Holiday movies return with Hallmark’s ‘Family Thanksgiving’

“FAMILY THANKSGIVING” on the Hallmark Channel includes an elementary-school pagent as a key scene.DAPHNE ZUNIGA in “A Family Thanksgiving” debuting on the Hallmark Channel.Anyone who doubts that “It’s A Wonderful Life” is America’s favorite holiday movie only needs to tune in the Hallmark Channel’s debut of “A Family Thanksgiving” at 9 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. Central) on Saturday, November 6. The original “Wonderful Life” is such a cultural landmark that it has spawned all sorts of variations, including a bad-guy-glimpses-the-good inversion of the original plot. This new Hallmark made-for-TV movie is a variation on “The Family Man,” which stars Nicolas Cage as a Scrooge-like executive whose “Wonderful Life” nightmare shows the kind of terrific life he might have had, if only …

In “A Family Thanksgiving,” Daphne Zuniga stars as a Scrooge-like executive whose “Wonderful Life” nightmare transforms her into a soccer Mom in a Norman Rockwell town. Just like Nicolas Cage in “Family Man,” Zuniga hates this warm-hearted new life before finally coming to see its priceless value. Faye Dunaway flamboyantly plays the angelic character in this new production. Like Cage in “Family Man,” Zuniga discovers that she can blend her professional talents and family relationships to produce a truly wonderful life. Then, of course, she realizes this idyllic vision is just a dream. If only …

What’s your favorite holiday movie?

Obviously, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and all the countless variations on the theme, ranks very high as a holiday favorite. One truly wonderful aspect of this film, which the new Hallmark production also celebrates, is the religiously neutral nature of this story. This is a film about thankfulness for life, for relationships and for all the pleasure that community can bring. Although “Wonderful Life” does end around a Christmas tree, we know Jewish readers who love that film’s uplifting message.

There’s nothing specific to any one religious tradition in the new Hallmark production. Even Thanksgiving dinner opens with a “toast” rather than a prayer. The “toast” winds up being mighty close to a prayer of thankfulness, but it’s still portrayed as a “toast.” Now, considering that most of our readers have deep spiritual lives, you may resist the idea of neutralizing religious references in a holiday film. But, these days, we need all the affirmation of our unity we can get, hmmm?

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIE, PLEASE? Email us at [email protected] or add a Comment below—or contact us through any of the other links at the end of this story.

More Reasons to be Thankful for Diversity This Year

The WISDOM women’s network, a diverse organization of women from many different religious faiths, is devoting several weeks of the “Friendship and Faith” website to affirmations of diversity. Each week, we’re adding to this collection of statements about why we’re thankful for diversity. Check out the website and add your own Thanksgiving wishes there.

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