The 12 Most (and Least) Family-Friendly Thanksgiving Movies

Your holiday movie refresher on family values.

By Marin Johnson

Once the Thanksgiving football game is over and the turkey is wrapped up, the family gathers around the TV for a wholesome Thanksgiving movie.

Or perhaps not. There are stunningly few age-appropriate movies that so much as brush upon the subject of Turkey Day. Before Thursday evening is upon you, scan the top of this list to ensure there's something evocative of giving thanks to put on the television while the family digests their feast.

Or, if it's an adults only Thanksgiving celebration, scroll down to the bottom and feast on some of the most entertainingly inappropriate Thanksgivings ever.

12. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

This classic, heartwarming Thanksgiving tale airs every year on ABC. Unlike the staggering majority of movies on this list, there is no objectionable violence or profanity to be worried about.

ABC/United Feature Syndicate

It’s a quick, funny little fiasco that ends on a high note, perfect for a Thanksgiving gathering with little ones.

11. Mouse on the Mayflower

Here we have an old-fashioned Hallmark film on the first Thanksgiving. It teaches and entertains, which made it a Thanksgiving staple back in the day. The problem is that it has aged in ways other than graphical quality.

NBC/Rankin/Bass Productions

The intent is pure, but like unintentionally racist Disney films from the Golden Age, some of the moments in this movie feel a out of place in the 21st Century. It holds up--more-or-less--but could use an update.

It also might be a bit too scary for young children--especially right at the beginning, which features a storm at sea with frightening music and lighting.

10. Dutch

With Dutch, we depart the realm of young children’s films... but here's a movie that's appropriate for teens. The majority of the inappropriate content can be chalked up to good, old-fashioned slapstick. In a show of jaw-dropping defiance, the teenage boarding school boy turns a well-meaning man into a giant punching bag.

Warner Bros/Universal Pictures International

It’s the sort of violence that made Tom and Jerry so popular. And it’s (mostly) harmless to watch. Though not for all ages, it will at least pique the interest of this generation’s jaded teens, much like a modern-day Secret Garden.

9. Rocky

What, you didn't realize that Rocky was a Thanksgiving movie?

If you've never sampled the modern classic that is Rocky, you may not know that it is one of the most memorable, heartwarming, and at times cheesy movies you can watch after turkey. After all, without Rocky, we may never have discovered the true power of the training montage.

If you have seen this movie, then you know the connection to Thanksgiving is tangential at best, but there is still a great action shot involving a half-cooked turkey.

United Artists

It is up to you to decide if your family is ready for this showcase of glorified violence. If your child knows that violence is not the best outlet for anger, and you can trust them not to play copy-cat, it may be time to hear Stallone shout, "Adrian!"

Oh, and by the way. There's a valuable moral to take away from this film: You don't have to be the victor to win what's most important.

8. Addams Family Values

Do not let young children see this movie. Let me say this again: Do not let young children see this movie.

Your youngest child will pepper you with horrifying questions like “Why did they put the meowing box in the ground?”

Paramount Pictures

That said, your oldest child will enjoy the delightful mix of gothic horror and wholesome family values. Know your audience well, and you will enjoy a very festive Halloween. I mean Thanksgiving.

7. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Though cooked up for adults, this movie may play just fine in your home. Some jokes are more awkward around kids than others, like the two main characters cuddling in their sleep.

And while you may fondly remeber this as a earnestly heartwarming film--and it most certainly is--it also features Steve Martin laying down about 15 F-bombs in a row.

Paramount Pictures/Hughes Entertainment

It’s a movie about friendship, forgiveness, perseverance, and remembering what really matters. The audience is adults, but your teens will relate.

6. Alice’s Restaurant

No small amount of propaganda went into the making of this film (which isn't surprising when the source material is a folk song by Arlo Guthrie). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does place Alice's Restaurant firmly in the realm of movies meant for adults. Your child will harvest no entertainment from watching this film, and will have no small amount of trouble following the plot.

United Artists

They may find it funny to see a room full of men in underwear, but is that really what you need in your Thanksgiving entertainment? Save this one for after bedtime.

5. The Big Chill

This is another movie strictly for adults. You've already seen it, right? It is about a group of childhood friends coming together for a friend’s funeral, wondering how they got to where they are in life.

Columbia Pictures

There's romance and profanity, and not so much as a frame of film to keep the young ones entertained... unless your youngsters are obsessed with narcissistic characters wallowing in their parent's nostalgia.

It’s a pity, but not a lot of Thanksgiving movies seem to have the entire family in mind. You might invite your teenager to watch it with you, but only if you want them to enter their nihilistic phase early.

4. Pieces of April

This is certainly not a movie to watch with your kids, but it may be perfect to watch with your grown-up child after they've left the nest.

United Artists

Pieces of April can be a very difficult movie to watch. It is about an externally fuctional family that hides horrible flaws between the lines; it is also about an adult daughter still struggling to earn her parent's approval. In other words, it's a film treatment of pretty much any Great Amercian Novel.

That said, if your child is mature enough to be considered a true adult, absolutely share the experience of watching this together.

3. Hannah and Her Sisters

Does your child enjoy relationship drama? Does your child sit on the edge of their seat waiting to see if the couple goes home together or if they start throwing punches? How does your child feel about people having affairs? How often does your child struggle to find purpose or meaning?

Orion Pictures Corporation

As a crushingly realistic film, this is a great way to set the mood for a depressing Thanksgiving, if that is what you wish to do. It is, however, like any Woody Allen film, not appropriate for kids.

2. The Scent of a Woman

If your child is in the room when you watch this movie, they will learn important lessons, like the school system is a sham and no one should respect authority. Your child will also discover a new type of hero--one who drinks to excess.

Universal Pictures

Your child will also learn that it is not at all creepy for a 50-year-old to seduce a 20-something and then hire an escort.

1. Grumpy Old Men

Are you kidding me?

If the last movie wasn’t creepy enough, here are two old men competing for the affection of a woman 20 years their junior. And one of them wins!

Warner Bros. Pictures

That aside, this movie is great for a laugh, so long as it is adults who are doing the laughing. After all, who doesn’t love an age-old feud to go with their Thanksgiving dinner?