Thanksgiving week is a great time to get nice and cozy with the family on the couch and put on a movie that everyone will enjoy! And while some people have already been diving into Christmas movies for the past few weeks now, there are plenty of movies that are perfect for this Fall season that aren’t rushing over the first American holiday. Here are some of my favorite picks!
5 Great Family Movies For Thanksgiving
- McFarland, USA (2015)
Rating: PG for thematic material, some violence and language | Runtime: 2h 8m
It’s pretty unanimous that The Blind Side is out this year as far as feel-good sports movies go, and I can’t think of a better alternative than Disney’s McFarland, USA. Based on a true story, Kevin Costner plays high school coach Jim White, who after a couple of unfortunate incidents, finds himself with a not so desirable teaching/coaching gig in the San Joaquin Valley in central California – specifically the poverty-stricken farming community of McFarland. There he discovers buried potential in several high school boys and slowly turns them into championship runners and brings them closer than even he could ever imagine.
This movie is packed with heart and laughs, as well as several very emotional scenes as Coach White connects with his students and learns more about their lives. It’s a film that will have you cheering and jumping out of your seat by the end, definitely a great movie for showing the power of teamwork and believing in yourself, as well as lifting up those around you.
There is one scene of violence involving what is implied to be gang activity that may be scary for very young viewers, but I would say this movie is absolutely fine for kids ages 10 and up!
2. The Incredibles (2004)
Rating: PG for action violence | Runtime: 1h 55m
My wife and I went to Disney World recently and watched a lot of classic Disney and Pixar movies from our childhoods in preparation for our trip. Watching Pixar’s The Incredibles for the first time as an adult was truly a much different experience than watching it as a child. This story of a father who is stuck between wanting to relive his glory days as a superhero and being responsible for his family is a timeless message of the struggles we can have when living out our vocations, and reminding ourselves that loving is willing the good of another, even if it isn’t always the way we want it to be. There is truly something in this movie for everybody, entire character dynamics that I did not pick up on as a kid were so prevalent to me upon recent viewing. What Pixar used to produce is really amazing.
Apart from typical superhero action movie violence, including the use of guns, I would say this movie is pretty safe for almost any age. Let’s say 5 & up!
3. Jerry & Marge Go Large (2022)
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive references | Runtime: 1h 36m
Bryan Cranston just can’t stop breaking bad! Well okay, he’s not so bad in this one! Jerry & Marge Go Large is the delightful and incredible true story of long-married couple Jerry and Marge Selbee, who through mathematics find a loophole in the lottery system that allows them to win over and over again! The absolute definition of a “comfort movie”, Jerry & Marge is such a fun time as you root for these lovebirds in their golden years, with excellent performances from Bryan Cranston and Annette Bening, with a terrific supporting cast, including The Office’s Rainn Wilson. I promise you will be laughing and smiling the entire time, and even when there is a bit of drama and uncertainty in what will happen to our protagonists, the film never loses its absolute charm.
A few moderate curse words are sprinkled in throughout this movie, including several uses of the s-word and one misuse of “Jesus Christ, though I would still say this is on the lighter side of PG-13. If you have kids 13 and up or are of the mindset of “they’ve probably heard worse”, then you’re in for a great time with this one!
4. A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Rating: PG-13 for action violence, brief nudity and brief suggestive dialogue | Runtime: 2h 12m
If there was ever a movie to make you say, “Man, they really don’t make movies like that anymore”, it’d be A Knight’s Tale. Meet William Thatcher, a young peasant squire with a gift for jousting. After his master dies suddenly, William assumes his identity so he can compete in the royal jousting tournaments in order to win food, fame, and glory. One of Heath Ledger’s best performances, and set to a score of classic rock music, A Knight’s Tale is truly a moderately forgotten gem from the early 2000’s. One thing I also really like about this movie is the presence of God throughout it, being spoken of in a very positive and reverent way, including prayers and blessings, something you don’t really see in big Hollywood movies today. This is also just a GREAT movie, the story of someone who was born with nothing rising up to ranks they never thought possible is truly inspiring, and after watching this film you feel ready to take on the world and tackle whatever obstacles stand in your way head on!
This is however a movie that I would say sways more towards slightly older teens, featuring a scene involving some mild nudity, although for completely comedic purposes. There is a character played by Paul Bettany who has a rather large gambling problem, the running joke of the film being that we would “literally gamble the clothes off his back” thus resulting in a few shots of his bare buttocks. That, along with some mild crude dialogue, would lead me to say that for kids 14 and up this would be a very enjoyable time for families, but of course that is up to your discretion.
5. Remember the Titans (2000)
Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements and some language | Runtime: 1h 53m
And of course, it’s not Thanksgiving without a little football! Remember the Titans is a classic, and ALWAYS a solid choice for a family movie night, especially if you have some sports fanatics in your family. This movie is the true story of a newly appointed African American coach (played by Denzel Washington) and his high school team on their first season as a racially integrated unit. A great movie about people focused on differences putting those aside and coming together for a common goal. Denzel Washington is truly one of the greatest actors of our time, and his performance in Titans only solidifies that truth further. This is definitely a movie that a lot of people know, but one that newer generations may have not seen, or one that you may have not watched in a few years! So whether you’re seeing it for the first time or for the first time in a while, Remember the Titians is sure to touch your heart and give you a strong sense of family and unity, which in many ways is what Thanksgiving is all about!
Racism is the major theme of this movie, which may be a sensitive topic for some younger viewers or households. Although nothing too violent is depicted, there are several fights that break out in the movie, all racially motivated, as well as a car crash that may be frightening to some viewers. For those reasons, I would say if you have children younger than 10, this may be a movie you want to review before watching it with them, but this is a movie with a very powerful message that I believe everyone should see at some point in their lives.
While these movies have virtually nothing to do with the holiday itself, I picked them because of the strong central themes on family, unity, and what we can achieve when we come together! Let me know what you thought of the list and if you plan on watching any of these with your loved ones this year. Also, what are some of your favorite Thanksgiving family movies? I’d love to hear them!