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Thanksgiving Movies

Let’s not rush into Christmas without considering a certain other “holiday” which does not get enough mention, in my opinion.  There are some Thanksgiving movies out there.  Here are 5 I like in no particular order…

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. 

Neal and Del (Steve Martin and John Candy) are hilarious in this 1987 movie about a business man desperate to get home in time for Thanksgiving and forced to travel with an obnoxious, yet engaging shower-ring salesman.  If you can watch it on TV, probably better, as the language on the DVD is pretty, wellllll – watch out! 

Quotes of note:

[waking up after sharing the same bed in the motel]
Neal: Del… Why did you kiss my ear?
Del: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal: [frowns] Where’s your other hand?
Del: Between two pillows…
Neal: Those aren’t pillows!

 “My dogs are barking.” ?  “You’re going the wrong way.” ? “I have, uh…two dollars and a Casio.” ?  “Git’ yer lazy butt out of that truck!” ? “Honey, I’d like you to meet Del Griffith.”

And? It has one of my all-time favorite songs, “Every time You Go Away ~ you take a piece of me with you.”

Oh, yeah.  Funny movie!  You’ll laugh.


A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

 Why must you see this before Thanksgiving again?  Don’t ask that.  Just do it!  Do you really know anyone wiser than Linus, more vulnerable than the sympathetic Charlie Brown, more capable than Lucy (mygosh that girl is smart and such a choleric!), more talented than Schroeder, more loyal than Marcie, or more apt-to-question-her-feminine-identity-as-an-adult than Peppermint Patty?  And could there be, other than Gemma or Guini, perhaps, a cuter little sister than Sally?  Come on people, enjoy this o-so-sweet classic again.  And again. 

[after singing “Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s House We Go.”]
Charlie Brown: Well, there’s only one thing wrong with that.
Linus van Pelt: What’s that, Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: My grandmother lives in a condominium.


About a Boy.

This isn’t actually a Thanksgiving movie-because they don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving in London, since it is an American holiday.  And though it ends with a Christmas scene, and even though the main character is a man living off the royalties of his late father’s kitchsy Christmas song (which he loathes), it isn’t “Christmasy-enough” for me to watch it in December.  So, I enjoy it near Thanksgiving.

Wil (Hugh Grant) is living a hip, but shallow and pointless life compared to his friends, “My life is made up of units of time. Buying CDs – two units. Eating lunch – three units. Exercising – two units. All in all, I had a very full life. It’s just that it didn’t mean anything.”  He passes himself off as a single father so he can meet single moms (feeling they’ll be grateful for his attention, but easy to leave behind when they want commitment).  His game is interrupted by the eccentric Marcus, an odd 12-year old who desperately needs lessons in being cool, but is known for breaking out singing oldies in class (songs that make his wacky “suicide granola” mother happy).

When Marcus becomes a target for school bullies, Wil starts to understand the importance of his role in the young boy’s life.  They could have named the film About Two Boys, because initially, the 38-year-old Wil resists being an adult, but once he ever-so-charmingly steps into the young boy’s life, Wil begins to finally understand that “No man is an island,” or rather as he says it: “Every man is an island. I stand by that. But clearly some men are island chains. Underneath, they are connected…”  And so, this movie warms our hearts when we think of the people, the times and the circumstances that have connected us and with whom we shall celebrate Thanksgiving, grateful for the people we love.  Sweet movie.


Pieces of April 

The “black sheep” of the family, the one child the mother has only one good memory of, tries, with all her heart to make amends on Thanksgiving.  Her siblings dislike her for past mistakes, her complicated and withholding mother has terminal cancer and anything that can go wrong is just going wrong.  As odd as April may seem, you cannot help but love her, root for her and understand her very empathetically by the end.  Because at some time or another, we have all been her.  Or is it just me?


April’s mom about enduring Thanksgiving at April’s apartment: This way, instead of April showing up with some new piercing or some ugly new tattoo and, God forbid, staying overnight, this way, we get to show up, experience the disaster that is her life, smile through it, and before you know it, we’re on our way back home.

April, describing her “role” in her family: I’m the first pancake.
Evette: What do you mean?
Eugene: She’s the one you’re supposed to throw out.

April [becoming somewhat emotional over some old-fashioned turkey shaped salt and pepper shakers that Bobby-the-boyfriend bought]: We had these when I was a kid.
[sad pause]
April Burns: The one time [my mother] let me hold them she said, “Be careful, they’re worth more than you are.”
Bobby: Well, that’s terrible.
April Burns: Next year they were gone.
Bobby: So, what happened?
April Burns: A hammer I was holding fell on them.


Scent of a Woman


1992. Rated R for language.   This film surprised me.  I had seen the trailers and they all seemed to support the title.  I feared it  was going to be about some dirty-old-man obsessed with women.  But it was Al Pacino, after all, so I tried it out anyway, and  wow!  In this Oscar-winning performance as blind, retired Army Lt. Colonel Slade, he was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!  He plays a man filled with somewhat-controlled, darkened (both in his sight and in his heart), gloomy rage and harbors life-sucking anger towards himself; a man born to be a hero, but with no deposit for his legacy.

Then you’ve got Chris O’Donnell playing Charlie Simms, a prep-school student totally out of his league with the regular crowd there, he, a poor scholarship recipient.  To earn money to get home for Christmas over the Thanksgiving weekend, he is hired to “watch over” Colonel Slade and an education for them both becomes inevitable.  Charlie learns about the Tango (great scene with Gabrielle Anwar), women (warning on his passionate discourse on women…just warning) and fast cars.  The Colonel finds a worthy recipient for his protective instinct and life’s heritage.

The “family Thanksgiving” scene is anything but warm and fuzzy, but you can’t help enjoying how the Colonel irritates and baits the twerp-of-a-nephew.  Not exactly a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.

When the reserved, and innocent Charlie is being taken advantage of by school officials and parents of boys with no integrity (Philip Seamore Hoffman is great in his role as one of Charlie’s weak, partying classmates who is torn between doing right and following the money-crowd), the warrior in Colonel Slade emerges as he takes on the school, the parents and the classmates themselves urging them to let Charlie be the man of character he knows him to be.  The speech is a stand-up-and-applaud moment!

This is a movie about  a bitter man who needed love and needed to love some one, and a young man who needed a hero to help him become the person he was created to be.  It’s about what there is to love in life and all the reasons living is so wondrous.  It is a connection between two men whose highest virtue is integrity and it’s about  love.  And women.  Hoo-aah.

Honorable mention:


Holiday Inn, which covers most all of the holidays in a year, with a special focus on the bookend Christmases of the movie, has a great Thanksgiving song/scene with Bing Crosby.  Down in the dumps because Fred Astaire has stolen his sweetheart, he sings: “I have plenty to be thankful for…”  Bing is wry and tender and the guy can sing!

For your Thanksgiving entertainment… from Jeanie

NOTE TO SELF:  Uh, yeah.  Thanksgiving is only 5 days away.  Planning a menu and buying a turkey right about now would be a good thing.

11.26.09 THANKSGIVING DAY update:  Yahoo weighs in with its’ list of top ten Thanksgiving movies: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/life/10-best-thanksgiving-movies-548260/

Love Actually is All Around

Opening scene at a London airport as people are reunited, voice-over by the Prime Minister (Hugh Grant):  Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is ~ all around.

Spoiler Alert:  I am going to talk about this 2003 movie, which I love!


We kicked off the holiday-movie viewing season with one of my favorites last night:  Love Actually, from British Director, Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” and “Pirate Radio”) who has a knack for using a large array of actors and juggling multiple storylines within one pretty cohesive tale.  Love Actually focuses on more than a dozen characters, happy and sad threads being woven together during the Christmas season.  It isn’t a love story per se, but many stories about love, love that is good and happy, sad and devastating, surprising, open, closed, whatever.  But ultimately it explodes and multiplies in the giving.  Love.

In 2007, I watched this movie about 17 times between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I cried everytime.  I won’t tell  you why I cried, but I’ll tell you some things I love, songs (I have the soundtrack, naturally) and scenes.

Why I Actually Love Love Actually

  • Keira Knightly plays a gorgeous bride in a spectacular wedding scene in which almost all of the cast is present.  I have decided to surprise Tredessa with a similar ending to her wedding…when it happens.  Shh. Don’t tell her.  All you need is love…
  •  The best man, later found to have been hiding a secret crush is emotionally powerful, first in his “self-preservation” scene to the Dido song, “I won’t go, I won’t sleep,  I can’t breathe, until you’re resting Here with Me” (I love his sweater, his vulnerability, his angst), and later with a CD player and hand-written signs in his hands. {“But for now, let me say – Without hope or agenda – Just because it’s Christmas – And at Christmas you tell the truth – To me, you are perfect – And my wasted heart will love you – Until you look like this. [picture of a mummy]}
  • Kelly Clarkson’s “The Trouble with Love Is, it can tear you up inside; make your heart believe a lie;  it’s stronger than your pride…”
  • The sweet conversations between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia even though he speaks English and she speaks Portuguese.  They don’t understand each other, yet, somehow, they do.  Jamie: [in English] It’s my favorite time of day, driving you home.   Aurelia: [in Portuguese] It’s the saddest part of my day, leaving you.
  • Billy Mack (Bill Nighy) ditching an Elton party for friendship.
  • {sigh} Sarah?  The dang phone over Karl?  Seriously?  What are you thinking…family.  I guess that is it.  But I love the happy dance on the stairwell!
  • The Nativity play is pretty modern and odd: Lobsters at the birth of Jesus?  More than one?  And an octopus!  But I don’t think a Hollywood filmmaker would even have put one in at all.
  • Natalie and the Prime Minister.  Oooohhhh.  So cute.  Her Christmas card to him.  Sweet.  And unlike everyone else, he does not see her as “chubby.”    Gotta love him!  But she does need to watch her mouth.
  • I kind of enjoy Billy Bob Thornton’s portrayal as the cocky, entitlement-mongering American President.  That is, before I wanted to slap him.  So-I guess it was a good performance.
  • Such strong emotion with the funeral scene set to the Bay City Rollers’ “Bye, Bye, Baby, baby, good-bye;  Bye Bye, baby, baby don’t cry.  You’re the one girl in town I’d marry...”  Then Liam Neeson as the grieving widower building relationship with his stepson, helping the boy express his true love to his classmate (who sings a crazy-amazing version of Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want for Christmas is You!  That little girl can sing!). 
  • The no-nonsense Karen (played by Emma Thompson).  She is the rock.  She is the hardworking woman doing everything right for everyone, while still questioning her purpose (compared to, say, her brother – the Prime Minister).  But Joni Mitchell’s music is proof of her strong, deep emotion.
  • Rowan Atkinson’s performance as a slightly “Our-Town-‘stage-manager’-esque” character, sort of an all-knowing, otherworld diviner in a couple of small, but pivotal scenes is hilarious.  I have often wondered why, maybe, there wasn’t more of him.  But that may have taken the film to a whole new level of fantasy? 


It’s a silly, sad, sweet, funny, ridiculous, strange and adorable movie.  There are too many nude scenes and you have to fast-forward the “skin-flick” scenes a little, but hopefully not enough to miss the cute story that comes from it.  The storyline I could have done without was the strange-looking boy who went to America and very successfully got lots of girls because of his “cute, British accent.”  Yes, I can believe American girls are that shallow at times, sadly.  And the little vixen in the workplace is a {bad word I can’t say here} and I could have done without her, too.  But, it is full of great music and really good actors and lighthearted scenes.  It starts sweetly and ends amazingly!  It is the longest, most enjoyable ending after ending ever, set to the Beach Boys singing, “I may not always love you, but as sure as there are stars above you, you never need to doubt it.  I’ll make you so sure about it, God Only Knows what I’d be without you…”

I LOVE the ending. 

I wish I could show it here, but everytime it shows up on Youtube, it gets taken off again.  I will be watching this movie again before Christmas.  Maybe more than once.  Probably more than once.


Love Actually is Rated R for sexuality, nudity and language.  It is NOT for children.