What to stream: Thanksgiving edition

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Nov. 28 2013 12:00 p.m. MST

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in "Skyfall."

Francois Duhamel

Enlarge photo»

Let’s face it — unlike the two holidays it’s sandwiched between, Thanksgiving isn’t exactly blessed with an abundance of great movies about it. But there are still plenty of options to watch on the major streaming services that touch on much of what makes the holiday memorable: food, family, the first settlers and other Thanksgiving subjects.

If none of the Thanksgiving-themed picks appeal, then give thanks for modern conveniences by popping some popcorn and checking out some of the new movies and TV shows available to stream this month.

Thanksgiving-related movies

“Pocahontas” — This 1995 animated musical came at the tail end of the so-called “Disney renaissance.” It’s not exactly historically accurate in its depiction of the clash between English colonists and Powhatan tribesmen in 17th-century Virginia, but if you take it with a large, tree-size grain of salt, it’s a great movie to watch with kids. “Pocahontas II: Journey to the New World” is also available to stream on Netflix.

Rating: G

Available on: Netflix Instant

“National Geographic: Jamestown” — A look at the historical setting of the Pocahontas story and the hardships endured by early settlers. Although the production value leaves something to be desired, it’s a valuable reminder of why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place. Clocking in at under an hour, it’s also a good double-feature to pair with the Disney “Pocahontas.”

Rating: TV-PG

Available on: Netflix Instant

“Dutch” — Ed O’Neill of "Modern Family" stars as a blue-collar guy from Chicago escorting his girlfriend’s snobby prep school son home for the holidays. Needless to say, hijinks ensue, but not without some genuinely touching moments along the way. Written by John Hughes (of “Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles” fame). It should be noted that there are a few instances of sexual humor that might be considered inappropriate for younger viewers.

Rating: PG-13

Available on: Netflix Instant, Amazon Prime Instant

“Babette’s Feast” — Set in a remote village in 19th-century Denmark, “Babette Feast” is a classic of food cinema. The titular meal isn’t a Thanksgiving dinner — rather, it’s a lavish, multi-course showcase of haute cuisine prepared in commemoration of the 100th birthday of the village’s late pastor — but viewers would be hard-pressed to find a movie that better captures the way a meal (like Thanksgiving) is able to bring people together, and not just physically. Be prepared to drool.

Rating: G

Available on: Hulu Plus

“Happy” — There’s nothing explicitly Thanksgiving-related in this 2011 documentary, which takes a look at stories from around the world to try to discover what it is that makes people happy. However, it perfectly fits the core theme of giving thanks. A film that’s both uplifting and educational.

Rating: Not rated

Available on: Netflix Instant, Hulu Plus

New to stream

“Skyfall” — Along with Daniel Craig, who appears in his third outing as Bond, James Bond, Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins (who earned an Oscar nomination for his work here) help redefine the British double-0 agent for the 21st century. “Skyfall” takes Bond even farther down the pathway of “dark and gritty,” so don’t go in expecting invisible cars and deadly bowler hats. Due to the amount of realistic violence and some sexuality (although less than many Bond films), it’s probably not one for kids.

Rating: PG-13

Available on: Netflix Instant, Amazon Prime Instant

“Say Anything” — Cameron Crowe’s 1989 rom-com starring John Cusack (in one of his best roles) as goofy underachiever Lloyd Dobler and Ione Skye as the high school valedictorian he falls in love with is a bona fide classic. Although the content is fairly tame (minus one instance of the “R-rated” curse word), it does deal with teenage relationships in a way that's not appropriate for younger audiences.

Rating: PG-13

Available on: Netflix Instant

“Galaxy Quest” — It’s basically “The Three Amigos” meets Captain Kirk-era “Star Trek,” but you don’t have to be a sci-fi junkie to get most of the references in this comedy starring Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear), Sigourney Weaver (“Avatar”) and Alan Rickman (Professor Snape from the Harry Potter movies). Although not a huge success when it was originally released back in 1999, “Galaxy Quest” has gone on to develop a sizable cult following. A few bits of humor might seem more at home in a PG-13 movie, but overall it’s pretty family friendly.

Rating: PG

Available on: Netflix Instant, Amazon Prime Instant

“The Bletchley Circle” — The first three-part season of this British series just hit Netfllix Instant, and for fans of period dramas, brainy procedural shows or just quality TV, it’s a must-watch. Four women initially brought together as code-breakers at Bletchley Park during World War II are reunited years later when one of them begins using her talent for patterns to track a serial killer. The beautifully produced show captures 1950s London in fascinating, painstaking detail. Although generally very low key, the realism makes some of the implied violence harder to stomach than other shows on TV.

Rating: TV-14

Available on: Netflix Instant

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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