By Ben Olson and Cameron Rasmusson
Thanksgiving is a time for family, fun and a little dash of adventure. In these picks, Cameron and I share with you, our fair readers, some of our favorite Thanksgiving flicks. Strangely, there seems to be a shortage of movies dealing with the subject of Thankgiving (in contrast to the explosion of Christmas films). Maybe that’s why a film like “Son in Law” made it on the list.
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” 1987
John Hughes created comic gold when he paired Steve Martin and John Candy together in this ultimate Thanksgiving road film. Neal Page (Martin) is an uptight marketing executive who is trying to get home to his family for Thanksgiving, but every step of the way, a misadventure throws him off course. Del Griffith (Candy) is a blabbermouth but loveable shower curtain ring salesman who Page can’t seem to shake. They end up joining forces for a three-day odyssey, traveling by any means possible to get Page home.
Martin is the perfect straight man to Candy’s continuous gaffes. We’ve all run across someone like Del Griffith before, I’m sure, but Candy plays the role with such heart, you can’t help but love the guy.
My absolute favorite scene is when Martin and Candy are forced to share a bed together in a seedy motel and wake up snuggling with one another. Martin inquires where Candy’s other hand is, and Candy says, “Between two pillows,” to which Martin replies, “Those aren’t pillows!”
“Son in Law” 1993
Pauly Shore is like a car wreck; you can’t help but stare. In “Son in Law” directed by Steve Rash, he plays Crawl, a howling nonsensical idiot at UCLA who is talked into joining his friend Rebecca Warner (played by Carla Gugino) as she returns home to South Dakota for Thanksgiving dinner.
What follows is the ultimate culture clash. Crawl on the farm in South Dakota is quite ridiculous. But then again, there is something downright entertaining about the film, even though you know it’s bad. You just can’t look away (see car wreck comment in first paragraph).
My favorite scene is watching Crawl attempt to do farm chores wearing the most ridiculous ‘90s hip attire and getting owned by a pig.
“The New World” 2005
Thanks to the 1621 harvest feast of Plymouth Plantation, we always remember the European colonists and Native Americans at Thanksgiving. “The New World” is my favorite film about colonial America, and it’s a great Thanksgiving choice even if it’s about Jamestown, not Plymouth Plantation. A recounting of the Virginia settlement’s foundation and the life of Pocahontas, the movie captures pre-industrial America in all its natural splendor.
The film is directed by Terrence Malick, who, to put it lightly, is not for everyone. His methodical pacing leaves some bored to tears, but I find poetry in his beautiful images and masterful tone (Malick’s “The Tree of Life” is my favorite film). “The New World” may not be perfect history, but it captures a sense of time and place that stays with me.
“Six Feet Under” 2001-2005
To me, Thanksgiving is second only to Christmas as a major family occasion. That’s probably why I get an urge around this time of year to revisit my favorite fictional family, the Fishers, in HBO’s brilliant comedy-drama series “Six Feet Under.”
A meditation on life and death in modern America, “Six Feet Under” centers on the Fisher and Sons funeral home and the family that owns it. The drama and laughs that unfold around the Fishers’ dinner table remind me of my own family (well, minus the body preparation room in the basement, anyway), and rewatching the series always feels a little like going home.
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