Thanksgiving Break: time to catch up on the sleep you lost during that all-nighter, eat food that was not prepared in a microwave, and spend awkward dinners with your extended family who you rarely see. Hi Grandma, no, I am not in high school anymore. No, I do not have a boyfriend. No, I do not know why. Thank you. Wait a minute, what do you mean I have gotten so pretty? What was I before?
If your extended family is anything like mine, you are used to the game of twenty questions and the forced conversation that comes with sitting next to the cousin you only know through Facebook. Families in movies are similar, though you may not have a father named Royal who fakes having cancer to get back into the house, but still…embrace the eccentricities of your family this year, and try not to take Grandma’s “compliments” too seriously.
1. The Vuillards in A Christmas Tale
The Vuillard’s Christmas gathering has wine, cigarettes, and searching for a bone marrow donor for the matriarch Junon. It may sound like the makings for a dreary sentimental film, but Arnaud Desplechin’s erratic Christmas tale is anything but. It is the first time the family has been reunited since Junon’s son, Henri was banned from visiting by his sister Elizabeth. Throw in a cousin in love with his sister-in-law, a schizophrenic nephew, and twins that believe there is a wolf named Anatole living in the basement and you have a family so strange it could be your own.
2. The Stones in The Family Stone
The Family Stone is a lot like A Christmas Tale in that they both contain essentially the same ingredients: an ailing mother, a family of mixed-up characters reuniting for the holidays, and enough awkward moments to stuff a turkey. The tone of The Family Stone is much more a modern-day Frank Capra tale and may even lead you to shed a few tears. The mismatched Stones are wacky but in the end devoted to one another, and held together by the love of their mother, played by Diane Keaton.
3. The Portokaloses in My Big Fat Greek Wedding
When it first hit theaters, My Big Fat Greek Wedding made audiences laugh and cringe at the overbearing antics of Toula’s family. The film was a box office hit, grossing more than 60 times its original budget worldwide. The portrayal of Toula’s Greek family was relatable for many. Whether Jewish, Italian, or any other ethnic minority, we all saw some characteristic from our own families on the screen when we gathered in the theaters.
4. The Tenenbaums in The Royal Tenenbaums
On 111 Archer Ave. lived three gifted siblings. The eldest Richie was a tennis prodigy. The adopted middle child Margot was a published playwright. The youngest Chas was a math and business genius. The success they found in their youth quickly faded after their father Royal, left home. Twenty-two years later when he is kicked out of the hotel he has been living in, Royal attempts to make his way back into his family’s lives by pretending he has cancer. What results is an absurdist take on a broken family done only the way that Wes Anderson can, with methodical cinematography and The Velvet Underground humming through the background.
5. The Weasleys in the Harry Potter films
When Harry befriended Ron, the Weasleys became a second family to him. He no longer had to endure the Dursleys ill treatment, and had a place to sleep that was bigger than a cupboard. Not only there to kiss him on the forehead and hand him a glass of butterbeer, the Weasleys risked their lives for Harry in the battle of Hogwarts. Molly Weasley showed that she can do more than make rock cakes when she stood up to Bellatrix Lestrange and fiercely exclaimed, “Not my daughter, you bitch.”
6. Marion’s family in 2 Days in Paris
Marion takes her American boyfriend Jack to stay with her family in Paris on the way back from their trip through Italy. The language barrier is just the start of what makes this weekend memorable. Marion’s father owns an art gallery filled with erotic art and has no qualms about showing it to his daughter’s boyfriend while loudly screeching “cunnilingus” to a room full of patrons. Her mother talks in broken English about having orgies with Jim Morrison.
7. The Bennets in Pride and Prejudice
Like most mothers during that time, Mrs. Bennet saw her purpose in life to be finding suitable husbands for her children. She went to many extremes to secure the future of her daughters, and her antics sometimes sent the potential bachelors running from Longbourne. Mr. Bennet passively watched as his wife made a fool of herself, but, when Mrs. Bennet demands that Elizabeth marry her cousin Mr. Collins, or she will never speak to her again, he fires back coming to Elizabeth’s side claiming he will do the same if she does marry him.
8. Paul, Jonathan, and Mirko in Dans Paris
Paul returns to live with his brother and father after splitting up with his longtime partner Anna. Drowning in despair, Paul spends the week of Christmas in his underwear in bed listening to Kim Wilde and replaying the details of his breakup. Jonathan runs through the streets of Paris looking for women to fool around with and ignoring the pain that still lingers from the death of his sister. At first ignoring Paul’s sadness and allowing him to live out his depression in peace, Jonathan ultimately comes to his side, and the two help each other heal their emotional wounds.
9. The Cullens in the Twilight movies
Oh Twilight, the tale of an odd and painful to watch romance between a pale, sullen girl and a vampire that sparkles. Let’s not forget the wolf that falls in love with the daughter of the girl he once pined for. With all of the twisted love triangle dynamics taking center stage, we often forget the best part of the films, the Cullens: a gypsy family of traveling vampires that moves from one city to the next and collects enough high school diplomas to fill up a wall. Oh, and the kids are all basically foster vampires living with the man who turned them into bloodsuckers, because he felt guilty about the whole turning them into monsters thing.
10. The Hoovers in Little Miss Sunshine
Sheryl is overworked and, yes Grandpa tonight for dinner it is going to be the “fucking fried chicken” once again. Did we mention Grandpa just got kicked out of the retirement home for selling heroin? Sheryl’s brother Frank just moved in after a failed suicide attempt. Her son refuses to speak. Her husband is on a rampage to become a motivational speaker. Yet, they all come together to help her daughter Olive compete in a beauty pageant, despite the fact she does not have a shot in hell of winning.