Dysfunctional Family Movies

Updated
Dysfunctional Family Movies

So many films have explored Dysfunctional Family Movies. Here are 25 of our favorites.

American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty
★★★★
★★★★
3.4 out of 4 stars

From Sam Mendes, starring Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley
Rated R

American Beauty is a 1999 American drama film directed by Sam Mendes and written by Alan Ball. The film stars Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, and Wes Bentley, and follows Lester Burnham, a middle-aged magazine writer who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend, Angela. Lester's transformations include indulging in his fantasies and seeking revenge on those who have slighted him, and ultimately reckons with his mortality. The film was released to widespread critical acclaim, being praised for its performances, direction, screenplay, score, and cinematography. It was nominated for and won numerous awards, including five Academy Awards, as well as four BAFTAs and two Golden Globe Awards. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of the 1990s, and has since been re-evaluated in the 21st century as one of the most important films in the history of American cinema.

Magnolia (1999)

Magnolia
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Tom Cruise, Jason Robards, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Rated R

Magnolia is a 1999 American epic drama film written, produced and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It follows the intersecting lives of eight people in the San Fernando Valley of California, with events reaching a climax during a rain-soaked night. The cast includes Tom Cruise, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Robards, Melinda Dillon, John C. Reilly, Philip Baker Hall, and William H. Macy. The film is a mosaic of different themes and characters, including illness, loneliness, and family dynamics. It focuses on the search for redemption and the need to move on from the past. The characters are drawn together by a series of coincidences, with each character revealing something about the others in the course of their interactions. The film is divided into three acts, with each act taking place over the course of a single, rain-soaked night. The film is an exploration of life's struggles, and the power of forgiveness, faith, and love. Its non-linear narrative structure, with overlapping stories and surrealistic sequences, have drawn comparisons to Robert Altman's Short Cuts. Magnolia earned critical acclaim, and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Shoplifters (2018)

Shoplifters
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Hirokazu Koreeda, starring Lily Franky, Sakura Andô, Kirin Kiki, Mayu Matsuoka
Rated R

Shoplifters is a 2018 Japanese drama film written, directed and edited by Hirokazu Koreeda. The film follows an impoverished family living in Tokyo who rely on shoplifting to survive. When the family takes in a young girl they find living on the streets, they must confront the realities of their situation. With an intricate and heartfelt story, the film explores the complexities of familial bonds, poverty, and the ways in which humans can form connections in the direst of circumstances. Shoplifters won the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, and was Japan's submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.

Knives Out (2019)

Knives Out
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Rian Johnson, starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis
Rated PG-13

Knives Out is a 2019 murder mystery film directed by Rian Johnson. The film follows the story of famous crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) who is found dead the morning after his 85th birthday party. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is brought in to investigate the mysterious death, questioning the members of the Thrombey family and the staff who were present at the party. As the investigation progresses, many secrets are revealed and the truth about Harlan's death is uncovered. The film is full of intrigue, suspense, and unexpected twists and turns, making it an engrossing and entertaining mystery.

Boyhood (2014)

Boyhood
★★★★
★★★★
3.2 out of 4 stars

From Richard Linklater, starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Elijah Smith
Rated R

Boyhood is an American coming-of-age drama film written and directed by Richard Linklater. The film follows the life of Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) from age 6 to age 18, as he grows up in Texas with his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke). Over the 12-year period, we watch Mason and his family navigate life's complexities as Mason grows into an adult. The film is notable for its use of a single actor to portray Mason over the course of twelve years, with Linklater using the same actors throughout filming to create a sense of continuity and realism. The film follows Mason's relationships with his parents, his friends, and his sister, as he learns to make his own decisions and discovers his identity. In the end, Boyhood is an honest, heartfelt look at the process of growing up and the challenges and joys that come with it.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Little Miss Sunshine
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Abigail Breslin
Rated R

Little Miss Sunshine is a 2006 comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It follows the Hoover family—father Richard (Greg Kinnear), mother Sheryl (Toni Collette), grandfather Edwin (Alan Arkin), son Dwayne (Paul Dano), and daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin)—on a road trip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Redondo Beach, California, to participate in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Along the way, they must deal with Edwin's recent attempt at suicide, Dwayne's vow of silence, and the many misfortunes that befall them. As they travel, they gradually come closer as a family while learning to accept and love one another, despite their differences. While they may not all make it to the end of the journey, they will certainly never forget it.

Captain Fantastic (2016)

Captain Fantastic
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Matt Ross, starring Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Samantha Isler, Annalise Basso
Rated R

Captain Fantastic is a 2016 American comedy-drama film directed by Matt Ross and written by Ross and Jim Mangold. The film stars Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, a devoted father of six living off the grid in the forests of the Pacific Northwest with his family. After the death of his wife, Ben is forced to leave his self-created utopia and enter the world, confronting his views on parenting, love, faith, and personal freedom. Along the way, he comes face-to-face with the harsh realities of society, and must decide whether to let go of his ideals in order to ultimately make the right decision for his children.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

What's Eating Gilbert Grape
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Lasse Hallström, starring Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen
Rated PG-13

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a 1993 drama film directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Johnny Depp, Juliette Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Darlene Cates. The story follows Gilbert Grape, an aimless and isolated young man living in a small Midwestern town, Endora. Gilbert is tasked with caring for his obese mother, and his mentally challenged brother, Arnie. Gilbert's life is further complicated when a mysterious young woman and her grandmother arrive in town. Through his interactions with the newcomers, Gilbert begins to discover a purpose in life and finds the strength to face his fears and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Along the way, he learns the importance of family, friendship, and love.

Happiness (1998)

Happiness
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Todd Solondz, starring Jane Adams, Jon Lovitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dylan Baker
Rated NC-17

Happiness is a 1998 dark comedy written and directed by Todd Solondz. It tells the story of three sisters, Joy, Trish, and Helen, and their family's struggle with the many ups and downs of life. Joy is a successful, but misguided businesswoman whose attempts to find true love and happiness are constantly being thwarted by her own self-destructive behavior. Trish is a housewife who is living in denial and struggling to cope with her husband's infidelity. Helen is an insecure, overweight and unpopular misfit who is desperately trying to find her place in the world. Meanwhile, their father, Mona, is struggling to connect with his daughters and find his place in the world. The film focuses on the inner lives of the sisters and their family, exploring themes of loneliness, depression, and the search for true happiness.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From David O. Russell, starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver
Rated R

Silver Linings Playbook is a 2012 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by David O. Russell. The film stars Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano, Jr., a former teacher with bipolar disorder who is released from a mental health facility and moves back in with his parents. Jennifer Lawrence plays the role of Tiffany Maxwell, a young widow who is struggling to put her life back together. Pat and Tiffany develop a friendship and ultimately a romantic connection. Together, they work to build a life for themselves, full of humor, hope, and the possibility for redemption and love.

Nebraska (2013)

Nebraska
★★★★
★★★★
3.1 out of 4 stars

From Alexander Payne, starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk
Rated R

Nebraska is a 2013 film directed by Alexander Payne that follows the story of Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), an elderly man who is determined to claim a million-dollar prize he believes he has won. His son David (Will Forte) reluctantly takes a road trip with him to Nebraska, in order to prove to Woody that the prize is a hoax. Along the way, they make various stops in Woody’s old hometown, meeting up with old friends and family, and giving David a better understanding of his father. The story is a heartfelt exploration of generational relationships and the shared challenges of aging and coming to terms with life’s failures.

The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)

The Mitchells vs the Machines
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe, starring Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Michael Rianda
Rated PG

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a 2021 American computer-animated science fiction comedy film directed by Michael Rianda and Jeff Rowe and produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The film follows the Mitchells, a dysfunctional but loving family, on their cross-country road trip. Along the way, they find themselves at the center of a robot uprising, and must save the world from the machines. The family must learn to trust and rely on each other in order to save the day. With an all-star cast featuring Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, and more, the movie will make you laugh and cry as the Mitchells battle their way through the robot revolution.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Wes Anderson, starring Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller
Rated R

The Royal Tenenbaums is a 2001 American dark comedy directed by Wes Anderson. The film follows the lives of the estranged Tenenbaum siblings, all of whom are former child prodigies whose lives have taken different paths. The siblings reunite when their estranged father, Royal (Gene Hackman) attempts to reconcile with them. As the Tenenbaums attempt to reconcile, old secrets and unresolved conflicts come to the surface, testing the strength of the family's bond. Despite the dysfunction, the siblings ultimately come together, realizing the importance of family.

The Farewell (2019)

The Farewell
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Lulu Wang, starring Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo, Hong Lu
Rated PG

The Farewell is a 2019 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Lulu Wang. It stars Awkwafina as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who returns to China upon learning her beloved grandmother has terminal cancer. Despite the family’s wishes to keep the diagnosis a secret from their beloved matriarch, Billi is determined to tell her the truth. Filled with both joyous and heartbreaking moments, The Farewell follows the story of a family coming together to say goodbye. Along the way, Billi grapples with her cultural identity and her place within her family.

Little Children (2006)

Little Children
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Todd Field, starring Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley
Rated R

Little Children is a 2006 American drama film directed by Todd Field. The movie follows the lives of two couples living in a suburban town and their struggles with parenting, infidelity, and dissatisfaction with their lives. Sarah (Kate Winslet) is an unhappy stay-at-home mother who is fixated on an online affair. Brad (Patrick Wilson) is a law school dropout who becomes a stay-at-home father and finds an unlikely friendship with Sarah. Meanwhile, Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) is an ex-convict who is struggling to cope with his past and reconnect with his son. As the couples begin to interact with one another, tensions between them arise and secrets are revealed, leading to a powerful climax. Little Children is a thought-provoking and deeply affecting film that examines the lives of average people and the choices they make.

The Way Way Back (2013)

The Way Way Back
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb
Rated PG-13

Molly's Game (2017)

Molly's Game
★★★★
★★★★
3 out of 4 stars

From Aaron Sorkin, starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera
Rated R

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

The Squid and the Whale
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Noah Baumbach, starring Owen Kline, Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg
Rated R

Death at a Funeral (2007)

Death at a Funeral
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Frank Oz, starring Matthew Macfadyen, Peter Dinklage, Ewen Bremner, Keeley Hawes
Rated R

Hereditary (2018)

Hereditary
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Ari Aster, starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
Rated R

The Descendants (2011)

The Descendants
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Alexander Payne, starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause
Rated R

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

The Simpsons Movie
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From David Silverman, starring Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith
Rated PG-13

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)

The Darjeeling Limited
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From Wes Anderson, starring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Amara Karan
Rated R

Muriel's Wedding (1994)

Muriel's Wedding
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From P.J. Hogan, starring Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Bill Hunter, Sophie Lee
Rated R

August: Osage County (2013)

August: Osage County
★★★★
★★★★
2.9 out of 4 stars

From John Wells, starring Meryl Streep, Dermot Mulroney, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis
Rated R

 



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