Thanksgiving gets somewhat shortchanged in the movies, Eli Roth fake trailers aside. Perhaps screenwriters and filmmakers think that Thanksgiving doesn't present opportunities for cinematic conflict and action. If that's the case, they have a profound lack of imagination ... and they haven't been to a big family Thanksgiving dinner. My favorite Turkey Day scene in any movie is set at a family dinner table, but the action is riveting, just like a train wreck. Director Jodie Foster and writer W.D. Richter get it exactly right in the 1995 film 'Home for the Holidays.'
'Home for the Holidays' is a lovely movie to watch on Thanksgiving with your family, if for no other reason than to feel thankful your own dinner isn't like the one in the movie. Holly Hunter's single mom Claudia, laid off from her dream job and feeling low-spirited, is spending her holiday with her parents. It's easy to sympathize as she battles a cold, is enveloped immediately by her mother in a pink monstrosity of a coat, and can't even get a decent night's sleep without being attacked by relatives. Fortunately, her family is portrayed by a fantastic array of actors who bring empathy to characters we might not want to spend our own holiday with: Anne Bancroft as her chain-smoking mother; Charles Durning as the sentimental dad, complete with video camera; Cynthia Stevenson as the super-perfectionist, super-unhappy sister.