can picture Del at the table. 

The Blind Side (2009)

The Blind Side is based on the true story of football star Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a homeless black teen who’s taken in by Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) and her husband Sean (Tim McGraw). Unfamiliar with family gatherings (let alone Thanksgiving), Michael’s reaction to this Thanksgiving meal puts things in perspective for all those unappreciative of the love and delicious grub (seen in the cover photo) that surrounds us annually. 

Scent of a Woman (1992)

Poor old Charlie (Chris O’Donnell) is tasked with babysitting Col. Slade (Al Pacino) over Thanksgiving break. During Slade’s farewell tour in New York (unbeknownst to Charlie), the pair make a visit to Slade’s brother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. While there, Slade agitates everyone by telling inappropriate/provocative stories until a physical altercation occurs. Clearly, Slade and his family are estranged (understatement) and don’t want the Col. there in the first place. Thanksgiving is ultimately ruined, resulting in one of the most uncomfortable dinners in cinematic history and one we’ll never forget.

Home For The Holidays (1995)

Home for the Holidays follows single mother Claudia Larson who travels home alone for a holiday dinner with her family. The Thanksgiving dinner features a disgusting, burned turkey and a beautiful one, made by Claudia’s sister (Cynthia Stevenson). On top of all the dysfunction is Claudia’s unforgettable declaration, “it’ll be OK if we stuff ourselves until we can’t think anymore.” Director Jodie Foster’s film used 65 birds and over a dozen pumpkin pies to shoot this dinner. 

The Ice Storm (1997)

Director Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm paints a disconcerting picture of the American family in the 1970s. Why is it upsetting? The Thanksgiving dinner, featuring a Mom, Dad, and two kids, is as mundane/bleak as one can imagine— salt shakers shaped like pilgrims and a prayer about massacred Indians. Depressing? Yes. Memorable? Yes. 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)

Although A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is technically a television special and not a film, a holiday is not complete without the Peanut gang. Charlie forgets the turkey and instead serves buttered toast, chips, popcorn, pretzel sticks, and cherries. It’s exactly the kind of Thanksgiving dinner one would expect from kids and a dog prepare it unsupervised—sweet and perfectly bizarre.