Dutch Is Thanksgiving’s Unsung Gem

By Olivia Armstrong


The holidays are stressful, even for kids. John Hughes, the young-at-heart writer and director responsible for the Brat Pack movies of the ‘80s, also loved to toy with narratives centered around youngsters wise beyond their years, ones who thrived without adults. (Think: Home Alone, Leave It to Beaver.) In 1991 Hughes gave us Dutch, starring Ethan Embry as the snot-nosed Doyle, and Ed O'Neill as Dutch Dooley, the man dating Doyle’s mother.

In an effort to get to know young Doyle, Dutch volunteers to pick him up from prep school and bring him home for Thanksgiving dinner. Little does blue-collar Dutch know, Doyle — misunderstood by his mother Natalie (JoBeth Williams) and spoiled by her wealthy ex-husband Reed (Christopher McDonald) — isn’t exactly the nicest kid. Devious and disrespectful, Doyle greets Dutch by shooting him with a BB gun, and refuses to accompany him back to his mother’s house, as he blames her for his parents’ divorce. After Dutch drags Doyle to his car (hogties and a hockey stick may or may not have something to do with it), the two are bound for Thanksgiving dinner — when a series of comically unfortunate events unfold. As getting home becomes increasingly complicated for these two at-odds strangers, Doyle begins to ease up on old Dutch, realizing they may have more in common than they think.

Dutch’s distinct, holiday vibe means it’s more calendar-specific than John Hughes classics like The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles. But it is arguably perfect for Thanksgiving. Delightfully dated (No cell phones? But how will they ever get home?!) with a humourous core that stands the test of time. Dutch is an easy, heartfelt pick if you want to keep the whole house entertained after turkey dinner.