Two things are certain about Thanksgiving: We'll all eat too much, and at some point we'll all find ourselves in front of a TV for an extended period of time. But what happens when you just can't take another second of millionaires giving each other concussions on national television, as exciting as that is? Here are some things you can watch when you finally give up on football and switch over to the Roku.
MST3K Turkey Day
A television tradition from the 1990s returns online as Shout! Factory is streaming classic episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) all day on YouTube. Joining Joel, Mike, Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow on the Satellite of Love is like watching crappy movies with the witty old friends you never had, but in a good way. If it's been a while since you visited the world of Torgo, Manos, Side Hackers, and Gamera, you'll be surprised at how well the humor holds up. And with a Joel Hodgson-helmed revival on the way, it's a good time to get back into the groove. Rowsdower save us!
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Halloween and Christmas get all of the movie love because of their flashy acoutrements, but there are a few films set during Thanksgiving. John Hughes ventured outside the high-school setting and into the hellish world of Thanksgiving travel with the fifth movie he directed in the 1980s. Steve Martin stars as a neurotic executive trying to make his way home to his family in Chicago while being beset by cancellations, overbooking, bad weather, and the attention of a shower curtain ring salesman played by John Candy. In a textbook case of slow escalation, the frustration builds as the two are forced to work together to get home. Martin and Candy are both at their best here, and you'll wish they had worked together more often as you dread the drive back home from grandma's.
Los Angeles Plays Itself
If you're completely sick of all things Thanksgiving and looking for something completely different, this legendary documentary by Thom Andersen will take you away to the West Coast. A film professor and Los Angelino, Andersen put together this retrospective of how his city has been portrayed (and, he would say, betrayed) by the film industry that put it on the map. Since it used clips from more than 200 movies, the 2003 film was long thought to be unreleasable, even though it was a huge hit when it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and has enjoyed a cult following from sold-out holiday screenings in L.A. But after 10 years of legal wrangling and a recent digital remastering, Los Angeles Plays Itself has finally found its way onto Netflix. It's a fascinating journey connecting images you know by heart to their real-life counterparts, revealing vanished landscapes, and making strange observations along the way, such as the way directors tend to give their villains architecturally interesting Mid-Century Modern homes. If any almost-three-hour personal essay about the filmmakers' hometown can be called an editing tour de force, this is it.