June 14, 2024

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The best new movies to watch with the family this Thanksgiving weekend

Holiday gatherings are a time for families to get together and celebrate (or bicker, depending on your preferred style of gathering).

There’s great food and great company (hopefully), so why not great movies as well? With many families around the country gathering this weekend, the team at Polygon figured we’d pick out some fun new movies that everyone in the family can enjoy.

From kids’ movies even parents can enjoy to dad movies even kids can enjoy (and a little something in between), here are some stellar new movies that you can safely put on for the whole crew this weekend. And if you’re looking for some more new options, we’ve got them: We have a longer list of the best movies of 2022, or a selection of five movies on Netflix perfect for a chilly November night.


Catherine Called Birdy

A girl in a dark bedroom clutches a bird in her hands and smiles at the camera.

Image: Alex Bailey/Prime Video

Genre: Comedy
Run time: 1h 48m
Director: Lena Dunham
Cast: Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott, Billie Piper

Lena Dunham’s adaptation of the middle-grade medieval diary manages to capture the main heroine’s distinct, spunky voice, while translating the story appropriately for screen. Teenage Catherine (Bella Ramsey) just wants to run around with the goat boys and play in the mud, but as the daughter of the village’s lord, she’s expected to marry into a wealthy family. She’s rebellious, but not in a grating, too-modern way, and Ramsey’s performance is delightful. The movie does a stellar job of fleshing out Catherine’s parents, particularly her father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott), turning him from a one-note obstacle into a character with depth. —Petrana Radulovic

Catherine Called Birdy is available to stream on Prime Video.

Confess, Fletch

Jon Hamm as Fletch lounges bare-chested in a hammock in Confess, Fletch

Photo: Robert Clark/Miramax

Genre: Mystery comedy
Run time: 1h 39m
Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Jon Hamm, Lorenza Izzo, Marcia Gay Harden

In the 1980s, Universal Pictures produced two movies based on Gregory Mcdonald’s mystery comedy novels about journalist I.M. Fletcher. The movies starred Chevy Chase and were a bit of a cult hit — there’s a decent chance someone at your gathering will remember them fondly.

Suddenly, decades later, a reboot has arrived with Jon Hamm. And guess what: It’s really funny! Hamm is a pitch-perfect fit for the role, with his oft-underutilized comedic chops shining as Fletch. Confess, Fletch is a breezy comedy with mystery elements that plays off nostalgia (but not too much), with laughs for everyone to enjoy. And when you’re done, you can have even more fun by repeating how Marcia Gay Harden pronounces “Fletch” in this movie to each other for the rest of this weekend. —Pete Volk

Confess, Fletch is available to watch on Showtime, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple, and Google Play.


Morbius feeling something deep

Image: Sony Pictures

Genre: Superhero/meme
Run time: 1h 44m
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona

There are few better holiday traditions than getting together with your loved ones and just having a great laugh. It doesn’t matter much whether the thing you’re laughing at was intended for that purpose; what matters is that you’re enjoying the experience together.

With that in mind, can I interest you in some Morbius?

Morbius, a sordid tale about a Dr. Mr. Michael Morbius, a man who is a doctor and is also a vampire, is not good or fun in any way. But it can be good or fun if you watch it together. Treasure Matt Smith’s dancing! Recoil at Jared Leto’s vampiric facial hair! Go “Hey, it’s that girl from Andor” when you see Adria Arjona! It’s fun* for the whole family. —PV

*results may vary

Morbius is available to watch on Netflix, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple, and Google Play.


Jason Momoa poses wildly as Flip, and Marlow Barkley grins as Nemo in Slumberland.

Image: Netflix

Genre: Fantasy
Run time: 1h 57m
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Jason Momoa, Marlow Barkley, Kyle Chandler

Slumberland is one of this year’s under-the-radar gems — an adaptation of the hugely inspiring, often jerkily adapted 1905 newspaper strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. Hunger Games director Francis Lawrence builds this Netflix original around joyful performances from child actress Marlow Barkley (Single Parents), Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), and Jason Momoa, who all but steals scenes as Flip, a hedonistic outlaw who adventures through humanity’s dreams. The movie leans away from the slapstick, stunt voice acting, and sardonic pop culture references that mark modern family blockbusters and into an older mode, appealing from ages 1 to 92 by telling a simple story with a lot of creativity and heart. —Susana Polo

Slumberland is available to watch on Netflix.

The Adam Project

Zoe Saldana and Ryan Reynolds stand side by side outdoors in The Adam Project, with Zoe pointing a giant-ass glowing futuristic gun at the camera

Photo: Doane Gregory/Netflix

Genre: Sci-fi/action comedy
Run time: 1h 46m
Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Mark Ruffalo

Certified studmuffin Ryan Reynolds (not to be confused with American heartthrob Ryan Gosling, which is something I definitely don’t do all the time) and Free Guy director Shawn Levy team up once again, this time for a Spielbergian sci-fi action comedy about a bad boy fighter pilot from the dystopian year 2050 who steals a time jet to jump back to 2018 to save his wife (Zoe Saldaña). Accidentally crash-landing in 2022, he meets his younger self (Scobell), and together, the two embark on an impromptu time-hopping adventure to reconcile the past and save the future. Though far from the most original of premises, The Adam Project is a crowd-pleasing family film that has everything one could ask for — action, comedy, suspense, and some genuinely charismatic lead performances. —Toussaint Egan

The Adam Project is available to watch on Netflix.

Top Gun: Maverick

Tom Cruise as Maverick in the cockpit of a fighter jet in Top Gun: Maverick

Image: Paramount Pictures

Genre: Action
Run time: 2h 11m
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Glen Powell

Just based on sheer numbers, there’s a really good chance that everyone in your family, in your friend group, and you’ve ever met within the bounds of the continental United States has already seen Top Gun: Maverick at least twice. But that’s not enough yet! In fact, chances are during your Thanksgiving gathering it will have been at least five months since the last time someone at the table has seen Top Gun: Maverick, which means it’s high time for everyone to watch it again.

On the off chance you have not seen Top Gun: Maverick, it returns to the story of ace pilot and general smartass/hotshot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he returns to fighter jet school to train the best and brightest of the U.S. Navy’s next generation. It’s at once an excellent and exciting action movie, a great passing-of-the-torch story, and just tremendously entertaining in the way all great blockbuster movies should be. And if someone hasn’t seen the original, this one will catch you up enough that you don’t have to, or you can have grandma do a dramatic reading of the 1986 movie’s Wikipedia page.

Tom Cruise saved movie theaters, and the least you can do to thank him is watch his airplane movie a third time at home, just to remind yourself of how great those theaters really were. —Austen Goslin

Top Gun: Maverick is available for digital rental or purchase via Amazon, Apple, and Google Play.

Turning Red

mei and her friends cheering on priya at a party. mei is in red panda form

Image: Pixar

Genre: Comedy
Run time: 1h 40m
Director: Domee Shi
Cast: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Jordan Fisher

Turning Red marks a new era for Pixar, one that elevates different voices from the old Pixar lineup. In her feature debut, director Domee Shi turns a very specific story about a teenage girl growing up in the early 2000s in Toronto and her relationship with her mother into something universal. With the fluffy red panda metaphor at its center, Turning Red is an evocative coming-of-age story about mothers and daughters and finding one’s self in an ever-changing world. The animation is also bold and bright, leaning more on stylized movements and soft pastel backgrounds than the usual Pixar photorealism. It’s the latest installment in this exciting new era, and definitely one worth catching up with. —PR

Turning Red is available to stream on Disney Plus, or for digital rental or purchase via Amazon.