11 movies for sneaking social messages to your family this Thanksgiving

Let these 11 crowd-pleasing films serve as Trojan Turkeys for progressive messages over the holiday.

11 movies for sneaking social messages to your family this Thanksgiving

The biggest lie foisted upon us by untold reels of cinema is that not only do comeuppances usually come, they often arrive in a timely manner. The high-seas pirate is keelhauled, the stock market scoundrel financially ruined, the duplicitous Romeo unceremoniously dumped. This is what pop culture has promised us, along with hoverboards.


As it turns out, a lifetime of moviegoing has actually left us unprepared for a world where no fallout has yet befallen Donald Trump on this, the third Thanksgiving since the 2016 election.

For the third year in a row, many of us who are barely holding it together through each day’s unique yet familiar tortures must trudge home to parents with whom we fundamentally disagree on everything. For the third year in a row, the tension between liberal and conservative family members will be potent enough to marinate the turkey in an extra coat of ennui. But for anyone dreading having to rehash the same old dinner table arguments again, like fourth-day leftovers, I offer a simple solution: Don’t make your political and social points at the dinner table. Make them in your Netflix queue.

That’s right, movies may have damaged us with unrealistic expectations for satisfying conclusions, but they may just be our Thanksgiving salvation. Below you will find 11 crowd-pleasing films to watch over Thanksgiving that will stealthily deliver social messages to your Trump-loving family, like so many Trojan Turkeys. Not be confused with regular old (lower case) turkeys (aka terrible movies), these films will have the whole room subconsciously gobbling down anti-MAGA ideology, and the only arguments you’ll have will be over whether it’s too soon for round two of dessert.

Black Panther

On the surface: An origin story-free Marvel franchise-starter with an on-fire director (Creed’s Ryan Coogler), dazzling action scenes, and a fully realized depiction of high-tech utopia Wakanda.

The message: Not all African countries are “shithole countries”; build bridges, not walls.

A Quiet Place

On the surface: A left-field horror-thriller hit from writer/director/star John Krasinski about a family trying to evade monsters who kill anything that makes a sound.


The message: In times of oppression, you have to fight for the ability to use your voice, i.e., voter suppression, gerrymandering, and journalist-bashing suck.

The Other Guys

On the surface: A raucous Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg comedy about the riffraff of the police force attempting to fill the shoes of two superstar cops.

The message: A searing indictment of white collar crime on Wall Street. (Seriously.)


On the surface: Steven Soderbergh’s sobering epic about a worldwide health epidemic.

The message: Deregulation isn’t inherently a good thing–like, say for instance, in terms of requiring food service workers to wash their hands.

The Big Sick

On the surface: Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s sharp, sweet romantic comedy about a couple of young lovers who meet extremely cute and then break up just as one of them (Zoe Kazan) goes into a coma.


The message: Before you go into a coma in the United States, it’s important to make sure you have healthcare; otherwise, your friends will have to make a GoFundMe in your honor to ensure you don’t die.


On the surface: A kickass action flick about a murdered police officer, resurrected through technology, seeking revenge on the thugs who killed him.

The message: Corporations and the police state should have nothing to do with each other; down with private prisons!

The Lego Movie

On the surface: A rip-roaring animated adventure in which Chris Pratt’s hapless hero becomes convinced he’s a Matrix-ian “The One”-type (mini)figure.

The message: Tune out the chorus suggesting “Everything is awesome” when it’s clearly not. Think for yourself.


On the surface: Lonely, Earthbound robot Wall-e falls in love with fellow mechanized being EVE and follows her to the spaceship containing Earth’s former inhabitants.


The message: Rapidly consuming all the world’s resources will have consequences.


On the surface: In a post-apocalyptic near-future, Earth’s survivors live on a gigantic train with a perpetual-motion engine, sorted into class distinctions that remain across generations.

The message: It may be time to consider that capitalism is the real problem.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

On the surface: A fun, animated romp in which Manny (Ray Romano) and the gang set out to find safe haven from their swiftly melting glacial enclosure.

The message: Global warming is the single biggest threat we are currently facing.

Dinesh D’Souza’s Death of a Nation

On the surface: Okay, lumping this one in with the other crowdpleasers is a stretch. And we can’t actually recommend that anyone watch this trash. The only crowds pleased by D’Souza’s hamfisted, fact-averse propaganda are matinee-trotting MAGA granddads. It’s a documentar-ish about why Donald Trump is basically Lincoln.


The message: It’s more of a meta-message here: haphazardly pardoning ass-kissing felons like D’Souza is bad for society.