Recommendations for youth-oriented, Thanksgiving-themed movies?
November 15, 2005 7:26 AM   Subscribe

Any Thanksgiving themed film recommendations for High School youth group?

I am a leader of a liberal demonination church (PCUSA) youth group for high school age kids just had a guest speaker engagement drop out for my next session on Sunday. So, instead of scrambling to put something together at the last second, thought it might be useful to show and discuss a movie.

Along these lines, can anyone recommend some Thanksgiving themed movies (gratitude, counting one's blessings, etc.) that might be age appropriate. Doesn't have to be religious in nature, if fact, given the non-proselytizing nature of how we're conducting the group, I'd really prefer that it not be.

Any and all recommendations are appreciated.
posted by Tommy Gnosis to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
I just watched "Pieces of April". It's an indie film that stars Katie Holmes (bear with me, please) as the rejected daughter in a family where the mother is dying of cancer and the sister is perfect. She invites them to T-Giving at her NYC apartment, and the movie is all about her preparations as well as the family's trip to New York. There's a lot of sharing amongst the people in the apartment building, and overall it would be a great movie to discuss.

According to the MPAA it is rated "PG-13 for language, sensuality, drug content and images of nudity."
The only "bad" things I can recall are a scene of people having sex and some gang violence.
posted by nekton at 7:35 AM on November 15, 2005

Babette's Feast- might be a hard sell at first as it about old Dutch people, and has subtitles, but its food imagery is so sumptuous and its take on community, religion, spirituality and worldly pleasure is very different from any movie I've ever seen. Also is free of nudity, violence and swearing.
posted by Sara Anne at 8:00 AM on November 15, 2005

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles would be fun and you could at least get a little discussion out of it... probably as much out of teenagers as any other movie if you looked at it from a serious side.

It is rated "R", though.
posted by starman at 8:13 AM on November 15, 2005

Yes, the scene where Steve Martin asks for "a fucking car, with two fucking seats, four fucking tires, and a fucking steering wheel" will go over so well with a church group.
posted by briank at 8:16 AM on November 15, 2005

The Peanuts Thanksgiving special is terrible...avoid!
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:24 AM on November 15, 2005

Dutch is good but it is PG-13
posted by Cool Alex at 8:36 AM on November 15, 2005

Postcards from Peje which was written and filmed by teenagers in the Balkans is an amazing video. I've gotten a very strong reaction when I screen it for teens and college students. Really focuses their attention on what is important in life. Because it was written by teens, they can easily relate to it.

Same with Frontline's Coolhunters video. The groups of teens I've shown this to are fascinated and repelled by this at the same time. Especially when they come to the conclusion on their own (has happened in every group I've discussed this with) that they are being "played". I don't have to bring anything up for them. They discuss materialism and life priorities on their own, and I usually just help facilitate taking turns speaking.
posted by jeanmari at 8:36 AM on November 15, 2005

The Straight Story is a great family film, rated G I believe (and by David Lynch!)
posted by Heminator at 8:56 AM on November 15, 2005

What's Cookin'
Thanks Giving themed, probably appropriate for this age group. Could be ideal. Deals with different cultural traditions, families, etc.
posted by cushie at 9:01 AM on November 15, 2005

Yes, the scene where Steve Martin asks for "a fucking car, with two fucking seats, four fucking tires, and a fucking steering wheel" will go over so well with a church group.

...and that's the TV version!
posted by starman at 9:44 AM on November 15, 2005

I'm with nekton on Pieces of April. The dynamics between various family members could jumpstart a lot of discussion among high schoolers. And, it's a hip looking movie, not a hard sell at all.
posted by clh at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2005

Ah, I really liked "The Straight Story," as mentioned above. It doesn't have anything to do with Thanksgiving, but it does feature one man's long journey across an entire state (via a 5-mph tractor) to see his estranged brother, and all the people he meets along the way. Despite its G rating, it's really not sappy or saccharine. You could talk about determination and self-reliance (the main character turns down offers of rides in a car, since he'd rather get there on his own).
posted by lisa g at 10:31 AM on November 15, 2005

I'll throw in a 3rd rec for Pieces of April. The crux of April's dilemma is that her oven has broken and she needs to cook her turkey, so she's forced to knock on her neighbors' doors begging for assistence. Her building is quite multicultural; I remember an older black couple, a snobby gay man, and a large Asian family, all of whom seemed very "real" and not the usual token minorities you meet in Hollywood movies.

Also, there's a sub-plot about April's black boyfriend, who spends the day making calls from pay phones and meeting up with shady looking characters (including some gang members). It will allow your kids to confront their preconceptions about young black males.
posted by junkbox at 11:10 AM on November 15, 2005

The Adam's Family features a lovely scene from one of the children's school play about Thanksgiving.
posted by spork at 12:42 PM on November 15, 2005

Make that Addams Family Values there, spork.
Also, like I've suggested in other threads, check out what IMDb suggests for the keyword of Thanksgiving, and seeing what you can find out of there. The Ice Storm seems to be a popular choice, but is a tad bit inappropriate for a church group.
posted by itchie at 1:01 PM on November 15, 2005

Wiffff... a swing and a miss!
posted by spork at 1:11 PM on November 15, 2005

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