25 More Dysfunctional Families on Film


Last week, we shared a list of some entertaining movies about dysfunctional families. But the closer we got to Thanksgiving, as we made plans to head home for turkey and awkward moments in which we avoid talking about politics with our extended family, the more we realized that we missed a few great films that feature families that make our own look pretty normal in comparison. Take a look at this second round of fights, tears, breakups, and breakdowns for some fun tips on how not to act at dinner next week!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWyH_twcMl0]

Little Miss Sunshine

This Oscar-winning comedy was a sleeper hit and charmed the pants off millions, despite being one of the few lighthearted films I’ve ever seen to feature a grandfather who’s addicted to heroin.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G7Ju035-8U]

The Shining

It’s one of the scariest, most deeply unsettling movies ever made, and part of that might have to do with the weird family issues at the center of the film. Your father is supposed to protect you from your haunted house, not join its ranks!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmByQkq1xNI]


To call this “a movie about a dysfunctional family” is perhaps the understatement of the year, but still: this isn’t one for Family Movie Night.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjK97CqVqWA]

Mildred Pierce

Skip the Kate Winslet remake and stick to the original film (it’s so much shorter!) about a long-suffering mom who just can’t do enough to satisfy her awful daughter.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_X2pDRXyY]

Winter’s Bone

It’s already a bummer when you’re dad’s a deadbeat jerk, but it’s even worse when you have to tie up all of his unfinished meth-dealing business. Also, growing up in the Ozarks sounds really not-fun.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBA_4cc92Vo]

Slums of Beverly Hills

Raise your hand if your dad never caught you dancing around your bedroom with a giant vibrator! Oh, really?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLRgAe2jLaw]

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Tilda Swinton loses Mom of the Year yet again, but it’s not really her fault that her son is a sociopathic monster!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Q3ltyPJJMQ]

American Beauty

If your mom was a psychopathic perfectionist and your dad was trying to fuck your best friend, maybe you’d flash your breasts at the creepy boy next door, too.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKe_AxTFGXc]

The Celebration

Nothing ruins a wedding party better than a child molestation accusation!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyy_A4wNQa8]

The Prince of Tides

If it’s based on a Pat Conroy book, you’re going to have a screwed-up family. This one has a semi-abusive dad, an unloving mother, a suicidal sister, and a giant ginger rapist.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cVwBjwRGgg]

The Lion in Winter

Think your family fights get heated? At least you don’t have the future of the kingdom resting on your shoulders!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC11hje64hc]

Female Trouble

John Waters takes the dysfunctional family trope to a new level with Female Trouble, starring Divine as teenage mom Dawn Davenport.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz6pGSKGdho]

Pieces of April

Thanksgiving is primetime for family blow-outs, especially when you’re the black sheep of the family and invite everyone over to your disgusting New York City apartment for dinner.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7BFZqQ4ruA]

Fish Tank

Things are bound to get weird when your single mom brings Michael Fassbender home, especially if he immediately encourages you to take up exotic dancing.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhXGDDN4PMI]

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Poor Dawn Weiner: she’s always overshadowed by her younger sister, Missy, and she can’t even get anyone else to join the Special People’s Club. You can’t help but cheer along with her when Missy gets kidnapped.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=648-2RE4XAk]

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

No one really dreams of growing old, becoming an invalid, and having to live with your awful, jealous sister who feeds you rats. Talk about a bummer, you guys.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KDhKugzuE8]


The dysfunctional family gets a little gothy in this creepy thriller about a teenage girl who begins to suspect that her mysterious uncle killed her father so he could shack up with her mom.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWsG_Qj1wUo]

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

You know things are going to get weird whenever there’s an old man named Big Daddy hanging about, but the added bonus of homoeroticism and a horny Elizabeth Taylor take this Tennessee Williams classic to excellent, uncomfortable levels.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrJB48uTSeA]

Savage Grace

This is a movie about classic rich-people problems: travel, infidelity, incest, murder. You know the drill.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkIBvUoedFY]

Buffalo ’66

Vincent Gallo’s directorial debut finds him playing an ex-con who, after kidnapping a young woman (played by Christina Ricci), returns home to his boisterous and domineering parents.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxpvzmvFHTM]

Killer Joe

Tracy Letts will see the movie version of his Pulitzer-winning play, August: Osage County, hit theaters next month, but this film, based on an earlier play, proves that Letts had a fondness for crazy clans of Southerners who find incredibly sadistic ways to rip each other to shreds.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V8ldV0jSdY]

City Island

I mean, just because everyone in your family lies to one another doesn’t mean they don’t love each other, right?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj5_FhLaaQQ]

Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell proves that crazy is relative (get it?!) in this wacky romantic comedy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUSPGXmZQbM]


Having Cher as your mom seems like a whole lotta fun, unless, I suppose, you have dreams of becoming a nun.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=decUIVkZ4GI]

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

The Griswolds are so dysfunctional that they’ve been featured in four movies, and you might as well prepare for that other potentially awful family holiday with this modern Christmas classic.