A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving may still be a classic family tale, but your tweens and teens may roll their eyes when you suggest it for a holiday weekend family movie night. Now that they’re older, your kids understand subplots and messages woven into more mature movies. Maybe it’s time to choose a movie that has elements of family and the holidays without any cartoon characters in sight. Who knows what conversations might pop up?
The Blind Side (2009)
This is a feel-good film about Michael "Big Mike" Oher — a homeless teenager whose mother is a drug addict and father is nowhere to be seen. The Blind Side is based on the true story of Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw), who take Michael in and provide him with the family atmosphere he’s been missing. With little education and limited skills, he has a difficult time with his school work. Leigh Anne takes charge and works closely with Michael to give him every opportunity to succeed.
When he expresses an interest in football, she does everything she can to encourage and help him, even pointing out Michael’s talents and specific skills to the coach. The Tuohy family even hires a tutor to help Michael bring his grades up to the point where he would qualify for an NCAA Division I athletic scholarship. In real life, Michael Oher went on to become the first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)
While this movie may seem a bit dated, the story line is timeless. Planes, Trains and Automobiles follows marketing executive Neal Page (Steve Martin), who is trying desperately to get home to his family for Thanksgiving — and nothing is going his way. He somehow can’t shake the loudmouthed, quirky and annoying fellow traveler Del Griffith (John Candy) who seems to be at every turn. Their adventures and mishaps are hilarious, while the underlying mission for Neal to get home to his family drives home the Thanksgiving message. For many families, watching this movie is a Thanksgiving tradition.
Pieces of April (2003)
Got a quirky family? It’s nothing like what April Burns (Katie Holmes) is dealing with in Pieces of April. She attempts to make Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged suburban family in her grungy apartment in New York. She wants them to meet her boyfriend, her oven is broken and she finds herself desperately wanting to pull this holiday off without failing. Oliver Platt, Sean Hayes and Patricia Clarkson also star in this drama that showcases a dysfunctional family and how they come together to deal with past issues and move forward to the future. Watching this movie will most likely make your tweens and teens appreciative of their somewhat “normal” family life.
Big Fish (2003)
Big Fish is a film that almost defies description. Starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney and Billy Crudup, this fantasy tale is woven mostly through flashbacks. Will Bloom is a young man who is estranged from his father and hasn’t spoken to him in years. When he learns that his father is dying of cancer, he tries to learn more about his life by finding the truth behind the legends and tall tales his father has spent a lifetime spinning. Through a series of flashbacks, we follow the life of his father, Edward Bloom, when his son visits him for the last time. There may not be a dry eye in your house, but Big Fish is a film that will certainly leave you (and your teens) thinking.
Check out one of these movies with your tweens and teens over the Thanksgiving holiday and see what conversations you stir up.
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