FRIDAY FIVE! Dysfunctional Families of Cinema

As the year winds down, families and friends will use any excuse to get together.  What, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, National Brownie day (December 8th… as if you could ever forget that) and Repeal Day, you have plenty of time to sing, laugh, eat and drink with those you love.

Though we may bitch and complain, these precious moments gift us with a lifetime of everlasting memories.  Well, except on Repeal Day of course.  And just like you, the families on this list make their own everlasting memories… for all the wrong reasons.  These are Hollywood’s top five dysfunctional families.

The insane family holiday/roadtrip is practically a genre unto itself.  Therefore, I offer a short list of five “honorable mentions…” those clans that are whacky, annoying, and bizarre but not truly bat-shit insane.

Honorable Mentions: The Skywalkers (Star Wars sextet), The Fockers (Meet the Parents, et al.), The Portokalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding, et. al.), The Klumps (The Nutty Professor, et. al.) and The Burnhams (American Beauty).

And now, on to the official list!

5.) The Griswolds, (National Lampoons Vacation Series)

Of course!  No doubt the Griswolds will kick off any “crazy family list” you see… and with good reason.  For pure, sustained insanity, no one tops this brood.  Their antics span five films, a commercial and what appears to be a sequel starring Ed Helms as an older Rusty who takes his own family to Wally World.  For my money, Christmas Vacation sets the gold standard.  Randy Quaid is a riot, a young Johnny Galecki plays Rusty and the Christmas feast is straight hilarious.

4.) The Tennenbaums, (The Royal Tennenbaums)

Wes Anderson is known for the unique, artful cinematography in his films and, in my opinion, The Royal Tennenbaums is his most visually interesting work.  Reflecting the moody tone, The Tennenbaums themselves look like Edward Gory drawings come to life.  If the visuals don’t immediately draw you in, then Gene Hackman as dying patriarch, Royal Tennenbaum, will.  Unsettling family dynamics have never been so entertaining.

3.) The Hoovers, (Little Miss Sunshine)

Far and away my favorite family on this list, The Hoovers prove that dysfunctional doesn’t necessarily mean broken.  Each member of the multi-generational clan brings their own brand of crazy to the table… which makes for a rocky roadtrip (to say the least).  But just when everything is coming apart at the seams, The Hoovers manage to bring it all together.  Nothing says family bonding like a strip club dance routine at a children’s pageant!

2.) The Corleone Family, (The Godfather Trilogy)

Yes, blood ties mean everything to the Corleones, but the family business is tough racket (see what I did there!).  Miss an important get together and you’ll probably wake up with your pet’s severed head between the sheets.  And that’s getting off light!  Just ask Fredo…

1.) The McManus Family, (The Boondock Saints)

Fraternal twins, Connor and Murphy, go on a righteous, vigilante murder spree in Boston (with no formal training), offing criminals, street scum and even Russian mafia dons.  Insane?  Definitely.  Dysfunctional?  Wait… it gets better.  Fearing for their own safety, Italian mobsters unleash “Il Duce,” (Billy Connolly… swoon) a mythic, near-unstoppable hitman, to kill the twins.  Turns out, “Il Duce” is their father.  That’s crazy!  Apparently, murder-festing runs in the family.  Fortunately for Connor and Murphy (and not so lucky for Boston’s underworld), “Il Duce” recognizes a family prayer and joins forces with his sons.  With the help of an FBI agent (William Defoe) and a few local detectives they continue their run of bloody justice.


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