Dysfunctional families. We all have them, or at least we think we do! However, we’re willing to place a sizeable bet that having a read through our look at just ten of the most dysfunctional families on film will leave you re-evaluating just how bad yours really is. In fact, it might just change your perspective altogether!
Whether it’s a completely messed up family or just one or two members who cause chaos for everyone else, watching a movie about these types of dysfunctional families can be a bit like watching a car crash…you want to look away, but can’t! In fact, we’d go as far to say that some are as bad as the worst horror movies.
Below are just ten of our favourites. Have we missed any of your favourites? Let us know…
10. Meet The Parents
Meet the Parents is the kind of movie which will keep anyone who is about to meet their in-laws up at night. In his attempts to impressive his girlfriend’s father (Jack, played brilliantly here by Robert De Niro), Greg Focker is forced into an impromptu lie detector test, destroys an urn that contains the ashes of Jack’s mother, breaks his future sister-in-law’s nose days before her wedding, floods the garden with sewage, sets a wedding altar on fire and spray paints a cat after losing the original.
Despite his many mishaps, you can’t help but feel for Greg as he’s forced to contemplate marrying into one very weird and dysfunctional family…
9. Star Wars
You may be surprised to see Star Wars here, but how else would you describe the Skywalker clan if not as one of cinema’s most dysfunctional families?
While the relationship between Anakin and Padme was a little odd, how about the romantic undertones between their two children who thankfully realised they were brother and sister before it was too late?
Of course, it has to be the father/son dynamic between Luke and Darth Vader which really earns these movies a place here, especially when it comes to making the decision to reveal you’re someone’s father after cutting their hand off. Oh, and all those attempts to turn them evil!
8. Step Brothers
This has to be the nightmare of any parent! In Step-Brothers, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly starred as two immature middle-aged men still living at home, making the lives of their parents a living hell when they decide to get married and are forced to drag their respective idiotic children along with them. Though they don’t go out of their way to sabotage this relationship, that doesn’t stop them dressing up as a Nazi and a Klansman to stop their parents selling the family home!
As hilarious as their antics are for the viewer, you have to feel for the couple, and being one of the parents in this family would truly be a living hell.
7. We Need to Talk About Kevin
John C. Reilly would star as a member of another of cinema’s most dysfunctional families in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and if you thought Step-Brothers was enough to put you off becoming a parent, then this movie will make you want to head straight to your local monastery or nunnery.
Exploring the unusual and hate filled relationship between mother and son, We Need to Talk About Kevin uses flashbacks to explore how a young man ultimately ended up going a murderous rampage in his school. Do you blame the mother for not bonding with her child? The witless father for not taking her seriously? The psychopathic child? This one will make you think, and the nature vs. nurture argument has never been worth talking about more than here.
6. The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson’s art house favourite features a privileged middle-class family made up of failed child geniuses, a bizarre adopted brother/sister love story where the latter harbours an unhealthy obsession for her sibling and a father who pretends to have cancer just so he can get a visit from his kids. And yes, this barely scratches the surface of this messed up clan…
As joyous as it is to watch this fantastic film about a terrible family, you can never shake the feeling of how hellish it would be to be a part of it. Thankfully, there is at least a glimpse of hope at the end of the film that this lot can get back on the straight and narrow…
5. Fish Tank
Fish Tank explores an interesting part of modern Britain as we’re introduced to Mia Williams, a 15-year-old who lives on an London council estate with her single mother Joanne. The relationship between mother and daughter is fraught with tension, something that’s evident when a man enters the scene and Joanne’s disdain for Mia becomes obvious.
Her jealously shines through when he pays the youngster any sort of attention, but perhaps for good reason, especially as the relationship between him and Mia soon takes an unhealthy turn. The reveal that he has his own family only highlights how damaged everyone here is.
4. Blue Valentine
Despite arguably being more about a relationship than a family (though that theme plays a huge role in the final stretch of a movie after the couple pictured above have a child together), this superb effort from Derek Cianfrance fascinatingly explores the disintegration of a marriage.
It’s heartbreaking to see how two people so in love could end up hating each other, and while Cindy and Dean – incredible performances from Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling – struggle to make a go for it, the fact that this family seemingly lies broken by the time the credits roll shows just how harmful dysfunctional relationships can be to them.
3. The Godfather
Don Corleone values family above all else, but it’s fair to say that he seems to be something of a misguided patriarch. After all, how else would you describe someone who casually goes about arranging a murder on the day of their daughter’s wedding?!
They may on the surface be an attractive and famous family, but the Corleones teach us that it’s never a good idea to go into business with your loved ones, and hey, you’re probably better off not being too close to them either! Take solace in the fact that if you ever mess up, chances are your brother won’t have you whacked and don’t even get us started on how ruthless his son is…
2. American Beauty
The dysfunctional families in American beauty have been discussed in great detail over the years, and it’s no surprise when you take a close look at the far from perfect Burnham family and the extremely weird Fitts clan. Military man Colonel Fitts is harbouring secret homosexual urges, something which perhaps explains why the Nazi crockery collecting patriarch is so abusive and borderline unstable.
The fact that his stoner son keeps a video record of just how messed up this family is means that years from now they’ll be able to come together to relive all their horrible memories together, so that’s something we suppose. Maybe not!
1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Dysfunctional? That word really doesn’t do the Sawyers justice! It’s hard to imagine a family closer than this revolting clan of cackling hicks; they do everything together…including killing and eating unsuspecting youngsters. Who knows, perhaps cannibalistic killing sprees somehow bring families closer together? Have we all been doing something wrong?
The short answer is no, especially when you take a look at Leatherface’s screwed up family dynamic! While they may have a good time at family gatherings, it sure isn’t normal if one of your guests is tied to a chair made of human remains and screaming out for help…