Football, Friends, and Family: PG-13 Movies for Thanksgiving

After you’ve stuffed yourself full with a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, it’s nice to kick back with the relatives and watch a movie together. Put together a mini-marathon, and there will be plenty of time to enjoy some pumpkin pie in front of the TV, too. Whether your family likes action, comedy, or heartwarming stories, there’s a perfect movie for your Thanksgiving celebration.

“Planes, Trains and Automobiles”

One of the greatest comedies ever made, this Steve Martin and John Candy film is the standard by which all other road movies are judged. Martin stars as fastidious and uptight businessman Neal Page, desperately trying to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving during a snowstorm. Candy is gregarious, untidy shower curtain ring salesman Del Griffith, who “helps” him get there. The unlikely friendship begins when Del unknowingly steals Neal’s cab, and continues on through a string of flight delays, cheap motel rooms, and exploding rental cars.

The comedy in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is both sharp and slapstick, with a quotable line every minute. Martin and the late comedian Candy are in top form, giving us an incredibly funny film that is ultimately extremely poignant. This one is worthy of being watched every holiday season as a tradition. As this was the early days of the PG-13 rating, the film actually netted an “R” for some of the adult-themed humor, but it would easily get a PG-13 today. For pre-teens, you may want to fast forward through a few bits of dialogue, like Martin’s hilariously uncharacteristic F-word rant at the rental car counter.


Superheroes are always in season, and this tale of a nerdy teenager who transforms into a hero is an entertaining film for all your holiday guests to enjoy. Along with the exciting scaling of buildings and saving of damsels in distress, there’s plenty of family drama and an awkward Thanksgiving dinner for Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) courtesy of Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), aka Green Goblin.

“Spiderman” has been one of the most successful comic book franchises because it appeals on so many levels. There’s action, adventure, romance, thrills, humor, and suspense in what is ultimately a coming of age story.

“Spider-Man” is rated PG-13 to cover some of the violence that might be too much for younger kids. Make it a movie marathon and add “Spider-Man 2,” which has one of the coolest elevated train action sequences ever.

“The Blind Side”

The film that finally netted America’s sweetheart Sandra Bullock an Oscar, “The Blind Side” is a lot less stuffy and a lot more entertaining than most Academy Awards season bait. Quinton Aaron stars as Michael Oher, an emotionally damaged and homeless boy who gets a second chance in life from a private school football coach and a wealthy family led by spitfire Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock). While there are elements of heartbreak and drama, there are also a lot of funny and endearing moments. “The Blind Side” also isn’t afraid to question the motives of those who do charitable acts and does a valiant job of telling this story about love, friendship,and family without creating cartoonish villains or irreproachable saints.

“The Blind Side” has a PG-13 rating, but mature kids should be able to watch with parents and family available to discuss the heavier issues. The film also fits our holiday theme with a nice scene that has this busy and distracted family — something many of us can identify with — learn from an outsider how to appreciate and respect the Thanksgiving holiday tradition of sharing a meal.

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