7 Most Dysfunctional Families In Film For Your Thanksgiving Holiday Viewing

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Ah Thanksgiving. The holiday where all families gather round a large table to say what they’re most thankful for. The time that most people come together as one big happy family and maintain a sense of civility. However, there are those families out there that constantly bicker and fight over many things. It’s not that they don’t love one another, but that they have to put up with each other in order to keep the family together.  

These families on this list have a lot of trouble keeping it together. But that’s what make these films entertaining. In no particular order, here is my list of the ‘7 Most Dysfunctional Families In Film.’

1. The Engel’s: ‘Krampus’

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Just a few days before Christmas, a family gathering takes place at the Engel’s where every year they have a wonderful dinner to celebrate the holidays. However in this particular year, the family appears more torn apart where most of the family members disagree with the usual annual traditions. Their son Max begins to doubt the existence of Santa and the entire family begin to their lost their Christmas spirit.

They are later haunted by a demonic force known as Krampus that preys upon families who misbehave during the holidays. Fortunately for this family, they come together at the end, even though Krampus will continue to keep a close eye on them.

2. The Hillard’s: ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’

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Mr. Hillard (Robin Williams) who is a freelance voice actor living in the beautiful city of San Francisco, has a disagreement with his boss and eventually quits his job over a controversial script. Upon arriving home he throws a crazy birthday party for his son Chris that includes a petting zoo in their very own living room. When his wife (Sally Fields) finds out, she files for a divorce.

This family appears very dysfunctional, especially between the wife and the husband. You can tell that Fields’s character was heartbroken to file for a divorce, but she knew it was coming. If you’ve seen the film, you know the outcome. Though they don’t remarry, in the end they remain separated but they are able to work out their differences in court.

3. The Szalinski’s And The Thompson’s: ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids’

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You can consider this one to be a double whammy here. First you have of course the Szalinski family who have to put up with their father (Rick Moranis) who comes up with some rather bizarre inventions including a ray gun used to shrink objects. Wayne and his wife Diane are often at odds with each other. She believes that Wayne puts too much time into his inventions rather than spend some quality family time with his kids.

On the other side of the fence (quite literally), we have the Thompson’s. The Thompson’s are planning a fishing trip, however Russ isn’t too excited about going and would rather spend time with Wayne Szalinki’s daughter Amy. The father and son constantly clash over their differences of opinion as it’s quite hard for them to make up their mind.

Though these two families have their issues, they come together in the end and are able to sort out their differences.

4. The Sawyer’s: ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’

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Let’s just call it like it is: This is certainly the craziest most insane family on this list. However, I had to put the Sawyer’s on this list simply because they are the freakiest. They are a family of cannibals who give no recollection to human lives. They are pure evil and like all families on this list, constantly bicker and complain to each other.

They certainly earn a spot on this list if for no other reason because they are very different and absolutely creepy.

5. The Byrnes And The Fockers: ‘Meet the Parents’ And ‘Meet The Fockers’

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Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), a former CIA counterintelligence officer finds a disliking to his daughters fiance Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and tries everything he can to avoid a possible marriage. Though Greg tries hard to impress Jack as a future son-in-law, his plans fail miserably which forces Jack to take some rather drastic measures such as placing hidden cameras throughout the house.

The sequel Meet the Fockers shows Greg’s side of the family and the turmoil only gets worse. As Jack is finally starting to latch onto an agreed relationship between his daughter and Greg, he meets Greg’s parents and begins to question himself all over again. These families constantly bicker between each other and nobody seems to come out of an argument with some sort of resolution until the very end. Thankfully, the two families are able to come together and settle their differences.

6. The Reede’s: ‘Liar Liar’

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It’s tough enough when a father has to work a ton to pay the bills. It’s even tougher when Fletcher (Jim Carrey) can never make time for his own family. However, there is something he is rather good at other than his job; lying.

Though this family never truly falls apart like most of the others on this list, it’s rather sad to see a dad unable to make his family a priority. The worst part is that he constantly promises that he will make time especially for his son Max. This never appears to be the case however as Max is let down time after time. Realizing this, his wife Audrey informs Fletcher that they will be moving to Boston with someone else to avoid anymore heartbreaks that have hurt Max.

Fortunately for Fletcher he’s eventually able to keep his promises by telling the truth, therefore making him a better man. The family gets back together in the end with Fletcher playing one of his son’s favorite games: ‘The Claw.’

7. The Griswold’s: ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’

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If there’s any family who’s probably the most dysfunctional on this list, it’s the Griswolds. Though the Griswolds themselves all have their own problems, Clark’s and Ellen’s parents aren’t the nicest of bunches. Then there’s also Uncle Lewis and his senile wife Bethany along with Ellen’s cousin Catherine and her crazy husband Eddie with their kids and dog named Snots.

You can tell none of these families have their act together simply because they all have their individual problems. Eddie’s family has to sell their own house and live in an RV while the Griswold’s always do what the husband Clark wants to do. Also, Ellen’s parents aren’t too fond of Clark and see him as a problematic husband to his own family. Through all of the commotion, the families are able to celebrate Christmas together giving thanks to one another and appreciating everything they have.

So that’s my list! What do you think are the most dysfunctional families in film? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 



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