The 4th of July is the celebration of the birth of our nation and on Memorial Day we remember those fallen in war. Halloween and Christmas we turn over to children and on Valentine’s Day we all surrender to love.
Of all holidays Thanksgiving is the one at which we celebrate family, or at least try to gather relatives together and pretend we all get along.
There are many movies that are associated with certain times of the year. For Valentine’s Day most any Romantic Comedy will do. For the 4th of July I love to watch Jaws (1975). Groundhog Day of course has – Groundhog Day (1993).
And Christmas has dozens if not hundreds of movies to choose from.
But when it comes to the American Thanksgiving Holiday what is there to choose from except Plains, Trains and Automobiles (1987) or maybe Home for the Holidays (1995).
Those two films are fine for viewing over the holiday weekend but I think I have a good suggestion for you, and I expect you haven’t seen this film.
What’s Cooking? (2000) is a small but delightful film. It made less than 2 million dollars in worldwide box office so it’s a good bet you didn’t see it in a theater.
What’s Cooking? takes place on Thanksgiving Day as four families prepare their holiday feasts mixing in cultural traditions.
The film is similar to a couple of other recent movies built around food. 2014’s The Hundred Foot Journey is a really nice story about an immigrant family opening a restaurant in France. And there’s Chef, also from 2014, one of my favorites movies that year.
Like those films, What’s Cooking? takes delight (and of course has fun) in the preparation of food.
But more than the food, the heart of the movie revolves around family. Four families to be specific – Vietnamese, African American, Latino, and Jewish. What’s Cooking? has a large cast that includes Mercedes Ruehl, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, Joan Chen, Kyra Sedgwick, Julianna Margulies and Estelle Harris. There are more, but with the large cast, director Gurinder Charha is able to tell several stories while not losing the viewer. The narratives of the different families and their unique holiday preparations and traditions are contrasted and wonderfully woven into one film.
Now a bit of a warning – This movie is about family, but I would suggest caution about family viewing. What’s Cooking? is rated PG-13 for a reason. Mature themes and language, and at one point a child in peril are all very much a part of the story. This is a drama, with a lot of comedy. And although there aren’t all that many “Thanksgiving” movies around, What’s Cooking? is a sure winner.
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“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”
– Desmond Tutu