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Top 10 Movies About Unusual Families

Ryan Thomas . . . Comments

“The times they are a-changing,” penned Dylan, making commentary on a flagrant cultural revolution. While the sixties were especially steeped in disrupted norms and contumacious individuals, it seems cultural revolution isn’t so rare or spectacular anymore. Technology innovates itself so quickly, and so frequently, that it’s reached a point of being underwhelming. Music always overthrows itself. And people are more open-minded and perceptive than ever. Traditions, like stubborn insects, die quickly, and it should be no shock to understand that the nuclear family isn’t as prevalent as it used to be (to the great, horrified dismay of a million republicans). Many kids have grown up in the arms of two same-sex parents, and many more celebrate Christmas twice. Dysfunction is the new function. Until everybody can get on board and get used to it, or inexorable old dogs die out in entirety, these ideas must be presented and made abundantly clear. Here are ten films that do just that.


World’s Greatest Dad

In this (at times) music video look-alike, written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, Robin Willams is the world’s greatest dad. Sorta. His maladjusted son, whom he raises as a single (dating) parent, accidentally commits suicide in the most embarrassing possible way. The result, Robin Williams’s character, a teacher with a dormant writing career, finds a new outlet as he exploits his dead son in order to defibrillate his writing career. He feigns releasing his dead son’s journal entries, as he simply rewrites his son’s own identity. His classmates come to understand him from “beyond the pale”, as his dad makes him out to be super thoughtful/likable/romantic. Williams, while erasing his son’s poor and/or negligible perception and fabricating a more ideal memory, feeds a double-edged lie that serves his own ego and reputation just as much. Great dad…



Okay, so this one is not, by any means, a realistic scenario: two mentally-regressed, unemployed forty-somethings become co-inhabiting step-siblings, as their single parents form a union and create the most dysfunctional family living under one roof. Key scene: when they attempt to build bunkbeds in order to free up space for “activities.” They both discover how much they have in common (i.e. watermelon karate, Shark Week and musical aspirations) and bond, as they are forced to grow up by a father figure on his last nerve, and even share a common enemy in Will Ferrel’s adjusted older brother (a brother who, while driving a totemic SUV, insists that his “perfect” family nail an acapella version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” to perfect harmony).


The Squid and the Whale

This movie focuses on the subject of divorce, and the way it directly affects the children. Jeff Daniels is an elitist professor, his wife, Laura Linney, a writer. The dad drinks and vents unto his impressionable children, who lack proper social skills or behavioral conduct (the little son calls people “ass man” when he gets angry, and “seagulls” all over his school, while the older just can’t deal with girls properly). This movie is kinda twisted, remorselessly showing every uncomfortable detail in an imploding family’s terrible saga, but it is based on the true childhood of filmmaker, Noah Baumbach.



With a name like Precious, it comes as a cruel source of humiliation when her abusive mother screams it from behind an always playing television and always burning cigarette, before she throws a frying pan at the back of her head, concussively so. Her dad abuses her sexually, and also is the father of her own two children, one of whom is mentally retarded (common result of incest). All of this, and she is expected to make it through school without being teased for her weight. Thankfully, she finds redemption in the end…almost (won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, or read the book Push, from which the film is adapted). But she finds a kind of second family in her embracing classmates from her remedial class, who even stand by her as she gives birth to her father’s child (for whom her deranged mother envies her, taken symbolically as “her man” showing more “love” to Precious than her). See it and realize your family is more normal than you know.


Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Directed by Martin Scorsese, this is one of the best movies he made not involving New York, Italian stereotypes or the mafia. No, this film follows a wannabe singer/single mother who takes her wide-eyed son around with her as she seeks a place to call home, as well as the comfort of strangers. While she settles with some flotsam to simply stay afloat, she ultimately seeks a father figure for her under-attended son. That complete package exists in the form of singer/song-writer Kris Kristofferson, who offers her what she wants and needs, but also provokes her mama bear instincts. This film makes for an interesting case study of a single parent, and all the tests and trials that come with the occupation.


Igby Goes Down

Aside from being a great Catcher in the Rye tribute, this movie has all the necessary ingredients to make an angsty teen lash out: a dad on the cusp of his own sanity, making Igby dress up and act like his own father; a mother who’s truly a heartless monster. As such, Igby resorts to pills and sneaking drags of pot while attending a military academy. He also seems to long for a mother figure who doesn’t exist in the form of his own, one with whom he can also engage romantically. Students of Freud would have a field day watching this film, noting every instance of the Oedipus complex surfacing.


The Ice Storm

Ang Lee apparently loves to watch families fail; the Ice Storm shows parents, of two families in particular, who behave like children, teaching less than acting on impulse. Drinking and cheating, they avoid serious responsibility in spite of work, and thus provide little direction for misguided children. Elijah Wood seems to take literally the worst of what terrible teachings he’s given, standing as a personification of easy suggestion and confusion (his class presentation shows it all). Tragedy is made tangible with the onslaught of a record-breaking eponymous ice storm, which is inevitably what it takes to snap everyone back to reality, a necessary whiplash. Such is only in accordance with real life.


Brokeback Mountain

Another by Ang Lee, this gay cowboy romance flick highlights the imperfections of a traditional value-oriented heterosexual marriage. When Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar express themselves upon each other one night while doing shepherd work, their inescapable passions let their respective marriages dissolve. As they continually sneak off to go “fishing” with one another, the taboos of their actions disrupt their otherwise pitch-perfect lifestyles. Boils comes to head when locals catch on to that which is aggressively forbidden in 1963 Wyoming. The ending is starkly tragic, and perhaps a cause for relinquishing ignorant habits and letting some traditions stay in the past, in some horrifying View-Master slide.


American Beauty

The Facade of Suburbia is a theme Sam Mendes specializes and thrives in. This movie is a modern American classic focusing on what seethes beneath the surface of a “picture-perfect” family, and it’s certainly not happiness. Adultery, voyeuristic fantasy, decadence and loathing are what, more often than not, can be found. Dad, masturbating in the shower, reveals that that is the “high point” in his day. He later quits his phone-answering job to smoke pot, lift weights and work at a fast food place. Career Mom, amidst a crying meltdown, slaps herself in the face while screaming “Stop it, stop it, you baby!” after failing to sell a house (she’s a real estate agent). Neighbors include a happy, functioning gay couple and a hardcore military dad who is repulsed by them. The over-bearing ex-marine is completely unaware that the son, who’s nothing like him, sells pot and videotapes the neighbor girl. American Beauty is literally a neighborhood unto itself, capturing glimpses of the different ways a family can be…and crumble.


Running with Scissors

This is an extremely unusual but brilliant film about a young boy whose parents break up due to his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s unstable behavior. The boy, Augusten Burroughs, is farmed out to his mother’s therapist (Dr Finch) who has an equally bizarre and unstable family – featuring a gay older son (who ends up in a relationship with 14 year old Burroughs – with the apparent blessing of everyone in the film) and two sisters – both of whom are equally strange. To top it off, Finch is crazy and his wife is on the verge of insanity. The film features amazing performances from Annette Bening and Gwyneth Paltrow. It is a definite must-see if you haven’t. Oh – and to top it off, it is based on a true story.


Toy Story

As a kid you don’t pick up on it. As an adult, it’s undeniable: this story, which at first glance is about a trunk full of toys that come to life when all the humans disappear, reveals the life a child’s imagination can take (as well as his toys) when he lacks the emotional support of a father figure, a father who is suspiciously absent throughout this movie. When Andy has a birthday party and goes to a Pizza Planet, you wonder why his father never seems able to accompany. When he moves, it’s just him and his mom, (his toys) and his sighs. The sequels play up feelings of abandonment, felt by toys whose owners become too old to play with them. How like putting your kids up for adoption a garage sale suddenly becomes.

  • Boobs

    Second hand lions should be on here :)

    • Mabel

      My bf made me watch that movie recently and I absolutely LOVED it!

  • Otter

    Is it just me or is Toy Story being a little overanalyzed?

    • Overasteriskalized?

      • George

        He wanted to say an a lyzed. But the site saw the word a n a l and blocked it. Ridiculous imo.

        • YouRang?

          And yet the usernname “Boobs” is untouched. And there’s nothing worse than untouched boobs.

          • Gabriel


    • Name

      it matchs purfectly for a bonus although pixar said they designed them as an office type group with business meetings and ect.

    • Tink

      I agree that’s looking too much into Toy Story.. I mean think about it… VIRTUALLY ALL Disney movies have absent parent figures.

      Bambii- Killed.

      Little Mermaid- No mom,

      Lion King- Killed,

      Pocahantas- No mom,

      Pinochio- no Mom,

      Cinderella- No dad,

      The Jungle Book- No parents,

      Tarzan- Abandoned Parents,

      Peter pan- no parents,

      Aladdin- No mom (Jasmine) noparents mentioned for Aladdin,

      The list goes on and on!

      • Jaxe

        Cinderella- No mum thus the stepmother
        Tarzan- Not abandoned Parents but they were killed

        But yeah your list of absent parents certainly made me realise how often disney does this..never occurred to me before :O

        Theres also:
        Beauty and the beast – Belle has no mum
        The princess and the frog – Father killed
        Snow white – No mum
        Finding Nemo – Mum killed
        Lilo and stitch – No parents

        O.O now im trying to figure out a Disney movie where both parents are actually alive…only Hercules comes to mind wow

        • Sleeping Beauty – both parents of Aurora & Phillip still alive

          Cinderella – father possibly poisoned by Lady Tremaine

          Bambi – mother killed, father still alive

          Dumbo – mother alive, no mention of father

          Peter Pan – Wendy’s parents still alive

          Mary Poppins – parents of children still alive

          The Little Mermaid – revealed in a sequel that Ariel’s mother was killed by humans, explaining Triton’s hate for them

          One Hundred & One Dalmatians – Pongo and Perdita are alive

          Mulan – Mulan’s parents, as well as grandmother are alive. Shang’s father killed in battle.

          Tangled – both parents alive

          It’s not unheard of for both parents to still be alive. Yes, I know I watch entirely too many Disney movies.

  • loapaja

    No Royal Tenenbaums?

    • Okay serious omission – it should have been here! I forgot when I was editing and would have added it if I remembered. Sorry :(

      • Julius

        Pretty much any Wes Anderson Movie could make the list. The 3 brothers in Darjeeling Limited aren’t exactly functional/usual either. :)

      • beth

        what about the family from Happieness

  • Mkoua

    “The Squid and the Whale” sucked so hard.

    Also, could have been on the list, “Rachel Getting Married”. Definitely top ten worst movies I have ever seen. It was like the perfect storm of awful.

    1.Indie Hype

    2. Fake Indie movie (made by little known Ted Demme, ya know, the guy who made “Silence of the Lambs”

    3. Hipster soundtrack (featuring singer as an actor!)

    4. I shit you not, a 10 minute dishwashing scene

    5. Zero likable/relatable characters

    6. Stupid Premise

    7. Forced diversity

    • You’re a cynical turd. Also there’s nothing on IMDB about Ted Demme working on Silence of the Lambs or American Beauty. That would be because it’s Jonathan Demme that directed Silence of the Lambs. And he didn’t work on American Beauty. I don’t know what you’re talking about there.

    • akiraronin

      Nice to see an honest to God film critic here. Shame this list isn’t as much about praising the merits of the listed films as it is about their depiction of dysfunctional families. So tell me again why your comment was necessary?

  • You put Toy Story as a bonus? Royal Tenenbaums?

  • adifferentJamie

    Another interesting family was featured in a movie called ‘At Close Range’. Christopher Walken and the Penn brothers make it worth checking out.

  • cesar

    Cement Garden, The Royal Tenenbaums

  • laughingpear

    World’s Greatest Dad was actually a great movie… if I had to re-order all these entries I’d put it somewhere in the top 5 with American Beauty right behind it. I haven’t seen enough of the others to do a whole list though.

  • Grace

    The Royal Tenenbaums, anyone?

  • akiraronin

    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre family were also a bit…odd.

  • sega

    I think Dogtooth could be #1.. though i havent seen Running With Scissors, Dogtooth is easily more unusual than American Beauty.

  • Treeman

    “Shotgun Stories” for me.

  • Kama

    The Addams Family?

    • Nzall

      exactly my idea, Kama. you can’t have a list of disfunctional families without the Addams family.

      • Nzall

        or wait, the list is “unusual families”. still same point.

        • Kama

          Hehe, cheers!

  • Arsnl

    Off the top of my head: War Zone, Nil by Mouth and a movie that I love Meantime. Some great non american movies. Like the old saying goes. La culture c’est comme la confiture. Moins on en a, plus on l’etale.
    And bonus i think should have went to South Park last episode.

  • CalHans

    As with some others I am surprised that The Royal Tenenbaums does not make an appearance, though I may be biased as it one of my favourite movies!

  • ScarletP

    the heart is decietful above all things could apply to this list also.

  • Damon

    In `Running with scissors` the gay character isn´t a son but a friend of the family.

    • S

      The gay character is the main character, and the writer of the book…

  • erzebet

    Running with scissors sucked!

    • s

      But the book is amazing

  • Jazzy

    The Godfather would have made a nice extra as well.

  • arisu

    I’m genuinely suprised you missed out ”house of 1000 corpses” & ”the devils rejects”!

  • lostsok

    Interesting list. Taste is subjective, but… I hated every movie on this list. That’s not the list-makers fault, and it’s not an indictment of those movies–I don’t like navel gazing, serious, existential dramas.

    Best movie about an unusual family: The World According To Garp (and even better book).

    • fudrick

      “I don’t like navel gazing, serious, existential dramas.”

      Have you even watched Step Brothers?

      Speaking of Step Brothers, Will Ferrell’s character is actually 39, not “40 something”

      • Ashley

        And his brother is also younger than him…

  • Armin Tamzarian

    For some foreign examples:

    – Tillsammans: about a small group of Swedish hippies living in a commune, in 1975.
    – Strange Bedfellows: Two Australian bachelors pretend to be homosexuals to reap the financial benefits. With Paul ‘Crocodile Dundee’ Hogan.
    – Tsotsi: A South-African thug accidentally steals a baby, and tries to raise it.
    – Schatjes: The children of the Dutch family Gisberts reach puberty and make life hell for their parents.
    – Komt een vrouw bij de dokter: After a Dutch bestseller. A woman is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and to cope her husband starts cheating on her big time.

  • Patio

    how is ‘little miss sunshine’ not one here?!

    • mjdolorico

      Yes, exactly! The family in Little Miss Sunshine is the very portrait of a dysfunctional American family. It’s one of the best and funniest family films I’ve ever seen. And to be honest, Little Miss Sunshine topped every movie on this list (with the exception of Brokeback Mt.) . Other families that I think would be worthy of inclusion: the criminal family in Animal Kingdom, Mickey Ward’s family in The Fighter, and yes, The Royal Tenenbaums.

    • Arsnl

      Yeah that might work, also what’s eating gilbert grape.

  • neil

    what about…..? KEN PARK? WE ARE WHAT WE ARE?

  • omg lemonade

    adams family?

  • Sid

    What about the devils rejects? If I ever saw a dysfunctional family….

    • Haha nice addition. They all loved each other though. And at the end of Devil’s Rejects, I was rooting for them, not the law enforcement. That nutty cop was the dysfunctional one.

  • Scott

    Todd Solondz’s “Happiness” makes these films look cheerful.

  • Ben

    I think this is the first time I guessed on something that should be on the list. I agree Royal Tenabaums belong on this list (in the top 3).

  • mynameis….

    I’d say Juno is a movie about an unusual family, I mean what parent names their kid Liberty Bell and allows their pregnant daughter to sneak off to see a much older man-who is adopting her baby..wierd if you might ask me.

    Toy story, definitely over analyzed….

    And I for one think having a nuclear family is the way it should be…let the controversy begin!

  • TonguePunchingFemaleFartBox

    The movie “People Under The Stairs” should have made this list!

  • jbjr

    The Royal Tenenbaums was the first one to jump to mind. How about What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. For some reason the Accidental Tourist comes to mind.

  • johnsampson

    I agree with the other poster that ?????????? (Dogtooth) should certainly be on here. I can only assume the author has not seen it

  • johnsampson

    Yes, absolutely. It reminds me of every-film-teacher-ever’s analysis of Alien. Not only is there really no indication of Andy struggling to cope without the presence of his father but the family could hardly be described as ‘dysfunctional’. They seemed to be coping quite well from where I was sitting

  • oouchan

    Surprised by the entries, but all really good choices. I full agree with all. Would have had The Addams Family as a bonus though. That is the original unusual family.

    Great list.

  • Fishmarauder

    Doesn’t The Simpsons Movie Count? Talk about dysfunctional…

  • Samzilla

    I second the What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? poster. I love, Love, LOVE that movie.

  • Armadillotron

    Henry VIII and his family on The Tudors?

  • oldirtykoala

    What about “Whats eating Gilbert Grape”.

    • oldirtykoala

      Damn beatin to it.

    • oldirtykoala

      Damn, beat to it. Had to study it in school, good movie.


    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre should have been #1, or at least on the list.

  • There is nothing brilliant about Running With Scissors. Nothing plausible ever happens in the movie, and every situation and every character are completely absurd. Supposedly based on a memoir, this stuff is obviously made up and/or exaggerated. If it were presented as fiction it would be idiotic but forgivable. Because it is true it asks us to care about these characters, something I could not bring myself to do.

  • George

    Ummm… Little Miss Sunshine? Not a single word about that? And I know this isn’t a movie, but the TV show Soap should have at least some recognition in the form of an honorable mention.

  • Sanja

    Where the heck is my big fat greek wedding? that movie defines my life. It really should be on here

    • Woyzeck

      It’s in your local Blockbuster’s bargain bucket.

      • FlameHorse

        They’re not out of business yet?

  • chris s

    I hate families, I hate movies about families, and I hate lists about movies about families.

    apart from that, good list.

  • salza

    where’s the adam’s family? That’s the first family that comes in to my mind when I saw this list…

  • bronco


  • Diego

    Cool list, I sort of missted Little Miss Sunshine though!

  • Lifeschool

    I would have gone with The Incredibles over Toy Story as a bonus, ‘cus they were an unusual family. There’s nothing ‘unusual’ about being in a one parent family- I WAS that kid, but I never had a sense of abandonment, around these parts thats just the Norm. Apart from that I haven’t see any of the others.

  • Elmorris

    I don’t want to be reiterative, but The Royal Tenenbaums should made it into the list.

  • Wiggin

    Royal Tenenbaums definitely should’ve been included, but I am so glad to see Running With Scissors here at all. And in the first spot! Burroughs’ story is just incredible — pick up the book if you loved the movie.

  • Scott

    The Royal Tenenbaums?

  • YouRang?

    I seem to have gotten sidetracked from UNUSUAL families to DYSFUNCTIONAL families.

    I wonder which tag would be more appropriate for “The Fantastic Four.” Even with all the in-fighting, they keep saving the world, and that seem pretty functional to me.

    • Battman

      Good one. At Close Range was a great movie and was also based on a true story. Walken’s character is truly twisted.

      • Battman

        Sorry, the above comment got dropped into the wrong spot. This comment was going to be something about The Incredibles.

  • toni

    if the family in the heart is deceitful above all things isn’t disfunctional, i dont know what is.

  • rex

    What about The Royal Tennenbaums!

  • Writing was needlessly convoluted, but otherwise, nice list. There could be dozens of follow up lists.

  • Htrain

    Honestly, this is one of the dumbest ideas for a list… Sorry but that’s just my opinion

  • g

    I am humbled by your ana_lysis of Toy Story. Here I thought all this time the single parent home was being glamorized in these movies. Your viewpoints just completely opened my eyes and mind to the central theme of the entire trilogy.

    • Arsnl

      Just wait til you see his colonoscopy for Cars 2

  • Randy Farts

    Running with scissors sucked. Also, in World’s Greatest Dad, I couldn’t wait for the kid to die. He sucked so bad.

  • Cdub

    What?! no Royal Tannenbaums? Blasphemy

  • Reanimate

    ..what no dogtooth?

  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

    • Crumbed Jutzes

      A bear.

  • Danilo

    No Texas chainsaw massacre???? That family is one of a kind

  • TheSwamper

    A decent list, but these types of movies never appeal to me. I live in the ordinary world, I like my fiction to be about extraordinary things; things that do not/can not happen in an ordinary life.

  • rallierf1

    Undieniable???????? :S I am 30…and i was focusing on the toys rather a deeper meaning :S
    eeeemmmm well it seems i am still a kid…

  • tim

    Pink Flamingoes.

  • demon

    what’s eating gilbert grape should have been on this list

    • I love that film – amazing acting all round.

  • jocone

    Uhm, Litlle Miss Sunshine, anyone?

  • The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. (2004)

    It offers a good look at the darker side of even the most “perfect” families.

    Based on a book written about the childhood of the author, JT Leroy. Truly of the most disturbing based-on-true-life movie I have ever seen.

    It’s about a little boy that goes from place to place dealing with abuse and neglect from various caregivers, his mom’s boyfriends and her crazy lifestyle.

    There are quite a few famous people in it too like: *Cole and Dylan Sprouse (yes the ones from Disney), Peter Fonda, John Robbinson (Lords of Dogtown), Marilyn Manson, Michael Pitt and Winona Ryder (uncredited)


  • gav

    Aside from those mentioned and contributed:
    Cousin Eddie’s family in “Vacation”
    The Blumes (“Rushmore”)
    The Justices (Smokey and the Bandit)
    The Griners (Deliverance)

    And I disagree with the Addams Family. They are probably the least dysfunctional family I’ve seen. Parents who love and respect their children- and vice-versa?

    • flgh

      So is this list about unusual families or dysfunctional families? If it’s about unusual families then Addams Family belongs here, if not no. 1. If it’s about dysfunctional families then where’s Family Guy?

  • CQSteve

    At Close Range should have been in the list, esecially since it was based on the true story of the Johnston family. what’s more dysfunctional than raping your sons’ girlfriend, killing another son and having one of your boys testify against you in court?

  • Alex G

    Little Miss Sunshine should have been on this list.

  • Shank

    Little Miss Sunshine, perhaps?

  • Gayleduh

    Napoleon Dynamite! truly a “out there” family.

  • Bassbait

    Ok, I’m not only surprised, but RELIEVED to not find The Royal Tenenbaums on here. Because I hated that movie. The family was plain unlikeable.

    Meanwhile, “unusual families” works best for TV shows. And at that, I suggest Arrested Development and Malcolm in the Middle for two of the best “unusual families”. Although I admit MOST families are unusual. I wish you knew my friend’s family, where his parents do nothing but swear at each other and spite each other, and my friend himself is really calm and nice and never swears, but him and his dad are both always checking ladies out as if they’d go after the first person they see. It’s just bizarre in general.

  • Blue

    Joe Dirt, that’s all I have to say.

  • camchams

    Still watching this in our French lessons after French exams just finished , but what about What’s Eating Gilbert Grape ?

  • mom424

    Very excellent list – so much better than I anticipated. Some off beat movies I”m just going to have to check out. Very nicely written, researched and well presented. Good job!

  • hahahahhah

    addam’s family anyone?

    • Truth-Monger

      This list is about movies. The Addams Family movies are based on t.v. series, which in turn is based on a comic.

      • MeDan

        The Charles Addams cartoons in the New Yorker came first. Then there was the television show. Then came the comic. Then came the two Addams Family movies. Since this is a list of movies about unusual families, I guess they qualify.

        I’m surprised at the votes for Little Miss Sunshine. Was that family really unusual?

  • decaf

    no little miss sunshine? that was a great movie with a definite dysfunctional family

  • john

    no royal tenenbaums? for shame…

  • Melanie

    This is the worst list on the entire site. I don’t know if it’s poorly researched or if the author was stoned when he watched most of these flicks, but it’s… it’s so, so bad. In almost every possible way. For shame. I hope I never have to meet this guy in person – or interact with him in any capacity.

    • Truth-Monger

      OH NO…But he REALLY wants to meet you…

  • yishai4121

    How could you forget the Adams’ Family!? How!?! lol…

  • Dani

    Haha, Visitor Q from Takashi Miike. Those who seen it, you know.

  • bob`

    Helloo!!1 Little Miss Sunshine?????

  • Joboo

    Good list and a lot of good suggestions. A slightly more obscure movie would be “The Krays” … a fact-based movie about twin mobsters in 1960s London and their mum. It stars twin brothers from the 80s band Spandau Ballet in the lead roles (which is kind of weird in itself). Good movie.

  • bluesky

    ken park

    • Tink


  • Courtney

    I know it’s really independent, but I cannot BELIEVE The Secret Life of Objects got left off of here – a girl jealous of her catatonic older brother, a boy in a sexual relationship with a Barbie doll and two budding 11-year-old lesbians (one of whom is played by Kristen Stewart)? Unusual and AMAZING

  • noc

    What about The Virgin Suicides?? should have been nr. 1 on that list

  • James

    How about the Great Santini?

  • Crazygeek

    oh my god, how could you miss devils rejects? i mean c’mon man

  • Sig_Limone

    I’ve once seen a movie called “sit com”, that was a truly disfunctional family.

  • Fry

    I think The Royal Tenenbaums deserves to be on here

  • indie_skies

    The Dreamers?

  • Karen

    Hm, what about the Royal Tenembaums?

  • Sardondi

    This list is so very sad. These aren’t simple “unusual” families – they’re badly and painfully broken families. “Unusual” families are found in movies like You Can’t Take It with You, Life With Father, Sometimes A Great Notion, Yours, Mine and Ours and With Six You Get Eggroll. The families in this list are broken by drugs and alcohol, mental illness, spiritual emptiness or simple selfishness and lack of common decency. Or in the case of the “comedies”, a degree of idiocy unknown in nature.

    This list is sad because it’s being put out to many who won’t know the difference. They’re too young to have ever gotten anything from Hollywood but cynical and ironic perversions of the American family. Why would Hollywood bother putting out movies which mock or falsely portray the majority of American families? Because Hollywood hates and fears the American middle class, which it hasn’t understood for 40 years. Hollywood movies about family life don’t accurately portray the average American family: they portray the average Hollywood family. Plus they like to jack up the drama and pain to add what in Americn movies passes for poignancy. Who else but someone with a pathologicas view of families would try to pass off a wretchedly painful film like The Royal Tenenbaums as a “comedy”?

    I feel so sorry for those so young they think this is the truth.

  • JC

    too much of this crap is western centric…. how about Taste of Tea or Visitor Q?

  • bobby lee

    terrible list? Where are The Royal Tenenbaums, The Godfather, The Addams Family (joke)>?

  • I miss Little Miss Sunshine and the drug addict Grandpa, the suicidal uncle, the mute brother, the weird father…

  • Other suggestions:

    Unstrung Heroes

    My Life as a Dog

    The Cement Garden


    The Chumscrubber

    Visitor Q

    Spanking the Monkey

    And a trio of documentaries for good measure:

    Brother’s Keeper


    The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia

    • Kayla Palmer

      the wild and wonderful whites of west virginia was hilarious but deeply disturbing.

  • Simone Figeroux

    Ummm, good list, but the very first film that came to mind for me was “Four Brothers”! A bit violent and obscene, but quite a family! :-D

  • matt

    Where is Texas Chainsaw Massacre?? Or Dogtooth?? Or like a gazillion other better movies!!!

  • Cornell Dupis

    Where is National Lampoon’s Vacation!?

  • Sputnik


  • Mason

    No Royal Tenenbaums?

  • Kayla Palmer

    Im so happy running with scissors was number one. I kept waiting to come across it when I was reading the list. It was really weird and kind of unsettling to watch. Esp. when Augusten tries to fake a suicide. Great list!

  • Lloroncita

    House of Yes. Incest. Jackie-O/JFK obsession/reenactments. Etc. Etc.

  • Samara

    “Grey Gardens” could have been on this list, also. I know that it’s technically a documentary, but still. Plus, they remade it into an HBO movie recently with Drew Barrymore.

    I agree with others that “The Royal Tennenbaums” was severly overlooked, as was “Happiness”.

    • Samara

      *Tenenbaums, rather.

      Also, “Little Miss Sunshine” and “I Am Sam” would have fit with this list as well.
      “Little Miss Sunshine” for the reasons that phaneendrakumar mentioned already, and “I Am Sam” for the portrayal of a mentally retarded single father raising his young daughter.

  • koalakittens

    I thought the Squid and the Whale was great. Jeff Daniels is absolutely perfect in his role. But, while there are families in Brokeback Mountain, it isn’t really about a family. It’s about a couple. I really liked World’s Greatest Dad, American Beauty, and Running With Scissors. And although I thought Precious was kind of exploitative emotionally as a film, it definitely deserves placement on this list.

    As for the “what-abouts?” I’m not arguing these should have been on the list instead, but they would make good additions, in my opinion.

    Little Miss Sunshine

    The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (it’s a documentary)

    Fish Tank

    Napoleon Dynamite

    The Fighter

    Capturing the Friedmans (another documentary)

    You, Me, and Everyone We Know


    White Oleander

    Winter’s Bone

    Nobody Knows

    And Sega mentioned the Greek film Dogtooth. It absolutely should be #1. If you have seen it, whether or not you liked it, you would probably agree. I thought it was excellent. It’s incredibly artsy and weird and foreign, so I wouldn’t recommend it to you if you hate that type of thing.

  • Caroline

    LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE! I can’t believe it didn’t make the list.

  • thephilomath1201

    i was extremely surprised not to see The Hotel New Hampshire make the list. that was an odd fim indeed.

  • Brandi



  • Andrea

    Little Miss Sunshine???

  • Kimberly31

    What about white oleander? I know it wasn’t super popular
    But it was interesting & I loved the book. Self-absorbed mother (who treated her daughter more like a friend), kills boyfriend, daughter has no father… Ends up
    Tossed from foster home to foster home, still desperate
    For her moms love and approval. Very emotional, & dark

  • Two Omissions, 1). “The Virgin Suicides” and 2). “Little Miss Sunshine”

  • g

    When I first saw the title of this article I was like, “If ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ isn’t on here, I am going to be so pissed!” . . . and now I’m pissed.

  • Furkan Al-Shhminie

    ”Lymelife” new and very good.

  • The family from Hotel New Hampshire didn’t make it? Are you kidding!?!?

  • Hunter

    The Addam’s Family and Texas Chainsaw Massacre

  • petet2112

    The Omission of “Little Miss Sunshine” is a travesty beyond measure !!!!