Based on the works of J.D. Salinger, The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) boasts the ultimate example of a dysfunctional family. The film features a cast full of crazies: the scheming patriarch, the bohemian mother, the neurotic children. Let’s be honest — the Tenenbaums’ eccentricities make our own seem so darn normal. A holiday with this gang is sure to involve some serious screaming, petty fights and multiple meltdowns.
If you think your parents get on your case, consider Jane Burham’s situation in American Beauty (1999). Her controlling mother wants nothing more than to project the image of familial perfection, but she takes her escalating frustration out on everything from her daughter to her rose bushes. Jane’s dad, on the other hand, emerges from his mid-life slump to develop an obsessive attraction to her best friend. Needless to say, they don’t get along, and the tableside bickering might last until Christmas.
The household in The Virgin Suicides (1999) is more like a suburban cult than a normal family. The five blonde daughters — Lux, Cecilia, Therese, Bonnie and Mary — are oppressed by their conservative, Type A parents until their breaking point… when they all commit suicide. Thanksgiving with the Lisbons would be incredibly awkward, and you’d be forced to break out the pressed pants and knee-length skirts.
In Mommie Dearest (1981), Joan Crawford is a monster in maternal form. Jealous, enraged, self-centered and simply psychotic, Crawford alternates between pampering her children and abusing them. If you’re ever forced to spend the holidays with this woman, you may not survive. Definitely make sure to hide the wire hangers.
Just Can’t Work It Out
Family fighting rarely reaches the consistently unbearable level that the Hoovers have perfected in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). From foulmouthed grandpa Edwin to brooding son Dwayne to energetic dad Richard, this family’s bizarre composition is a definite recipe for disaster. Thank God for little Olive, or else the Hoovers’ arguing might have caused them to miss the holidays altogether.
Those Crazy Aunts
You’ll consider restricting the big meal to your immediate family after watching the hell that Mortimer Brewster goes through at the hands of his homicidal aunts and delusional brothers in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944). Just after taking the plunge following an eternity as a bachelor, Mortimer takes his new bride on an ill-fated trip back home, where his aunts reveal their deepest secrets and his brother does his best Teddy Roosevelt impression. So much for marital bliss.