A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving This is the one with the famous episode about Charlie Brown trying to kick the football Lucy keeps snatching away from him. And Peppermint Patty invites herself to Charlie Brown’s house for Thanksgiving and he is too kind-hearted to tell her that he won’t be there because his family is going to his grandmother’s. When the Peanuts gang comes over for a feast prepared by Charlie Brown himself, Patty gets angry at being served toast and jelly beans. But when she realizes how hard her friend tried to be hospitable, she learns what gratitude really means.
Miracle on 34th Street is a Christmas movie, but it begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and it is a great family movie (for those who are comfortable with questions about Santa’s being real. The original is a classic with an adorable Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for playing Kris Kringle. But the remake is nice, too.
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving , Native American actor Graham Greene and musician Paul McCandless tell the story of Squanto’s extraordinary generosity and leadership in reaching out to the Pilgrims after he had been sold into slavery by earlier European arrivals in the New World.
My favorite Thanksgiving movies are “What’s Cooking?” with four families preparing for the holiday and “Pieces of April,” about a family, including a terminally ill mother, driving to an estranged daughter for Thanksgiving. Both are funny, touching, and wise. Wishing all of you a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude for being together, even the crazy parts.
Halloween gives kids a thrilling opportunity to act out their dreams and pretend to be characters with great power. But it can also be scary and even overwhelming for the littlest trick-or-treaters. An introduction to the holiday with videos from trusted friends can help make them feel comfortable and excited about even the spookier aspects of the holiday.
Kids ages 3-5 will enjoy Barney’s Halloween Partywith a visit to the pumpkin farm, some ideas for Halloween party games and for making Halloween decorations at home, and some safety tips for trick-or-treating at night. They will also get a kick out of Richard Scarry’s The First Halloween Ever, which is Scarry, but not at all scary!
Witches in Stitches is about witches who find it very funny when they turn their sister into a jack o’lantern. And speaking of jack o’lanterns, Spookley the Square Pumpkin, is sort of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer of pumpkins. The round pumpkins make fun of him for being different until a big storm comes and his unusual shape turns out to have some benefits.
Kids from 7-11 will enjoy , A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting. It has gorgeously imagined settings, a great cast, and an exciting story that hits the exact sweet spot between funny-scary and scary-funny. Which means it is exciting and fun. “Muppets Haunted Mansion” combines all the Muppet favorites with one of the most popular attractions at the Disney theme parks, which also inspired this year’s Haunted Mansion live-action film starring Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and LaKeith Stanfield. If you have Disney+, be sure to watch the Behind the Attraction episode about the creation of the various Haunted Mansions and how each one is designed specifically for its location.
Don’t forget the classic It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and the silly fun of What’s New Scooby-Doo: Halloween Boos and Clues. Try The Worst Witch movie and series, about a young witch in training who keeps getting everything wrong. School-age kids will also enjoy The Halloween Tree, an animated version of a story by science fiction author Ray Bradbury about four kids who are trying to save the life of their friend. Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock on the original “Star Trek”) provides the voice of the mysterious resident of a haunted house, who explains the origins of Halloween and challenges them to think about how they can help their sick friend. The loyalty and courage of the kids is very touching.
Older children will appreciate The Witches, based on the popular book by Roald Dahl (the original with Anjelica Huston, not the remake with Anne Hathaway) and Hocus Pocusand the new sequel, with children and teens battling three witches played by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. And of course there is the deliciously ghoulish live-action double feature Addams Family and Addams Family Values based on the cartoons by Charles Addams. Episodes of the classic old television show are online and there are now two animated films for younger kids. The second is better than the first. The new Munsters from Rob Zombie is not good, but the original TV series episodes are still fun.
Beetlejuice is a classic, now even a Broadway musical. I’m fond of Beautiful Creatures, based on the best-selling YA novels about a witchy family in the American South.
The Nightmare Before Christmas has gorgeous music from Danny Elfman and stunningly imaginative visuals from Tim Burton and Henry Selick in a story about a Halloween character who wonders what it would be like to be part of a happy holiday like Christmas. Selick’s Coraline, based on the book by Neil Gaiman, is wildly imaginative andhis 2022 film, “Wendell & Wild,” was co-written with Jordan Peele, who lends his voice to the film with his longtime colleague Keegan-Michael Key.
On Labor Day pay tribute to workers, especially those who have worked for better conditions for everyone. These movies can help us understand their challenges and their contributions. This year in particular these stories have even more resonance as the very people who make the movies, the writers and performers are on strike to oppose shrinking writers rooms, wage theft, and the use of AI to undermine their current contracts.
Sally Field won an Oscar for “Norma Rae,” a real-life story about a courageous woman who helped mill workers form a union. It was inspired by Crystal Lee Sutton, a courageous advocate for workers’ rights.
Doris Day plays a union worker who falls for a new guy in management but doesn’t lose sight of the seven and a half cent raise the workers are bargaining for in the rollicking musical, “The Pajama Game.”
“Made in Dagenham” stars Sally Hawkins and and Rosamund Pike in the true and very heartwarming story of the British women who went on strike when they found that they were being paid far less by Ford Motor Company than the men.
I love this true story, about a group of LGBTQ activists who support the 1984 miners’ strike in Wales.
“10PM-Midnight: Working the Night Shift” is the story of the people who keep things going while the rest of us are asleep.
“Lifelines in the Lockdown” is a CBS News documentary from the early days of the pandemic about essential workers.
“Harlan County USA” is a documentary about a strike by mine workers.
“Bread and Roses” is based on the real-life story of a strike by undocumented janitorial workers, with Adrian Brody as their lawyer.
“Salt of the Earth” was inspired by an actual miners’ strike against the Empire Zinc Co. and the cast includes real-life miners who were involved in the strike
In “The Devil and Miss Jones,” a big boss goes undercover as an employee in his department store and learns some lessons about the workforce. The terrific cast includes Charles Coburn, Spring Byington, and Jean Arthur.
I’m excited at the possibility we might be getting a sequel to the classic “9 to 5,” starring the iconic Jane Fonda, Lili Tomlin, and Dolly Parton. Is there a better bad boss than Dabney Coleman? Or a better song than this film’s title sung by Parton?
Independence Day Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum star in one of the all-time great popcorn pleasures. Aliens attack the earth and it takes a quirky engineer, a plucky President, and a heroic military pilot to save the day. What does that have to do with the 4th of July? Listen to the President’s stirring pep talk.
The Patriot There are many films about the Civil War, but not many about the Revolutionary War. Mel Gibson stars in this uneven but stirring film about a farmer pulled into the rebellion.
1776 I love this film, based on the Broadway musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with almost all of the stars from the acclaimed stage production, including William Daniels as the “obnoxious and disliked” John Adams, Ken Howard as a dashing Thomas Jefferson, and Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin.
Often Overlooked Christmas Movies for Families to Enjoy
Posted on December 14, 2022 at 8:07 am
I love the Christmas classic movies and watch as many as I can every year. But there are many great Christmas films that don’t get mentioned as often and I like to remind families that these are worth making time for as well.
1. The Nativity Story This sincere and respectful story is a good way to remember that Christmas is about more than presents and parties. “Whale Rider’s” Keisha Castle-Hughes has a shy but dignified and resolute air and she glows believably as the very young woman who is selected as the mother of Jesus. And “Drive’s” Oliver Isaac effectively conveys tenderness, doubt, courage, and transcendence as Joseph.
2. A Christmas Memory Truman Capote’s bittersweet memory of his childhood Christmas making fruitcakes with his elderly cousin, the only relative who cared about him is beautifully filmed with the magnificent Geraldine Page and Capote himself reading the narration.
3. Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas The California Raisins guys put together this Christmas special, with the highlight the funniest-ever performance of “Carol of the Bells.”
4. Come to the Stable Loretta Young and Celeste Holm are French nuns trying to raise money to build a hospital. Their faith and goodness transforms those they meet.
5. Little Women “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents” is the first line of this classic novel based on the loving if sometimes tumultuous family of author Louisa May Alcott. The movie opens with an important Christmas lesson about the joy of giving.
6. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Based on the classic book, this stars Loretta Swit as the mother of six rambunctious kids who insist on playing roles in the church pageant.
7. This Christmas I love this movie about a family with five adult children who return home to celebrate Christmas with their mother and youngest brother. The outstanding cast includes Regina King, Idris Elba, Loretta Devine, and Chris Brown. Be sure to watch through the credits to see a great dance number.
8. Desk Set Before Google, companies had human beings to track down information. Katherine Hepburn plays the head of the all-female research department for a television network and Spencer Tracy is the engineer who is installing the company’s first computer, which takes up a whole wall and uses punch cards and vacuum tubes. Sparks fly — and not just in the equipment.
9. Die Hard Bruce Willis plays a cop visiting his estranged wife at her office Christmas party when the building is taken over by bad guys led by Alan Rickman in this action-movie classic, and yes, it is a Christmas movie.
10. The Polar Express Tom Hanks stars in this animated story based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg about a magical train ride to the North Pole.
11. Home Alone This comedy smash hit stars Macauley Culkin as a little boy who is accidentally left home when his family goes away for the holidays and has to take care of himself and guard the house from a couple of inept thieves. The slapstick is over the top but the message of Christmas is surprisingly touching.
12. Annie The story of the plucky orphan from the comic pages became one of the biggest Broadway musicals of all time and one of its highlights is Christmas with Daddy Warbucks.