The eternal goal for Thanksgiving Day: find some neutral entertainment that won't set anyone off or put anyone to sleep before the night is over. Because now that you've cleared the path of dinner-time land mines, Hurdle Part II is maintaining the peace after the dishes have been cleared. Here, seven non-snooze-worthy Thanksgiving movies to schedule for that awkward time before dessert when everyone's working off their food babies.
1. Hannah and Her Sisters
Woody Allen's early critical success Hannah and Her Sisters charts the course of Hannah's (played by Mia Farrow) extended family over three successive Thanksgiving dinners. Intertwining narratives, existential crises, and broken marriages make this a more challenging, but ultimately more interesting (read: conversation!) movie to watch together. Plus, the supporting cast is A+.
2. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Although this one's not explicitly a Thanksgiving movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a phenomenal fall option to break out for the family (the cider! the cute animals! the food scenes!), and will keep you laughing through dessert. The lovable stop-motion Wes Anderson flick gathers a crowd of notable voice actors (Meryl Streep 🙌, George Clooney, and Bill Murray all in the mix) in a tale of a chicken-stealing fox who finally gets caught on a farm raid. After he escapes, three local farmers plot to end him by digging him out underground, so Mr. Fox enlists the whole community on an escape mission to save their lives.
3. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
*The* quintessential Thanksgiving film is a John Hughes (Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club) flick that's one of his best, even if there are no cool teens involved. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a road story about two ill-matched travelers who are forced to band together to make their way cross-country to get home for Thanksgiving. In classic Hughes fashion, the screwball rapport between Steve Martin and John Candy drives the movie, and there's a lot of heart and (non-dad-joke) humor to go around.
4. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
From director Ang Lee, one of the best movies ever made about food sees a Taiwanese family united by—what else?—family dinners. Three unmarried daughters live with their chef father and though their lives are diverging and they're outgrowing their traditional upbringing, they can count on one thing: an elaborate dinner at their house every Sunday where they stay up to date on each other's lives. It's bound to be a very topical end to your night!
5. The Addams Family Values
If you want to watch something that's not entirely on-the-nose for Thanksgiving, it's worth reliving the macabre hijinks of the Addams Family just to witness the epic Thanksgiving takedown (and the impressive history lesson) pulled off by Wednesday Addams. It's lighthearted enough for everyone to enjoy, and doesn't require a full attention span lest you need to steal away for another slice of pie.
6. Pieces of April
Dawson's Creek-era Katie Holmes, we hardly knew ye. This very seasonal movie surrounding Thanksgiving dinner finds itself in New York City, so a great meeting for food and Seamless-obsessed busybodies who don't cook. Our Pippi Lockstocking-ed rebel named April tries to round up her estranged family in the city after her mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, but oven troubles and her lack of cooking know-how threaten to derail the day.
7. The Ice Storm
What the "celebrities falling" gallery is to your life, this movie is to every family who thinks they're dysfunctional. The catharsis of watching the Hood family prepare for Turkey Day during the Vietnam War era will make everyone feel better about their weird family. Plus, the dramatic '70s climate makes for a classically unhinged movie. "Teen angst! Adultery! Suburban malaise! Hating on the president!"—the gang's all here, except this time they're not unfolding directly in your own home.
8. Home for the Holidays
Another dysfunctional family flick for the books is this film that stars a baby-faced Robert Downey Jr., a My So Called Life-era Claire Danes, and Holly Hunter, as estranged family members who navigate strange family politics and unearthed secrets as they gather for Thanksgiving dinner. It's definitely one to bookmark if you loved the Christmas movie The Family Stone, and fun fact: the movie was directed by Jodie Foster.