Celebrate Thanksgiving With 17 Of The Best Feast Scenes In Film
Prepare for turkey day by tucking into 17 movies with memorable dinners.
Ah, Thanksgiving. A holiday devoted to eating absolutely lavish amounts of food with friends or family (or completely by yourself this year, given the current pandemic situation). But while gorging yourself on autumnal favorites sounds like a dream in theory--and don't get us wrong, sometimes in practice, it really, really is--it can also be an absolute nightmare. From family drama to cooking mishaps, the art of the Thanksgiving feast is a deeply precarious one where the risk sometimes greatly outweighs the reward.
Thanksgiving also happens to be the odd man out in terms of winter holiday pop culture. Between Halloween and Christmas, there are movies aplenty to watch and celebrate with, but Thanksgiving has exactly two real classics: Addams Family Values and Planes Trains and Automobiles. This means you might find yourself hard pressed for entertainment to really set the mood for turkey day. So we broadened the net a little and decided to loosen up our definition of what, exactly, makes for good Thanksgiving entertainment.
The answer is food, of course--and lots of it, for better or for worse.
So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of the absolute best (or most horrific, funniest, most wholesome--you name it) feast scenes in film to represent the entire spectrum of possible Thanksgiving emotions. Absolutely dreading spending time with relatives? There's a movie for that. Really looking to have a fantastic and cheerful time despite it all? There's a movie for that too. Here are 17 of the best feast scenes around to really get you in the mood to chow down.
1. The Avengers
Okay, so this one doesn't exactly feature a big family dinner in the actual movie itself, but we'd be totally remiss to not include the infamous Shawarma stinger. It remains one of the funniest post-credits scenes the MCU's ever pulled off and, hey, sometimes a family can be the vaguely antagonistic superheroes you fought off aliens with, right?
2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Not all dinners are made equal. The infamous, horrific dinner scene is a motif that gets repeated in multiple iterations of the Texas Chainsaw franchise, but the first pulled it off the best--or worst, depending on your definition. Hopefully your real-life Thanksgiving doesn't feel like this, but, well, if it does? Solidarity.
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fantastic Mr. Fox is a movie about a lot of things--funny woodland creatures playing made up sports, real estate, search and rescue parties, weird distant relatives, you name it. But it's also a movie about food, specifically about stealing it and chowing down with absolute abandon.
4. Spirited Away
Studio Ghibli movies are famous for their decadent, otherworldly animation of the most ridiculously tasty looking cartoon food around and Spirited Away might have some of the best examples--just, you know, be careful what you start drooling after. Too much of it might turn you into a very literal pig.
This dinner scene features a three-point combo of perfection: an absolutely iconic soundtrack (Harry Belafonte's Day-O), insufferable people getting their comeuppance via ghost possession, and extremely creepy looking shrimp-hands. You absolutely cannot beat it. If you're going to have a bad time this holiday season, we sincerely hope your family time turns out more like this than, say, Texas Chainsaw.
6. Pan's Labyrinth
Alright, this one might be cheating--technically there's no "family" to be found here (if anything Pan's Labyrinth is kind of about losing family, if you really think about it) but there's still a feast. You just might want to be careful about actually eating anything on this particular table.
Who doesn't love a good food fight? If the dinner in Pan's Labyrinth is imaginary for both tragic and evil purposes, the imaginary dinner in Hook is the exact opposite. The food may be completely made up--but everything in Neverland is. That doesn't make it any less tangible. And, hey, it may not look the most appetizing but at least it works really, really well as an impromptu weapon.
8. Edward Scissorhands
In the pantheon of awkward family dinners, the one in Edward Scissorhands ranks pretty high. There's nothing quite like the passive aggression of a suburban family trying to maintain appearances with a dinner guest--especially when that guest is a monster with knives for hands. It's incredibly cute, but will also make you cringe in sympathy as poor Ed ("Edward, dear, he prefers Edward") struggles to pick up his silverware.
Another '90s classic from the total opposite end of the spectrum, Goodfellas features a totally different type of suburban dinner, care of a very well meaning mother inadvertently interrupting a body dump. If you're going to be cringing through this one, it won't be because it's cute and awkward.
10. A Christmas Story
Depending on where you try and hold the line at allowing real Christmas movies to start filtering into your life, Thanksgiving might be a bit too early to start watching something like A Christmas Story--but either way, you have to hand it to a movie full of impeccable dinner scenes. From eating out at a Chinese restaurant (a scene that, for modern audiences, may be tricky to watch thanks to the incredibly blatant racism) to struggling with younger siblings, this one is what we like to call relatable.
11. Get Out
Sometimes family dinners can just be deeply uncomfortable affairs for reasons that aren't cringe-worthy or awkwardly funny. Take this moment in Jordan Peele's Get Out, for example--chances are you're just going to end up feeling creeping dread and overwhelming discomfort as this story unfolds.
12. Mrs. Doubtfire
Nothing quite brings a family together like Robin Williams in drag violently giving the heimlich maneuver to a choking Pierce Brosnan. Or, if this is less your speed, there's always Mrs. Doubtfire pulling the classic gambit of ordering a bunch of take out and then pretending to have slaved away in the kitchen preparing it--which, going into the holidays, is probably something most of us have considered trying to do at least once.
13. It Chapter 2
Not all dining out experiences have fantastic punchlines--take, for instance, The Losers' reunion in It Chapter 2. What starts as a hilarious meet-up of long lost friends rapidly turns into a nightmarish, hallucinatory hellscape. Which, again, depending on who you are, could actually be pretty relatable.
14. Beauty and the Beast
There's nothing like a dinner scene that's also a good musical number. Don't lie--you've got parts of "Be Our Guest"' memorized from childhood, and you've probably thought about it on more than one fancy dining occasion. It's fine. If anything, keep this one in your heart when you're doing the lame part of Thanksgiving--clean up and dishes. At least if you lived in a giant cursed castle, the plates and silverware would all be cleaning themselves.
15. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Hopefully no one is serving you Snake Surprise, giant beetles, or soup full of eyeballs at your next family gathering, but if they do you'll definitely be prepared for it after watching this one. It may be incredibly xenophobic when you look at it from a modern perspective, so be aware of that going in, but if nothing else, the practical effects here still hold up.
16. Harold and Kumar go to White Castle
Sometimes the real feast is the comically overblown misadventures you have along the way. We'd be totally remiss to skip over this stoner classic, even if there's not much actual dinner to be had. Just enjoy the journey.
17. Donnie Darko
If Edward Scissor hands features suburban passive aggression at the dinner table, Donnie Darko features suburban aggression. With any luck, your Thanksgiving won't make for any directly antagonistic exchanges between you and your siblings, but if it does, please try and be as creative in your cursing as Donnie and his sister are here.