Every family is unique, but there’s always that certain someone who’s a little off the rocker. This Thanksgiving prepare yourself for a visit from a drunk aunt, an abrasive uncle, or a criminal cousin that will eat your food and yell at your TV in an obnoxious manner. To help you cope with such stress, we’ve created a list of the Top Ten Dysfunctional Family Films, and after taking a glimpse at these characters’ disturbing situations, your crazy relatives will pale in comparison.
Check out the list below…
10. The Royal Tenenbaums
Royal and Etheline Tenenbaum are the separated parents of two sons and an adopted daughter. Richie is a tennis playing artist who has an affinity for hawks, Chas is a paranoid father of two who constantly thinks death is at his door, and Margot is a playwright with a missing finger, and a secret smoking habit. Royal was a crappy husband and an even worse father, so how does he make it up to his family? He lies about having cancer, takes his grandchildren to dogfights, and throws racial slurs at his exes African-American boyfriend.
9. The House of Yes
The House of Yes centers on Marty and his twin sister Jackie-O, who has an unhealthy obsession with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The woman is mentally ill and sheltered from the rest of the world by her domineering mother, so when Marty brings his new girlfriend over for Thanksgiving break, she’s pissed! Jackie-O convinces Marty to engage in one of their childhood “role playing” games with her, which eventually leads to them sleeping together. This is the perfect example of family getting too close during the holidays.
8. Ordinary People
A strikingly young Timothy Hutton plays Conrad, the son of Calvin and Beth Jarrett, two of the most disconnected parents you’ll ever see. Conrad was involved in an accident which caused his brother’s death leaving him with various mental disorders stemming from the event. Both parents clearly loved their other son more and in a way resent Conrad for still being alive. Instead of properly grieving, they shut off their emotions and act as if everything is normal. The biggest theme in this film is denial, denial, and more denial.
7. The Family Stone
The free-spirited Everett Stone decides to introduce his uptight girlfriend, Meredith to his family over the holidays. His siblings include a stoner filmmaker named Ben, a bitchy school teacher named Amy, the very pregnant Susannah, and Thad who’s gay, deaf, and contemplating adoption with his African-American boyfriend, Patrick. Their father Kelly is an architect, while their mother Sybil is a hippie suffering from a fatal disease. That’s too damn much to take in for a first home visit, don’t you think?
6. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
Gilbert literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders as the caretaker and bread winner for his family. His mother is morbidly obese and can barely move, and his younger brother Arnie is mentally handicapped and prone to violent outbursts. Gilbert has his hands full with Arnie because he constantly needs attention, which conflicts with his attempts to have a normal social life. Gilbert’s pretty much a prisoner of a crappy circumstance, but at least he has Johnny Depp‘s good looks.
5. The Ice Storm
Two family’s intertwine with each other in more ways than one in 1973, when a huge ice storm is about to hit. The Hood family includes husband and wife Ben and Elena and their teenage children, Paul and Wendy. The Carver’s are Jim and Janey and their son’s Mikey and Sandy. Ben and Janey are having an affair, Elena’s a shoplifter, Wendy’s into sex games, Paul’s a druggie, and Sandy’s obsessed with violence. Top that with several rounds of sharp ice, and you’ve got yourself an uncomfortable family film.
4. East of Eden
In this contemporary adaptation of Cane and Abel, successful farmer Adam Trask and his two sons Caleb (Cal) and Aron are like oil and water. Aron is the apple of his father’s eye, while Caleb is the black sheep constantly fighting for his affection. Adam is a deeply religious man and a single parent, who raised the boys after the “death” of their mother. In reality, their mother’s not only alive and well, but the owner of the largest whore house in town! She may have died in Adam’s eyes, but she’s still going strong in everyone elses.
3. Julien Donkey-Boy
The schizophrenic Julien lives with his abusive father, brother and sister in a very unhealthy family setting. His German father is relentless towards him and his siblings, and is oddly enough played by director Werner Herzog. Julien has fake phone conversations with is mother who’s been dead for years, while his brother trains to become a wrestler, and his sister sits through an abnormal pregnancy. By abnormal, I mean she’s pregnant with Julien’s baby, which is just wrong!
2. Spanking the Monkey
Raymond is a young man who’s forced to stay home for the summer to care for his mother, who’s suffered a broken leg. His father’s out of town on business, which leaves him as the man of the house. He waits on his mother hand and foot, which causes a few intimate moments that would make any sane person want to vomit. After dealing with the rejection of a neighborhood girl, and his lack of options, he gets involved in a sexual relationship with his own mother. This movie brings a new meaning to the title, “mama’s boy.”
On the outside, this film looks like an old school detective story about kidnapping, adultery, and politics, but at the center of it there’s an abomination brewing. Faye Dunaway and John Huston’s characters are father and daughter, but it’s later revealed that they also share a child together. Therefore, Huston’s Noah Cross is a murderer, rapist, money launderer, AND a parent. He’s the combination of everything you want to stay away from. Aren’t you happy you’re not related to that guy?
What do you think of our Top Ten Dysfunctional Family Films?