Thanksgiving 2021 Streaming Guide

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Before you know it, the holidays will be here! We've been using these cute cartoon turkey paper plates and napkins we found at Walmart, and our Thanksgiving decorations have been scattered about the house for a week now.  With the temperatures in New York dipping into the 40s, it's starting to feel like Thanksgiving!  

That means it's also time to watch some of our favorite Thanksgiving movies!  While most Turkey Day movies are often pushed aside by the Christmas set of films, there are still plenty of enjoyable movies for those of us who wait until after Thanksgiving to move on to Christmas.  


Like many holiday movies, most of the Thanksgiving movies you'll find have just one scene set at the Thanksgiving dinner table or just barely mention the holiday.  What my wife and I consider to be the true Thanksgiving films requires the plot to be based around Thanksgiving or at the very least focus on people traveling home to their family for Thanksgiving.  

So, if you're ready for some turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy along with the fellowship of friends and family, be thankful for these films to help you get into the mood for the Thanksgiving holiday!  

Click ahead for the list!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
I don't think there is any other movie more synonymous with Thanksgiving than Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.  Watching the journey that Neal and Del take to get back to Chicago for Thanksgiving will put anyone in the mood for sharing that special time with friends and family.  This film has everything you want in a comedy but takes several serious turns and still provides that feel-good happy ending.

Subscription: It had been AMC+ but seems to no longer be available
Rent or Buy: VUDU, Redbox, Amazon

Dutch (1991)
This is our second favorite Thanksgiving movie, and it's very similar to "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." It was written by the same writer as "Planes," the great John Hughes.  It stars Ed O'Neill and Ethan Embry on their journey home for Thanksgiving.  Dutch is unavailable on streaming services but buy it immediately if you come across this film on DVD.  Be warned, though, the DVD is in very limited quantities and sometimes goes for as high as $100 for a used copy on eBay!

Home For The Holidays (1995)
This holiday rom-com was directed by Jodie Foster and features a sprawling cast that reads like a who's who of Hollywood.  The cast list includes Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Dylan McDermott, Steve Guttenberg, Cynthia Stevenson, and Claire Danes.  The film follows Claudia, a young woman who, after losing her job, finds out that her daughter has plans of her own for the holiday.  So she departs Chicago to spend her Thanksgiving with her dysfunctional family.

Free: The Roku Channel, Pluto TV
Rent or Buy: VUDU, Amazon, Redbox

Free Birds (2013)
In my research for Thanksgiving movies, this one kept coming up.  Admittedly, I've never seen it, but it features computer-animated turkeys who fear Thanksgiving.  When the one who sounds the alarm bells, Reggie, is thrown out of the group as a sacrificial lamb (er, turkey), he's pardoned by the President of the United States.  The film stars the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, and Amy Poehler.   

Subscription: Netflix or Roku
Rent or Buy: VUDU, Amazon, Redbox

Friendsgiving (2020)
I must have missed this one when it was released last year, but this comedy stars Kat Dennings, Malin Ackerman, Chelsea Peretti, and the fabulous Jane Seymour.  It involves a dysfunctional, chaotic, and comical Thanksgiving dinner, according to the write-up.  

Subscription: Netflix
Rent or Buy: VUDU, Amazon, Redbox

National Lampoon's Thanksgiving Family Reunion (2003)
Before researching this list, I'd never heard of "Thanksgiving Family Reunion," but it certainly piqued my interest. This 2003 direct-to-television film was released on TBS and stars Brian Cranston (Breaking Bad) and Judge Reinhold (Fast Times at Ridgemont High.)  In some places, the film is listed as National Lampoon's Family Reunion.  The stars in this one have helped this one land on my watch list for this year's holiday!

Free: The Roku Channel

The Thanksgiving Promise (1986)
This made-for-TV movie was produced by Walt Disney and stars Beau Bridges.  Bridges also served as director for the film.  Thanksgiving Promise features a young boy looking after the chosen goose for the family Thanksgiving feast and has to convince his family to save the old bird.  

Free:  YouTube

Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz created huge ratings over the years for network television and has become a tradition for many.  CBS owned the broadcast rights for several years and made a tradition of screening the film between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Ted Turner bought the rights to the movie in the late 90s and typically broadcast the film on Thanksgiving Day.  In more recent years, TNT aired the film closer to Christmas.  As of writing, there are no published air times for TBS or TNT in 2021.  

Subscription: HBO Max, TBS, TNT
Rent or Buy: VUDU, Redbox, Amazon


March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934)
Also known as Babes in Toyland, this classic Laurel and Hardy film has been traditionally broadcast on Thanksgiving and Christmas over the years.  My Dad always made sure this movie was on our TVs, thanks to WPIX-11 when I was growing up, and I always make sure to continue the tradition today.  Thanksgiving or Christmas, this movie must be watched!  As of this writing, there is no published air time for 2021's showings but I'll keep checking.

Free: The Roku Channel, Tubi, Pluto TV
Subscription: Hoopla, Dove, PureFlix
Rent or Buy: VUDU, Amazon

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