Survive Your Dysfunctional Family With the Help of These Holiday Movies
As the holidays inch closer, so do the inevitable awkward silences at the family dinner table, reminders not to mention long-simmering disagreements and, of course, political arguments where no one will win over anybody else to their side. (If you have absolutely zero family drama to fear this holiday season, you can stop reading right here.) Luckily, Hollywood understands that fear all too well, which is why for every White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street, there are plenty of films whose Christmas music montages only highlight families' slow destruction.
To prepare you for the holiday season, we've come up with a list of those films. Some of them are forthright about their characters' screwed-up lives, while others seem to think that a few disturbing household dynamics are normal or cute. All of these movies will make you feel better about your own family's dysfunction.
The McCallisters are lucky that Macaulay Culkin's Kevin happens to be the most ingenious elementary school student ever, because otherwise Home Alone would have ended with his being murdered by home intruders and their being investigated by child protective services. Seriously, not only does this family forget Culkin at home when they leave for a Christmas vacation, but they do it again in the sequel. Hope they're ready to pay for Culkin's massive therapy bills.
While You Were Sleeping
A romantic comedy whose premise seems sweet until you actually think about it – looking at you, Sleepless in Seattle – While You Were Sleeping follows Sandra Bullock's shy fare taker as she saves her crush's life on Christmas Day. When he falls into a coma and his family mistakenly thinks she's his fiancée, Bullock just goes along with the charade. While the family members are more distant from one another than truly dysfunctional, the fact that they don't insist Bullock get a mental health evaluation indicates some deep-seated issues.
House of Yes
Without spoiling too much, this might be the most screwed-up family on this entire list. Not only is one of the family's children – who was recently released from a psychiatric hospital – obsessed with Jackie O to the point where she often re-enacts JFK's murder, but each of the other family members also harbors Lannister-level secrets that threaten their sanity when they gather together for Thanksgiving.
The Family Stone
Sarah Jessica Parker plays an uptight woman who clashes with her boyfriend's liberal clan when she comes to stay with them over the holidays. While The Family Stone is a fairly standard portrait of family dysfunction, it's elevated by its treatment of political differences as well as the cast's dedicated performances. Plus, though the film ends with everyone looking happy, some of the characters' eventual partners are a little…unsettling.
While the Peltzer family in Gremlins might seem like the average American family, son Billy and mother Lynn are actually held hostage by father Randall's broken inventions, failed dreams and poor taste in pets. When Lynn not only turns a juicer on a gremlin but then also microwaves another to death, it's clear that some kind of buried anger over her life as a long-suffering housewife has been awakened in her. She's the most terrifying character in the whole movie, and this is a film that features literal monsters.
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