Thanksgiving weekend, 1992, the follow up to one of, if not the, funniest movies I had ever seen (to date) was hitting the theaters: HOME ALONE 2: Lost in New York. My eight-year-old self and entire family cannot wait, we are so excited to see this movie during our long weekend together.
Now in 1992, you didn’t have reserve-ahead seats, and you couldn’t just roll up to your reclining leather chairs with personal waiter seconds before curtain. When a hot movie came out, you had to get to the theater early…like really early. We’re talking at least an hour, or in some rare cases, you may have even camped out the night before (looking at you STAR WARS fans), and you waited in line as patiently as you could, for the high school aged custodial staff gate keeper to tell you, you were all clear to enter the theatre. Then I sprinted my little legs in an effort to keep up with my power-walking mom, and headed towards (hopefully) the best seats in the house. If your sibling was in the bathroom, you planned ahead and brought a sweatshirt you put on the seat to reserve it and nobody better try and take it from you. It was an event.
So, that weekend in 1992, with home-popped popcorn stuffed in ziplock bags at the bottom of my mom’s purse, we came armed and ready. I could honestly tell you very little about HOME ALONE 2 from watching it that day (though I have watched it as an adult now and can tell you more), but those Thanksgiving weekend movies at the theater with my family are times that I will never forget.
Fast-forward to 2020 during a global pandemic: I can’t take my son to the theater for a Thanksgiving weekend family blockbuster, but I can plan a fun movie night complete with popcorn (or pizza in this family’s case), candy (or leftover pie), family, and a little movie nostalgia for me. Make it extra special, draw up fake tickets, and make a poster-board marquee with different movies the kids can pick from. And to help with movie ideas here are 8 nostalgic Thanksgiving-weekend releases to stream now:
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II (PG, Thanksgiving weekend 1989)
BTTF Pt II introduces teen time-traveler, Marty McFly’s to the future year of 2015: complete with flying cars, video calls, and total nostalgia-inducing hover boards. It eventually takes us back to a completely altered 1985 that Marty must then travel back to 1955 to fix. If you haven’t seen the first Back To The Future, you may want to start there…and then maybe just enjoy a three-movie marathon, that no one will be mad about. With a PG rating that would more likely land at PG-13 now due to language and some mild violence, it is probably best to share with our slightly older kids (10+), but it will certainly make for a fun night. Streaming now on Netflix and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime
HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK (PG, Thanksgiving weekend 1992)
In HOME ALONE 2, 10-year-old, Kevin McCallister accidentally boards a different plane than his family and finds himself landing alone in New York, but living it up with cash and credit cards. However, he again gets tangled up with the notorious Wet Bandits, and Kevin has to battle back with his trademark belly laugh inducing booby traps. And it wouldn’t be a HOME ALONE movie without its fair share of heartfelt family moments. This is another one with a PG-rating that would more likely land at PG-13 now due to language and some mild violence, so it’s probably best to share with kids 10 and up. Hmm…another sequel. Building quite the weekend movie marathon to finish off that pie… Streaming on Disney+ and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
THE NUTCRACKER (G, Thanksgiving weekend 1993)
I saw both HOME ALONE movies as a kid, but it wasn’t until THE NUTCRACKER that I had a crush on Macaulay Culkin. As a parent now, who wants to expose her child to all the arts, this is a must see. I won’t be taking my son to a ballet this year, so this a great second choice. Streaming on IMDb TV and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
MRS. DOUBTFIRE (PG-13, Thanksgiving weekend 1993)
With a PG-13 rating for some strong language (including an f-bomb) this might not be the choice for younger families, but Robin William’s broad comedy and brilliant acting always leaves me laughing and crying at the real family struggle that divorce can bring. Plus, it takes me right back to the days after that Thanksgiving weekend in the fourth grade when all my classmates were talking about it and finding any excuse necessary to shout, “Toot-a-loo!” Streaming on HBO NOW and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
TOY STORY (G, Thanksgiving weekend 1995)
I’ll never forget when Toy Story came out. Despite being just nine at the time, I knew animation would never be the same. It was really cool, clever, and even funny for adults. Though Pixar has definitely made better movies since, it is always fun to go back and appreciate a classic that changed the game. Plus, if you haven’t picked your child up and flown them around the room like they’re Woody and Buzz Lightyear “falling with style” after they are shot off on the rocket, then you’re missing out. Stream it on Disney+ and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
FLUBBER (PG, Thanksgiving weekend 1997)
A totally silly remake of 1961’s THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR. If you’re looking to share the brilliant comedy of Robin Williams with your child, without the ear-muffs required for MRS. DOUBTFIRE, this is the perfect film. And if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy laughing all over again with your child, at Dr. Phillip Brainard’s adorable and hilariously destructive little green invention. Streaming on Disney+ and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
A BUG’S LIFE (G, released Thanksgiving weekend 1998)
Ironically, this film is also about a misfit inventor, though I doubt it is coincidental on Disney’s part. In A BUG’S LIFE, Flick, an ant, needing to prove himself to his colony, goes out to find a group of warriors to help them stand-up to the greedy grasshoppers. Heimlich, the cute caterpillar with a German accent, always makes me laugh and will be sure to wrestle some giggles out of your kids as well. Streaming on Disney+ and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
THE HAUNTED MANSION (PG, Thanksgiving weekend 2003)
After loving the other Disney parks ride-based film, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN earlier that year, I was so excited for THE HAUNTED MANSION. It offered so much nostalgia for the actual Haunted Mansion ride and ended up being perfect for our family (may be a little spooky for the littles, so consider it for those around 8 and up). And, since Thanksgiving weekend seems to be the sweet spot for family films starring huge comedians, we are treated to the legendary Eddie Murphy who does not disappoint in his role as Jim Evers. Streaming on Disney+ and available to rent/buy on Amazon Prime Video.
In the last ten years, we’ve seen some instant classics from Disney hit on Thanksgiving: TANGLED (2010), FROZEN (2013), MOANA (2016), and COCO (2017), but I bet you may already be watching those on repeat on Disney+.
With the right nostalgic family film and a few special touches, consider another beautiful family memory banked for you and your children. And one more reason to be thankful this weekend.
With all of us missing the actual movie theater this year, comment with your favorite movie theater memories here. I can’t wait to read them.
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