Thanksgiving is a time for families to travel from near and far to enjoy each others’ company and stuff more food into our faces than is socially acceptable on any other day.
But outside of the meal, traditions vary. Some will leave the dinner table to get in line for Black Friday, others will drink and watch football. At my house, we’ve started to throw on a movie after dinner to occupy the kids (and adults who are suffering from a tryptophan overdose).
It’s always a debate as to what flick to choose to satisfy this varied audience, so I took the liberty of prepping 10 movies currently streaming on Netflix that are a blast for the entire family. These are in no order, so feel free to pick what makes sense for your family.
Hook (PG, 2 hrs 28 minutes)
Steven Spielberg’s continuation of the classic tale of Peter Pan is an enjoyable romp through Neverland, but it’s also a chance to see some great performances from Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, and Bob Hoskins. Spielberg’s ability to inject childish wonder into every frame of his films serves him well in Hook, given the subject matter.
The Rocketeer (PG, 1 hr 48 minutes)
An often forgotten live-action Disney adventure, The Rocketeer is a poor man’s Indiana Jones, which is just fine by me. When a stunt pilot finds a top-secret jetpack created by the Nazis, he becomes a superhero who fights crime and saves the world. With historical fiction serving as a conspiracy subplot and a memorable performance by Timothy Dalton, The Rocketeer is an action-packed blockbuster that kids and adults alike can enjoy.
Cool Runnings (PG, 1 hr 38 minutes)
Another forgotten live-action classic from Disney. John Candy is hilarious as coach of the brand-new Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympics. The kids will laugh at the team’s accents, but it’s actually a great sports movie about overcoming the impossible (as most Disney sports movies are).
FernGully: The Last Rainforest (G, 1 hr 15 minutes)
I still maintain the theory that Fern Gully was the animated inspiration for James Cameron’s Avatar. The flick revolves around a wasteful and ignorant teenager who is shrunken down to the size of the wildlife in the rain forest he is in. He befriends the creatures around him and leads the charge against the humans to save their home (sound familiar?). Great voice acting by Slater, Tim Curry, and Robin Williams (the same year he played The Genie in Aladdin) make this a great animated flick with an important message.
Rocky / Rocky II / Rocky III / Rocky IV (PG, runtime varies)
The merits of each of Sylvester Stallone’s boxing franchise is for another article entirely. Everyone has a favorite Rocky, and as long as you’re not watching Rocky V, you’re in for a winner.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids (PG, 1 hr, 33 minutes)
This 1989 Disney flick made Rick Moranis a household name, but most kids nowadays probably have no idea this film even exists. Granted, it probably doesn’t capture the magic it once did due to our insensitivity to phenomenal special effects these days, but still a fun one to revisit and reintroduce to young ones.
The Karate Kid (PG, 2 hrs 6 minutes)
The Karate Kid defined the fish-out-of-water, underdog sports movie. I still hear it quoted to this day. But if you asked today’s youth if they’ve seen The Karate Kid, they’ll start talking about Jaden Smith. Quick, throw this on before you go any further down that rabbit hole.
The Mighty Ducks (PG, 1 hr 43 minutes)
I didn’t realize how many sports movies were on this list when I compiled it, but no matter: The Mighty Ducks is worth it. Emilio Estevez leads his his hockey team of misfits to victory, and it will have you chanting “Quack… Quack… Quack” for days.
The Emperor’s New Groove (G, 1 hr 18 minutes)
The Emperor’s New Groove is laugh-out-loud funny, regardless of its audience, and yet no one seems to have seen or remembered it among Disney’s pantheon of animated films. David Spade is pitch perfect as the annoyingly spoiled Emperor Kuzco, John Goodman is also great as Pacha way before he became Sully in Monsters Inc., and Patrick Warburton (David Puddy in Seinfeld) steals every scene he’s in as Kronk. It’s arguably my favorite Disney movie that no one knows about, next to A Goofy Movie.
Beethoven (PG, 1 hr 26 minutes)
Charles Grodin and Bonnie Hunt trying to tame a wild St. Bernard for 90 minutes? Sign me up. Is Beethoven a great movie? Certainly not, but when you’re looking for a watchable flick that will keep kids’ attention, Beethoven does the job just fine.
If your family is all grown up, there’s only one movie on Netflix I recommend this Thanksgiving:
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (R, 1 hr 32 minutes)
Planes is the quintessential Thanksgiving movie, an R-rated John Hughes flick starring Steve Martin and John Candy that perfectly captures the frustration of traveling for the holidays. If you haven’t seen this, watch it right now.
What are your favorite family films? Do you have any cool and unique holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments!