Trifecta #09: Thanksgiving Movies With the Fam


by: Nathan Swank

You can’t go out and party every weekend, so on those nights you want to take it easy, has put together a bi-weekly column to help you with your movie selection. The Trifecta is a recommendation of three movies that set a mood, that showcase an actor or director, that acquaint the viewer with a geographic location, or maybe even have some obscure link like a Best Boy or Key Grip.

Every Thanksgiving my family will wake up, feed the chickens, milk the cow and fork the hay…you know, normal daily chores. After ma is finished cooking up a big delicious Thanksgiving dinner, she rings the dinner bell to call us in. We all gather around the table and take turns telling what we are all thankful for this year. My pa is very practical and always says house and food. Ma, ever so loving, says our family. Gammy thanks God for Jesus. My sis blurts out: “I’m thankful for candy!” We all have a good laugh. Oh, the innocence of a child. After dinner we all settle in around the fire. Our dog, Skippy, fetches pa his slippers while I get his pipe. My gammy sits in her rocking chair knitting a quilt. Ma grabs the Bible so pa can read a parable from the New Testament. My sis and I sit on the floor near pa’s lazy chair in eager anticipation. At those times I realize what I’m thankful for… Alcohol, wait no… Memories.

Unfortunately, this probably is not quite how most Thanksgivings go except perhaps in Ned Flanders household. Thanksgiving is usually the time when people pack their bags and children into the SUV, head reluctantly to see the extended family and prep themselves for stress, guilt and yelling. I’m hoping the trifecta of movies I recommend will ease some of the pain. For the record, I love my family!

Home for the Holidays

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS is the perfect dose of loving dysfunction. Dysfunction is unfair… how about crazy. Everyone says their family is crazy and you know what? They’re right. Every family is crazy and that is what is so great about them. In spite of all the craziness, you learn to live with it and support each other and that is what this film is all about. Directed by Jodie Foster, HFTH is about Claudia (Holly Hunter) spending time with her all-star cast of a family including, her gay brother (Robert Downey Jr.), her daughter (Claire Danes), a possible gentleman caller (Dylan McDermott) and many more. Even Steve Guttenberg makes an appearance! The family members have their personal baggage, but are overall sweet and loving to one another. Look for stand out performances by Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning as the parents who contribute to the craziness but keep the family grounded. If you haven’t seen it, I believe it’s a family comedy must.

Pieces of april

My next choice could be written for our One You May Have Missed column. PIECES OF APRIL is a smaller film about a family taking a road trip to spend Thanksgiving with their estranged daughter April (Katie Holmes). April is doing her best to clean up her cramped old apartment and cook a turkey in her broken oven. Everyone’s a little uneasy about the situation as we discover mom and daughter have not gotten along in quite some time. Oliver Platt is great as the sweet moderating father and Patricia Clarkson, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance, is flawless as the mother dying of cancer with a cynical bite. This is definitely a more dramatic film but among the sadness you will find many smiles.

Thanksgiving 3

I’m guessing everyone knows my next choice. PLANES TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES is directed by John Hughes and stars the comic geniuses of Steve Martin and the late John Candy. Basically, that alone should sell this movie. Neal (Martin) is trying to get home in time for Thanksgiving with his wife and kids, but the weather and other unforeseen forces keep stopping his travel, either by plane, train or… any transportation with wheels. An obnoxious shower curtain ring salesman (Candy) seems to be heading the same way and the two team up to make this traveling fiasco very entertaining for us. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to put my hand between two pillows and watch the Bears game.

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