Thanksgiving Countdown: Movies with Thanksgiving Themes

Thanksgiving is a festive holiday that involves a rich tradition of long get-togethers with family and friends, both old and young. Thanksgiving also focuses on the historic religious roots of our nation, the importance of family and savoring our abundant blessings. Some families like to sit down together and watch a classic, heartwarming movie after everyone is stuffed with turkey. Good movies with Thanksgiving themes at first may seem hard to find, but as you can see from the list below, there are plenty to choose from. Many of these are movies that the whole family can enjoy. You can even watch some of them for free!

Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure (2012) – What motivated the Pilgrims to come to America? What formula for success did they discover? More importantly, how can we apply these same foundational truths today? Monumental is a 90-minute documentary that follows Kirk Cameron across Europe and the U.S. as he seeks to discover America’s true “national treasure” – the people, places, and principles that made America the freest, most prosperous and generous nation on earth. Every student of American history – and every American! – should watch this video. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video (Watch FREE with Amazon Prime!)

The Blind Side (2010, PG-13) – This feel good drama tells the compelling true story of Michael Oher, a homeless black teenager who is welcomed into the home of a caring Christian family. Michael is never quite sure of his place in this family — until he decides to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Though there are a couple of unnecessary lines making this movie best for older teens and adults, it’s an inspiring movie with overt Christian values. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving (2008) – This Hallmark movie is based on a short story by Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. Widow Mary Bassett and her three children have hit difficult times on their farm, and can’t even afford a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Mary’s daughter, Tilly, takes it upon herself to contact her grandmother (a high-society woman in late-1800’s New York) and ask for help.  Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower (2006, PG) – This 2 1/2-hour History Channel docu-drama (part documentary and part dramatization) tells the amazing true story of the historic Pilgrim voyage and their first year in the New World. From their self-imposed exile in Holland and perilous Atlantic crossing in the Mayflower to unimaginable hardships encountered in their new land, the events are largely seen through the eyes of William Bradford and based on his journals. Buy DVD or watch on YouTube: Part 1 | 2 | 3

Spider-Man (2002, PG-13) – Average teenager Peter Parker is transformed into a super hero after he is accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider. Thanksgiving dinner is when Norman Osborn “The Green Goblin” realizes that Peter is Spider-Man, because Parker has the injury he gave Spider-Man during their last fight. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

The Mayflower Pilgrims (1996) – Towards the end of the 16th Century, in a quiet corner of England, well away from the mainstream of Elizabethan life, an apparently insignificant religious movement emerged. It was composed of a small band of largely anonymous people who believed in a simple form of worship, away from the ritualized trappings of the established Church of the day. These people were known as Separatists. No one then could possibly have guessed what a huge impact these faithful Christians would have on world history. But when, in 1620, after years of sacrifice and hardship, they arrived on the shores of the New World in a tiny ship, they carried in their hearts a set of beliefs which would form the bedrock values for the world’s most powerful democracy… America, a nation engendered by the idea of freedom and expression of religious belief. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video (Watch FREE with Amazon Prime!)

Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale (1994, PG) – Disney version of the classic Thanksgiving story of Squanto, a young Indian warrior who befriended the Plymouth Pilgrims, as told from his perspective. Starring Adam Beach, one of the first American Indian actors to play the lead in a major motion picture, and three-time winner of the “Best Actor” award in the American Indian Film Festival. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

Homeward Bound – The Incredible Journey (1993, G) – This Disney movie is based on a book by Sheila Burford. Two dogs and a cat trek across the wilderness and survive a harrowing series of adventures (including a run-in with a mean turkey on the ranch where they stayed temporarily), as they struggle to find their way home. The three pets finally arrive back home just in time for Thanksgiving. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

Avalon (1990, PG) – A family drama spanning several generations, from the arrival of immigrant Sam Krichinsky to a suburb of Baltimore, down through his children and grandchildren. From poverty through prosperity, the Krichinsky family faces every day with enduring humor and abiding love. The Thanksgiving holiday plays a crucial role throughout the film (as does July 4th). This intensely personal family portrait is a universally appealing tapestry of American life. The movie stars 9-year-old Elijah Wood! Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

Molly’s Pilgrim (1985) – A Russian Jewish immigrant girl is given a class assignment to create a doll based on a Thanksgiving character. She makes a Russian immigrant doll because Russian Jews are Pilgrims too, having come to America for religious freedom. Based on the book “Molly’s Pilgrim” by Barbara Cohen, this award-winning live-action film features a message about religious tolerance, American values, Thanksgiving, and growing up. Buy DVD

A Day for Thanks on Walton’s Mountain/A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion (1982) – In “A Day for Thanks on Walton’s Mountain,” the Walton household has begun to go their separate ways. Elizabeth is feeling sad and wishes they could all get together to celebrate Thanksgiving. The movie closes with the family at the Thanksgiving table, remembering those who can’t be there. In “A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion,” we are suddenly catapulted from the late forties into the early sixties with this very special Walton reunion movie. Based on the Emmy-award winning TV series. Buy DVD

Mayflower: The Pilgrims Adventure (1979) – Originally titled The Voyage of the Mayflower, this made-for-TV feature was first telecast as a Thanksgiving special. Set in 1620, the story concerns the religious persecution of the Puritans in England and their decision to emigrate to America. It meticulously recounts the journey of 103 Pilgrim separatists from their religiously restrictive English homeland to the shores of the New World. This is a fairly accurate and enjoyable historical drama, with the most important details about who, what, where, and why informatively answered. VHS | Watch on YouTube

Rocky (1976, PG) – This classic story won a Best Picture award. It’s a tough and tender portrait of a loser who becomes a winner in the things that matter. It includes a memorable exchange of lines in which Adrian says to her brother: “Paulie, it’s Thanksgiving. I got a turkey in the oven.” Paulie says, “Oh, a turkey in the oven!” He opens up the oven, grabs the turkey, and throws it out the door. “You want the bird?” he hollers, “Go out in the alley and eat the bird!” This movie is best for teens and adults. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) – This classic holiday special with the Peanuts gang is an Emmy-award winning cartoon. Charlie Brown is planning on going to his grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, but then Peppermint Patty and her friends show up. Charlie, Linus, Snoopy and Woodstock concoct a quick feast of popcorn, toast, jellybeans, and pretzels. In the end, all of the kids go to Grandma’s house singing “Over the river and through the woods…” The DVD comes with a 24-min. bonus feature, “The Mayflower Voyagers,” which features Peanuts characters as Pilgrims and tells the story of how the Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower to America, settled in their new homeland, and celebrated the first Thanksgiving feast. This was fairly educational and much more interesting than the main feature! Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video | Watch “The Mayflower Voyagers” on Daily Motion for FREE!

The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t (1972) – “The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t” is not forgotten. This special, which first aired on November 26, 1972, will bring back childhood memories for us “adult-children,” and hopefully will light a special place in the minds of today’s kids. Watch on YouTube: Part 1 | Part 2

Mouse on the Mayflower (1969) – This 45 minute classic TV special is an animated fantasy that traces the story of The Mayflower as told from the perspective of the Pilgrims’ church-mouse. The brave little mouse helped the Pilgrims survive both the dangerous sea voyage and the cold New England winter, while staying on peaceful terms with their Indian neighbors. VHS | Watch on YouTube

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – Susan’s mother told her the “secret” about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn’t expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department stare Santa who’s convinced he’s the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all – something to believe in. This is technically a Christmas movie, but it’s a great way to kick off the holiday season since it starts out with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Buy DVD | Amazon Instant Video

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