Movie families tend to come in two varieties… the perfect Brady Bunch type or the completely off-kilter type. I have to admit that I much prefer the more unusual on-screen family, because let’s face it no one really has the perfect family. So with that in mind these are my top 10 dysfunctional movie families.
Films: The Addams Family (1991), The Addams Family Values (1993)
Starring: Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci
Key dysfunctions: Where to start? This eccentric family glories in the macabre and has more than a few odd members.
Most entertaining member: Cousin It, who is covered from head to toe in long hair.
“Morticia: Have you spoken to her parents?
Susan Firkins, Wednesday’s Teacher: Well, Wednesday brought in this picture: Calpurnia Addams.
Morticia: Wednesday’s great-aunt Calpurnia. She was burned as a witch in 1706. They said she danced naked in the town square and enslaved the minister.
Susan Firkins, Wednesday’s Teacher: Really?
Morticia: Oh, yes. But don’t worry. We’ve told Wednesday college first. ”
Film: Sixteen Candles (1984)
Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Justin Henry
Key dysfunctions: The whole family forgets poor Sam’s sixteenth birthday. They are also utterly inappropriate at every junction with Sam’s grandparents obsessed with her boobs and her sister hopped up on muscle relaxants at her own wedding.
Most interesting member: Long Duk Dong, the family’s exchange student
Grandma Helen: Oh Sam, let me look at you. Fred, she’s gotten her boobies.
Grandpa Fred: [chuckles] I better go get my magnifying glass.
Grandma Helen: Oh, and they are so Perky.
Grandma Helen: [reaches to cup them]
Samantha: [cut to Sam’s bedroom] I can’t believe my Grandmother actually felt me up.
Film: Meet the Fockers (2004)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbara Streisand, Dustin Hoffman
Key dysfunctions: The Fockers are overly affectionate, overly familiar and clearly completely incapable of considering anyone else’s perceptions after naming their son Gaylord.
Most interesting member: For me it has to be patriarch, Bernie , because he reminds me so much of my own dad. He even looks like Dustin Hoffman.
“[the Fockers’ outgoing message]
Bernie Focker: Hello, you’ve reached the Fockers. We’re not around, so leave us a message. Goodbye. Roz, how the hell do you shut this thing off?
Roz Focker: I have no idea. Just press a button.
Bernie Focker: All right, I’m pretty sure it’s off. Honey, you want a chimichanga?
Roz Focker: I thought they give you gas.
Bernie Focker: A little bit, but it’s worth it.
Roz Focker: Yeah, worth it for you, but I’m the one that gets the fumes.
Bernie Focker: Honey, I’m in the mood for a chimichanga!
Roz Focker: So make a chimichang…
Film: Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Starring: Toni Colette, Steve Carrell, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin
Key dysfunctions: The grandad is obsessed with drugs and porn, the teenage son never speaks, the uncle is suicidal and dad is a failed motivational speaker… what could go wrong?
Most interesting member: It has to be grandad, Edwin, who teaches seven year-old Olive a strip tease for her “talent” in a pageant.
“Sheryl: You know, like it or not, we’re still your family, for better or worse…
Dwayne: No, you’re *not* my family! I don’t wanna *be* your family! I hate you fucking people! Divorce? Bankrupt? Suicide? You’re fucking losers, you’re losers! No, please just leave me here, Mom. Please, please, please. Please… just leave me here.”
Film: Donnie Darko (2001)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone
Key dysfunctions: This whole family is bent around son, Donnie’s mental illness and bizarre behaviour, pushing them all out of alignment
“Donnie: You’re such a fuck-ass!
Rose Darko: Please.
Elizabeth: What? Did you just call me a “fuck-ass”?
Rose Darko: Elizabeth, that’s enough.
Elizabeth: You can go suck a fuck.
Donnie: Oh, please, tell me, Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a fuck?
Elizabeth: You want me to tell you?
Donnie: Please, tell me.
Rose Darko: We will not have this at the dinner table.
Donnie: [Mouthing] I’m all ears! “
Film: Buffalo 66 (1998)
Starring: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Anjelica Huston
Key dysfunctions: Everyone in this family seems to be living in a weird state of denial where they talk to each other but never actually reveal any truth.
Most interesting member: Son, Billy, who has told his family he works for the government and kidnaps a stranger to pretend to be his girlfriend covering up for the fact that he has actually been in prison.
“Billy Brown: I’m asking you to come there and make me look good. Alright? And if you make a fool out of me, I swear to God, I’ll kill you right there. Boom! Right in front of Mommy and Daddy. And I’ll tell you something else, you make me look bad… I will never ever talk to you again, ever. But if you do a good job, well, then you can be my best friend. My best friend that I’ve ever had. You hear me? “
Film: American Beauty (1999)
Starring: Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, Allison Janney
Key dysfunctions: Dad is a violent, homophobic closet case, mom is off her face on prescription drugs and son, Ricky sells weed and is more than a little bit stalkery.
Most interesting member: It has to be Ricky and his “creative” courting techniques
“Colonel Frank Fitts: Where did you get that?
Ricky Fitts: From my job.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Don’t lie to me. Now, I saw you with him.
Ricky Fitts: You were watching me?
Colonel Frank Fitts: What did he make you do?
Ricky Fitts: Oh, Dad, you don’t really think that me and Mr. Burnham were…
Colonel Frank Fitts: Don’t you laugh at me. Now, I will not sit back and watch my only son become a cock-sucker!
Ricky Fitts: Jesus, what is it with you?
Colonel Frank Fitts: I swear to God, I will throw you out of the house and never look at you again!
Ricky Fitts: You mean that?
Colonel Frank Fitts: You’re damn straight I do. I’d rather you were dead than be a fuckin’ faggot.
Ricky Fitts: You’re right. I suck dick for money.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Boy, don’t start.
Ricky Fitts: Two thousand dollars – I’m that good.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Get out!
Ricky Fitts: And you should see me fuck. I’m the best piece of ass in three States.
Colonel Frank Fitts: Get out. I don’t ever want to see you again!
Ricky Fitts: What a sad old man you are. “
Film: American Beauty (1999)
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning. Thora Birch, Mena Suvari
Key dysfunctions: Mostly the fact that they all hate each other behind their perfect suburban veneer.
Most interesting member: Dad, Lester, whose midlife crisis is manifesting itself in furious masturbation, drug use and lusting after teenage girls
“Carolyn Burnham: Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don’t you tell our daughter about it, honey?
Lester Burnham: Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.
Carolyn Burnham: Your father seems to think this kind of behavior is something to be proud of.
Lester Burnham: And your mother seems to prefer that I go through life like a fucking prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.
Carolyn Burnham: How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn’t lose it. It’s not like, “Whoops! Where’d my job go?” I QUIT. Someone pass the asparagus, please.”
Film: Everything is Illuminated (2005)
Starring: Eugene Hutz, Elijah Wood, Boris Leskin
Key dysfunctions: Dad is a violent bully who arranges tours for American Jews to find their Ukrainian relatives (despite hating American Jews and their relatives), Grandad has fake psychosomatic blindness and son, Alex thinks it’s a good idea to teach his younger brother about life using porn mags
Most interesting member: Gradfather, who has all kinds of secrets from the rest of the family… and who has named his seeing eye dog Sammy Davis Jr Jr
“Alex: [voice over] This is my miniature brother, Igor. I am tutoring him to be a man of this world. For an example, I exhibited him a smutty magazine three days yore.
Igor: [in Russian] Why is it dubbed sixty-nine?
Alex: [voice over] I explain it to him that this is because it was invented in the year 1969. I know this because my friend Grisha knows a friend of the nephew of the inventor.
Igor: [in Russian] What did people do before 1969?
Alex: [voice over] He is a genius, my miniature brother. He will be made a VIP if I have a thing to do with it.”
Film: Stoker (2013)
Key dysfunctions: Well there are two sociopaths in the family along with a worryingly unhinged mother.
“Most interesting member: Mysterious Uncle Charlie
“Evelyn Stoker: You know, I’ve often wondered why it is we have children in the first place. And the conclusion I’ve come to is… At some point in our lives we realize things are screwed up beyond repair. So we decide to start again. Wipe the slate clean. Start fresh. And then we have children. Little carbon copies we can turn to and say, “You will do what I could not. You will succeed where I have failed.” Because we want someone to get it right this time. But not me… Personally speaking I can’t wait to watch life tear you apart.”