Thanksgiving is only 10 days away! To kick off the holiday season, we asked our Movie Critic, Professional actor and life-long movie buff… Paul McGuire to share his recommendations for movies that highlight thanksgiving stories. Enjoy!
Who says there aren’t any movies about Thanksgiving? It’s November already, and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Does making Turkey dinner seem like such a hassle to anyone else? I’m not making it this year, but I can only imagine the stress my mother is going through. I’ll contribute a few pies though to ease my mother’s worry. I know DeeAnn will be sharing some great ideas this week on how to keep it all together while hosting the Thanksgiving Dinner!
Today’s movie blog contains three movies that involve Thanksgiving. Whether you need something to boost you into the spirit of having the whole family over or you need something to unwind to after it’s all over with. I recommend curling up with a movie celebrating the traditions we all have surrounding Turkey Day Dinner. You may just realize your relatives may not be as nutty as you thought compared to some of the characters in these movies!
1. Pieces of April (2003) Directed/Written by: Peter Hedges (About a Boy, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape). Starring: Katie Holmes (“Dawson’s Creek”, The Gift, Phone Booth, Go), Patricia Clarkson (“Six Feet Under”, The Station Agent) Oliver Platt (“Huff”, A Time to Kill)
Pieces of Aprilopens with April (Katie Holmes) waking up on Thanksgiving day and ready to make the Thanksgiving feast for her family. You find out that April is the “outcast” of the family. She has moved away from home and decides to prove to her family that she is moving in the right direction in life. She doesn’t have a clue as to how to make Thanksgiving dinner, but she makes it her goal to give them dinner. April can barely peel a potato and cut them up, let alone make a turkey dinner. April’s Dad (Oliver Platt) and brother (John Gallagher Jr.) seem to be the only ones in the family that want to go to April’s. Her mother (Patricia Clarkson) could care less about going. She suggests going to Krispy Kreme and stocking up on gas station food before they get to April’s.
Pieces of Aprilgarnered critical acclaim when it was released. Patricia Clarkson was nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar for her role as April’s mom. Katie Holmes received some of the best reviews of her career. Pieces of April is a wonderful independent movie. If you enjoy family dramas with a dark sense of humor, you will appreciate Pieces of April. If you remember the first time you had to make turkey dinner or forced to go to a turkey dinner, you will find some of the scenes familiar and tragically funny.
2. Home for the Holidays (1995) Directed by: Jodie Foster. Starring: Holly Hunter (“Saving Grace”, The Piano), Anne Bancroft (The Graduate, The Miracle Worker), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man, Tropic Thunder)
Claudia (Holly Hunter) has just been fired from her job at an art museum, and she finds out that her daughter (Claire Danes) would rather spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. Her only choice is to go back home and spend Thanksgiving with her crazy parents (Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning), gay brother (Robert Downey, Jr.) and a slew of other nutty relatives.
I must admit. I am a bit of a sucker for holiday movies involving quirky relatives. Home for the Holidaysis another good one to add to my list. The movie is full of terrific character acting all around. Anne Bancroft and Geraldine Chaplin (Aunt Glady) are hysterically funny. There is a funny dinner table scene involving a crazy speech by Geraldine Chaplin and a mishap with the turkey. If you’ve ever sat at an awkward family Thanksgiving dinner or have had to deal with the certain relative that is taking Thanksgiving way too seriously, you can relate.
3. The Ice Storm(1997) Directed by: Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Sense & Sensibility). Starring: Kevin Kline (The Big Chill, A Fish Called Wanda), Joan Allen (Nixon, The Contender), Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Working Girl, Avatar), Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man)
The Ice Storm takes place on/around the days of Thanksgiving 1973. Paul Hood (Tobey Maguire) comes back home from college to spend Thanksgiving with his family in New Canaan, Connecticut. He comes home to find his parents marriage is in the crumbles as his dad (Kevin Kline) is sleeping with the married neighbor (Sigourney Weaver). The movie is not necessarily about Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving dinner is what prompts Paul to come home. There is a really funny Thanksgiving dinner speech by Paul’s sister, Wendy (Christina Ricci). It starts out as the dinner prayer but turns into a speech about what she really thinks is the meaning of Thanksgiving. Needless to say she is quickly stopped by her parents (Kevin Kline and Joan Allen).
Here’s the clip of the speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_fDcTAe2jU&feature=player_embedded
The Ice Storm isn’t a movie for everyone. I showed it to my parents, and they still make fun of me for it! However, it is one of my favorite movies. I had to include it in this list of Turkey Day movies. The movie is very dark in subject and tone. Most of the characters in the movie are struggling with who they are, what society wants them to be, what their parents want them to be. Sexuality comes in to play not only in the adults, but also with the teen characters. The adults sleep around and go to a key party, and their children are exploring the beginnings of their sexual lives. Ang Lee is a very visual director. His movies are always such beautiful movies to watch. He is amazing at capturing the setting of each movie. He always pays special attention to landscapes, nature, or weather. The climax of the movie is obviously the ice storm that takes place at the end of the movie. The Ice Stormis filled with really terrific performances by Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, and Kevin Kline. Gene Siskel named The Ice Storm as his number one movie of 1997. I can watch The Ice Storm over and over and never get sick of it. It’s one of those movies that is filled with so much subtlety that I always find something new to appreciate with each viewing. Give it a try, it may just linger with you for a few days after seeing it.
These are just a few quirky movies you could watch about Thanksgiving or you could choose from others like: Planes, Trains, Automobiles, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, or Scent of a Woman. I hope you kick back after your holiday feast and watch a wonderful movie. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Meet Paul McGuire: Paul McGuire has been watching movies as far back as he can remember. Movies have been a huge passion of his. Whether it’s seeing movies in the theater, renting movies, buying movies, or brushing up on his movie trivia, movies are a huge part of Paul’s life. ” I think my passion of the cinema is what caused me to be an actor in life. I’ve always wanted to be an actor and I am fulfilling that dream as an actor in the Minneapolis/St. Paul theater community. My favorite movie of all time is Rob Reiner’s “Stand By Me”. That movie touches me for so many different reasons. Some of my idols when it comes to the cinema inlcude: Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, James Stewart, Robert DeNiro, Kevin Kline, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Alfred Hitchcock.” Check out Paul’s blog at : http://elblogdepmcg.blogspot.com
Thanks Paul, I’m looking forward to watching all of these! You’ll want to check back the end of November for ” Paul’s Recommendations for the Movie Buff on your list” – can’t wait!