Film families come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them make you wish that you were part of the clan, and some of them … don't. I think we've all seen a film family that, if it was real, would belong on Maury Povich or Jerry Springer. Sometimes they're fun to watch and sometimes they make you uncomfortable, right through the screen. Take a look at these dysfunctional film families and let me know how they make you feel!
1. The Tenenbaums – the Royal Tenenbaums
The Tenenbaums are without question one of my favorite film families. I love the movie, and I love every member of this dysfunctional dynasty. Etheline is just a dream, and Anjelica Huston played her beautiful. Royal is a wonderful mess, and makes his family's dysfunctions understandable the moment he appears on screen. They all belong on a talk show, but I'd have to say that Margot and Richie would probably steal the spotlight. Then again, the fact that Royal faked having cancer in order to manipulate his family for a place to live would deserve some serious screen time as well.
2. The Burnhams – American Beauty
The Burnhams are my second favorite dysfunctional film family, although their problems are subtler than the Tenenbaums'. So, they'd definitely do better on Maury than on Jerry Springer, even though there are no paternity questions to answer. The Burnhams have some deep seated issues, and since Lester is prone to throwing plates of asparagus, I can only imagine that there would be some chairs flying on a sound stage.
3. The Corleones – the Godfather Trilogy
What can I say about the Corleones? They really don't belong on this list, just because you know there'd be a serious crap storm if someone dragged them onto a talk show. If it happened, I don't think it would be a case of “leave the guns, take the cannoli.” In fact, I think it would be the other way around. I wonder what they would talk about on stage, though – wedding days, the best place to hide a gun, or ill fated fishing trips?
4. The Torrances – the Shining
Stephen King does dysfunctional families very well. The Torrances have become iconic – but, in film, only when Jack Nicholson plays the patriarch. It's not even Jack Torrances actions at the Overlook that make the family dysfunctional. How about the fact that he was such a serious drunk that he once broke little Danny's arm? And poor Danny, well, he's got issues out the wazoo, they just come to the fore at the hotel.
5. The Huffs – Step Brothers
Some dysfunctional film families are blended – badly. Like the Huffs! I can't even imagine a situation like this, which may be why I have no trouble imagining them on the set of the Maury show. Then again, they're so vulgar and awkward, they might fare better with Jerry. Brennan and Dale wouldn't be the only two in the hot seat though, especially considering the fact that Brennan's brother Scott's wife, Alice, has a serious thing for Dale. Wouldn't that be an awesome showdown?
6. The Hoovers – Little Miss Sunshine
This is actually the movie that sparked the idea for this post. I was watching Toddlers & Tiaras (don't judge!) and got a hankering to watch this movie after. The Hoovers are pretty subtle with their dysfunctions as well, at least at first. They present a special case, though, because for all the weird, uncomfortable, and awkward situations they go through together, there's still a real spark of familial love there. Still, you can't discount the fact that they have a lot of problems, and anyone who allows their young daughter to first race alongside their aging bus and then bust a serious move at a baby beauty contest, well … they've definitely got issues.
7. The Crawfords – Mommie Dearest
You've got to love film families whose dysfunctions are based on real life, right? I love this movie. I don't even know how many times I've seen it, and I've read the book twice as many times. Even though some scenes in the film are greatly exaggerated, Joan Crawford was seriously dysfunctional, and her issues definitely affected her interactions with her children. A lot. To the point where it affects audiences. Like, I won't even have any wire hangers in my house – just in case.
8. The Fireflies/Driftwoods/Spauldings – the Devil's Rejects
First off, the reason that I'm specifically pinpointing The Devil's Rejects as opposed to House of 1000 Corpses is because the sequel really focused more on the family. You get to see the origins of their dysfunctions (although I think it would be awesome if Rob Zombie created a trilogy by writing an explanatory prequel). Regardless, I love both movies, and this crazy clan is one of my favorite film families everywhere. I can't even begin listing their dysfunctions, but once you take your daughter and pseudo-son on a murderous rampage to avoid the police, you win. The end.
Film families are meant to inspire you – or outrage you. They pull you in or push you away, but the point is that you pay attention. There are all kinds of families in the movies, but if they're the focus, then they better be interesting – even if you're only interested because they're so awful. By all rights, I know the Griswolds should probably be on here as well, but my thought is that while the family, especially the extended clan, definitely has some problems, they're not nearly as dysfunctional as some of the broods mentioned here. Who are some of your favorite dysfunctional film families?
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