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Culture > Entertainment

5 Classic, Feel Good Family Films for Thanksgiving Break!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

Thanksgiving Break is soon approaching, and I don’t know about you, but I love to watch films during my breaks. I often find myself neglecting my work and turning on Netflix instead! 

Here are five family–friendly films to watch during your break, all of which focus on empowered female leads pursuing their dreams and desires. Please note that all of these films are rated PG–13.

Easy A (2010)

Starring Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, and Penn Badgley, this film centers around the struggles of being a high schooler. After Stone’s character, Olive, tells her best friend a little lie — that she lost her virginity — she gets labeled the school slut. The once invisible Olive becomes notorious to all, but for all the wrong reasons.

There are many interesting parallels to be seen between the characters in the film and characters from the novel The Scarlet Letter, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850. The screenplay of Easy A was partially based on the book. 

Legally Blonde (2001)

If you’ve never seen Legally Blonde, then you’re totally missing out! Sorority girl Elle Woods, played by Reese Witherspoon, has it all: she’s the president of her sorority, has a 4.0 gpa, and has the perfect boyfriend. The only thing she’s missing is a rock on her ring finger. 

When her “perfect” boyfriend breaks up with her because he thinks she’s too much of a “dumb blonde,” Elle decides to prove him wrong and win him back by following him to Harvard Law School. 

If the synopsis of the film hasn’t won you over, then maybe the award–winning cast will: accompanying Witherspoon are Jennifer Coolidge, Luke Wilson, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, and more! 

Pitch Perfect (2012)

Produced by Penn alumnus Elizabeth Banks, this film does an excellent job showing the trials and tribulations of a college a cappella group. After watching this film when I was younger, I knew that wherever I went to college, I had to be part of an a cappella group. Don’t worry, I accomplished that dream and more! 

The film focuses on college freshman Beca after she joins her school’s all–girls a cappella group, The Bellas. After a series of obstacles, the women change the way they approach their repertoire, add some more relevant music, and up their energy. The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition, and the rest is history. 

Pitch Perfect is enormously funny and featured some of the best a cappella groups of its time. This movie stars funny, talented actors, such as Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, and more!

Mamma Mia! (2008)

The cast of this film should be enough of a reason to watch it. Starring Hollywood behemoths Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, and more, one could not ask for a film with a better cast. 

If you don’t like musicals, this film might surprise you because it doesn’t feel like a traditional musical. The majority of the music in the film is by 70’s musical sensation ABBA.  

Mamma Mia! focuses on Donna Sheridan, played by Meryl Streep, and her daughter Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried, as they plan Sophie’s wedding with their friends. However, Sophie has other plans — she secretly invites the three men who she suspects could be her father, so one of them can escort her down the aisle. All that’s left is figuring out which one is actually her father…

13 Going on 30 (2004)

When Jenna Rink, played by Jennifer Garner, makes a wish during her 13th birthday party, she wakes up as a 30–year–old woman with a life, job, and — most importantly to Jenna — popularity. 

Even though Jenna is embodying her 30-year-old self, she still has the mind of a 13-year-old. While she’s delighted with her new freedom, she finds herself stumbling through adult life and wishing she could go back to her childhood and live it to the fullest.

All of these films are great to watch with your family, and are generally feel–good stories about women living their best lives. Check them out! 

Zoe is a Junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, she is majoring in Cinema and Media Studies as well as minoring in English and Russian Studies. She hails from London, England, and has loved being a part of HerCampus. She has a younger sister, and two Havanese dogs (both of whom she misses very much). When she is not studying, she is the Vice President of Penn Sirens (Penn’s Premier all-female acapella group), a performing member of the Musical Theatre and Light Opera Company ‘Penn Singers’, a mentor for ASAP (After School Arts Program), and was selected as a student liaison between the Annenberg center and the students involved in the arts on campus. Find her on Instagram @z.goldstein