Celebrate Thanksgiving With The 13 Best Movies About Families
In any normal year, Thanksgiving is a time for getting together with family to eat, drink, and, yes, give thanks. Of course, 2020 will be very different for many of us, but family remains at the heart of the day, even if some of those celebrations will be happening remotely this year. And what better to do after gorging on food with our loved ones than to watch some movies about other families?
There are of course many kids movies centered around families, while the emotional rollercoaster of dysfunctional households has fuelled great drama for decades. Sometimes family can be a close, loving, positive thing, and sometimes it can be a toxic environment that's destructive to everyone in it. There are also movies that are initially about something else, but in which the importance of family becomes a driving theme.
We've rounded up some of our favorite movies about families. Some of these films are about iconic and inspiring cinematic families, while others are less obvious choices that don't always show the family in a positive light. But they all illustrate how the dynamics of the family unit can make for great cinema, and might even help us look at our own families in a different way. And once you've read this, you can continue the cinematic Thanksgiving celebrations with our look at the best feast scenes in film.
13. Ant-Man and The Wasp
The second installment of the Ant-Man franchise might be the MCU's best look at family, which could be a little ironic depending on what you took away from the first Ant-Man film, which featured Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) basically screwing up every relationship he had over and over again. This time around, however, Scott is less in the business of accidentally (or intentionally) burning bridges and more about repairing them, both for himself and for the people around him. There are lovely, and hilarious, reunions here, fantastic father-daughter moments, and even some great found family friendships.--M. Downey
The appeal of the Buckman family in Ron Howard's much-loved 1989 comedy Parenthood comes from how recognizable their life is for so many parents. There are no surprise twists or unlikely plot developments, just day-to-day ups-and-downs, as Gil and Karen Buckman (Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen) bring up four kids under the watchful eye of Gil's stern father. The movie inspired two TV versions, the most recent running for six seasons until 2015.
Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids movies gave us an entire family of spies. Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino) are international agents who have kept their jobs secret from their children Carmen and Juni. But when they are captured by villains, the kids have to quickly learn on the job to save them. These films were important in that they presented a Latino family in a mainstream kids movie--something Rodriguez had to fight for--and the director puts as much emphasis on the love and support of a close family as he does on cool gadgets and exciting action.
10. Uncle Buck
Buck Russell (John Candy) is the unemployed, hard-living, and generally irresponsible brother to Bob Russell, a normal, sensible suburban husband and dad. But when Bob's wife Cindy discovers her father has had a heart attack, Buck is called in at short notice to look after their three kids. As anyone who has seen John Hughes' classic comedy knows, Buck might be a disaster as an adult, but he's a brilliant uncle, sparking an immediate friendship with 8-year-old Miles and even warming the heart of moody teenager Tia. Buck is the uncle we wish we all had.
Steven Spielberg's movies of the '70s and early '80s often focused on family units facing stress in extraordinary situations, such as the marriage collapse in Close Encounters and the struggles of a single mom in ET: The Extra Terrestrial. In Poltergeist, which Spielberg wrote and maybe directed, Steve and Diane Freeling must deal with the abduction of their young daughter Carol Anne by unseen spectral forces. It's impossible not to root for the couple as they struggle to support their two other kids while dealing with the ghostly assault on their home.
8. The Royal Tenenbaums
The Tenenbaums are the extremely dysfunctional family in Wes Anderson's acclaimed comedy drama. Headed by the eccentric Royal, three kids--Chas, Richie, and Margot--initially showed great promise in their respective fields (business, writing, and tennis) but few of these dreams have amounted to much in adult life. From infidelity to attempted suicide, the Tenenbaums aren't a family you'd want to be part of, but in Anderson's hands, its great fun watching them fall apart and come back together.
7. The Incredibles
Pixar combined the superhero movie with the family film for this classic animated adventure. Despite their amazing powers, Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible are a believable, flawed, sympathetic mom and dad trying to do their best for their kids. Admittedly, most parents don't have to deal with an insane supervillain genius trying to kill them, but the everyday aspects of their suburban life are every bit as important as the fantastic superhero action. It also confirmed Craig T. Nelson as one of Hollywood's favorite movie dads, having also played the loveable father in Poltergeist and the Parenthood TV show.
Bong Joon-ho's Oscar-winning South Korean satire follows the Kim family, who leave a life of poverty by infiltrating the wealthy Park family and posing as highly qualified professionals. The Kims are hardly a model of good behavior, and inevitably their wild scheme eventually falls bloodily apart. But they show great resourcefulness and stick together when the going gets tough, and unlike the uptight Parks, know how to have fun.
5. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson's first claymation film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, is just as quirky and unusual as his live-action work, if not more--and that's what makes it, well, pretty fantastic. The story of both a literal family (the Foxes) and the family they've found in their large community of fellow animals, Fantastic Mr. Fox deals with the expectations we set for each other, living up to the legacies passed down to us, and of course, eating tons and tons of food with absolutely wild abandon. This is one for all ages, all year round, but it's especially perfect for the autumn with its gorgeous, fall-leaves color palette and warm, kind-hearted storytelling.--M. Downey
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Perhaps the most famous family in horror, the Sawyers are the terrifying Texan cannibal clan in Tobe Hooper's 1974 scary masterpiece. Like many aspiring American families, they run a small business--a gas station--and had steady jobs (in the local abattoir) before it was shut down. They love having guests over to their house too, making them the perfect family to sit down with on Thanksgiving--as long as you don't mind being served up as dinner.
3. Little Women
Louisa May Alcott's story of the March sisters has been retold on screen many times over the decades, and as the success of Greta Gerwig's superb 2019 adaptation showed, it continues to find new fans. It's easy to see why--in Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy, Alcott created four very distinct, independent, inspiring characters that still resonate today. Little Women reveals the harsh realities of life in 19th century America, as mom Margaret tries to keep the family warm and fed while their dad fights in the Civil War, but also shows how the family supports each other throughout.
2. The Fast & Furious movies
Say what you will about blood-related relatives, there's more than one kind of family. To Dominic Toretto, his family members are the people with whom he pulls off ridiculous world-saving plots around the world, as if they're the Avengers of street racing. These are the people he counts on when his back is against the wall, and he would drop everything to help then in any way he can. Family is what's most important to Dom and, while the roster may change from film to film--please come back The Rock--family is forever in Fast & Furious, even when you supposedly die like Han. -- Chris E. Hayner
1. The Addams Family
The Addams family is one of the most famous households in American pop culture, and for all the spooky darkness of their lives, one of the happiest. The family was created by cartoonist Charles Addams in the 1930s, but it was the '60s TV show that really established their personalities, with the hit '90s movies bringing the lives of Gomez, Morticia, Fester, Wednesday, and Pugsley to a newer generation. Gomez and Morticia are as in love as the day they first met, care deeply for their kids, and are friendly to their neighbours and any visitors they have. Sure, those visitors are usually terrified by the spooky house and the macabre interests of its owners, but in most other respects, the Addams are the model family.