Unpopular opinion alert: Thanksgiving is a good holiday. While we now know the historic meal itself was a lot more problematic than we were initially led to believe, we still celebrate by stuffing our bodies full of meat, bread, potatoes, and alcohol.
Football is also integral to a successful Thanksgiving. And while we know that sport is a lot more problematic than we initially knew, there’s one more Thanksgiving tradition I’d like to spotlight: the post-meal movie. From my family to yours: here are five flicks to watch with your relatives as you slowly digest tryptophan, carbs, and comments made by family members with whom you disagree!
I don’t really understand where my family’s obsession with this 90s disaster movie came from. Is it Bill Paxton at his peak handsomeness? Is it the terror of tornadoes ripping through small towns? Is it that cow? Who knows! Toss on Twister for a good, old-fashioned throwback to when movies about natural disasters were just movies and not previews for climate change. It’s a crisis, people! (Raise your hand if you’re bringing up climate change over Thanksgiving! Full disclosure: I am not raising my hand!)
First of all, you can’t go wrong with Steve Martin. Second of all, this picture is family-friendly, fun for all ages, and full of incredible pranks. I still think about the bit where the kids soak Ashton Kutcher’s underwear in meat sometimes. Hilarious. Third, this movie also has a subplot about football, keeping it in theme with the day. You really can’t go wrong here. Cheaper by the Dozen is an underrated comedy.
I’m now realizing I have chosen no movies released in the last decade, and you know what, that’s okay! You don’t have to insist that your family sit through the latest Marvel movie, although I will be insisting that my dad take my sister and I to see Frozen II. Never mind that I am 26 and she is 24. It’s a movie about sisters, okay?
Anyways, back to School of Rock. School of Rock is a perfect movie. There, I said it. I know it from start to finish and will watch it at any point it’s on TV. Again, this is guaranteed to elicit laughs from family members of all ages. Younger kids will thrill in watching a PG-13 movie in which their peers swear. Adults can relate to the passion and humor of Dewey, played masterfully by Jack Black. And we as a society can agree that we have been sleeping on Joan Cusack’s performance, which is hysterical and brilliant. In fact, you should probably just turn on School of Rock right now. I’ll wait.
Thanksgiving usually means there are a ton of sports comedies on TV already. Honestly, Happy Gilmore is my favorite Adam Sandler movie, probably thanks to a combination of how many times I’ve seen it and the fact that it’s about a hockey player. It’s endlessly quotable and genuinely funny, and only a little bit inappropriate. Plus, your whole family can bond over what an a-hole Shooter McGavin is (although the actor who plays him is a Bills fan!).
There was a period of time where I’m pretty sure my cousins and I would watch Jurassic Park at every holiday or occasion. Whether hiding out in my grandpa’s room while the adults watched football or on the main TV on the off-chance it was free, we loved dinosaurs, and we loved DANGER.
(One Easter, we even made our own “Jurassic Park 3,” which was basically a reenactment of Jurassic Park where we substituted chocolate Easter eggs for raptor eggs. We were pioneering home movie special effects, like Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy had pioneered CGI effects for the dinosaurs! We are a movie making dynasty, like the Coppolas.)
Jurassic Park still holds up and is just as thrilling today as it was to me as a 10 year-old. The score, the scientific dilemmas, and Laura Dern’s emotive face are all key to this Thanksgiving gem.
So there you have it: a full slate of movie options for you and your family to fight over, after you finish your Thanksgiving meal. And before I hear any criticism for not including Christmas movies, like Elf or Love Actually, you can wait literally one more day: Thanksgiving is super late this year! Gobble, gobble motherfuckers!*
*That was aggressive, and I apologize. I do also love Christmas and would sanction an Elf viewing for the Friday or Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. Just maybe not ON the day itself, you know?