My List of Top 50 Dysfunctional Family Movies

Dark Shadows (2012)

The Family: The Collins family, an austere collection of oddballs whose world is turned upside down by the arrival of an ancient ancestor, who just so happens to be a vampire. Not that they were particularly normal before he showed up… any family with a live-in psychologist surely has a bit of a question mark hanging over them! Most Dysfunctional Element: It would be giving the game away to explain too many of the family’s secrets, suffice to say that nearly every member is harbouring one, each more shocking than the last. When the vampire is the normal one, you know you’re in trouble. How To Make Them Functional: Everybody needs to sit down in a non-judgemental sphere and get everything out in the open. There. Doesn’t that feel better?

Buffalo ’66 (1998)

The Family: The Brown family aren’t big on communication. How else could you explain their only son going to prison for five years without them noticing anything amiss? At least young Billy has turned out alright. You know, apart from the whole kidnapping a stranger and passing her off as his new bride thing. Most Dysfunctional Element: Mrs. Brown’s obsession with American football doesn’t seem entirely healthy, particularly when there are more pressing matters to attend to closer to home. How To Make Them Functional: Perhaps seeing their son get married might spark the family dynamic back into life. However, something tells us that relationship isn’t exactly built to last either…


2. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Weinstein Company / Courtesy Everett Collection After spending eight months in a mental health facility, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released under the condition that he lives with his parents. While his mom tries her best to keep the family together and afloat, the relationship between Pat and his dad is one of immense friction that leads to multiple shouting matches and one physical altercation. And the dysfunction only grows when Pat’s brother shows up and attempts to connect with him by reminding Pat of how terrible everything is in his life (in contrast to his brother’s life, which he claims is going great). The whole family dynamic is a mess that never really gets resolved, which, honestly, is a fair summary of a lot of people’s relationships with those they grew up with. Watch it on Netflix.

15. Pieces of April (2003)

United Artists / Courtesy Everett Collection April Burns (Katie Holmes) is estranged from her family but decides to invite them to visit her in New York for Thanksgiving, largely because it is very likely the last Thanksgiving her mom Joy (Patricia Clarkson) will be around for due to cancer. As the family makes its way to April’s place, both sides find themselves questioning if they made the right decision. But while not all of the problems within the family are resolved by the time they finally make it to New York, they do all learn to focus on the important things rather than get dragged down by the petty squabbles we often let ruin relationships. Watch it on Amazon Prime.