12 Dysfunctional-Family Movies To Watch This Weekend

Arielle Dachille

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Ah, Thanksgiving: the designated holiday for all of your family foibles to rear their pesky little heads. In spite of the fact that you obviously love your family, they can be a serious handful around the holidays in an environment of forced interaction. From the aunt who asks leading (single-shaming?) questions about your love life, to your horrifically politically-incorrect grandfather, this holiday can really underscore the dysfunction in any family.

Luckily, there’s a world of entertainment available at your fingertips to help provide some common ground and distraction. Hooray! Amid the thousands of films available to stream on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, you can find ample fitting entertainment for you and your motley crew of blood-related weirdos for the holiday. After all, is there any better way to distract yourself from your own family’s quirks than to throw yourself into someone else’s? Nope!

In that spirit, we’ve rounded up 12 movies from dramas, to documentaries, to dramedies, that follow  dysfunctional families just like your own. The best part of it? They’re all streaming right now. Thanks, technology!

The Birdcage

When the Miami owner of a drag cabaret, Robin Williams, finds out that his son has gotten engaged to the daughter of a notorious right-wing politician, they hatch a scheme to masquerade as a conservative family when they meet the in-laws. Meeting the in-laws doesn’t get more insane than in this madcap comedy of errors starring a host of greats: Nathan Lane, Robin Williams, Gene Hackman and Dianne Wiest. Head over to Netflix to watch!


If you didn’t get a chance to see this multiple Oscar-nominated movie in theaters last year, you should change that now because this movie is a recent Netflix acquisition! This offbeat tale chronicles the road-trip of an alcoholic father, Bruce Dern, and his reluctant son, Will Forte, to collect his lottery winnings. It’s as poignant as it is hilarious.

The Kids Are Alright

Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo star in this critically-acclaimed comedy that follows a truly modern family. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably seen it a thousand times, but it never gets old. This baby is a Netflix jam.

The Queen of Versailles

Follow the real-life riches-to-rags story of Jackie Siegel, the wife of a multimillionaire time-share magnate who lost everything in the 2008 financial crisis. Beyond exploring the tolls of building her excessive house, nicknamed Versailles, this acclaimed documentary gives you a glimpse into Siegel raising her bonkers family of eigh kids. Not quite Duggar-level, but still intense. It’s on Netflix, guys: you already know.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

With an obese mother and a developmentally-disabled younger brother, the oldest son of a Midwestern family (played by Johnny Depp) is forced into an early maturity by being the primary caretaker of his family. If anyone from your family doesn’t enjoy this bittersweet dramedy, that cycles between hilarious and heartbreaking, feel free to excommunicate them forever. Hit up Netflix for this joint.

Rachel Getting Married

Do you have a complicated relationship with your sister? Both of you should watch this movie together if you haven’t already, because it’s currently on Netflix. Anne Hathaway stars as the troubled daughter of a family, attending sister Rosemarie DeWitt’s nuptials. Tensions run high, family wounds are split open as the fraught dynamic between a black sheep, a star child, and a pair of flawed parents is explored.

Our Idiot Brother

Keep things light with this ensemble comedy starring Paul Rudd as the unflappably cheerful slacker brother of a comedian (Zooey Deschanel), a journalist (Elizabeth Banks), and a stay-at-home-mom (Emily Mortimer). Special appearances are made by the main character’s adorable golden retriever, who is sure to capture the hearts of the most steely families. This one’s available on Netflix.

Grey Gardens

One of the perks of having a Hulu subscription is having the Criterion Collection movies available at your fingertips. Just in case you aren’t familiar with this seminal documentary, it follows the meanderings of mother and daughter Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier, the aunt and cousin of Jackie O. Little Edie and Big Edie fight constantly over the most minuscule things, but for all of their grotesque behavior, they keep each other alive.

The Darjeeling Limited

If you’ve got HBO Go, this indie staple is a must-watch this weekend. For all the self-conscious quirkiness of this Wes Anderson flick, it deftly captures the dueling forces of alienation and comfort in situations of forced closeness. Plus, the soundtrack is beyond fantastic.

The Big Chill

This ‘80s classic is about a group of college friends, a neat riff on the traditional extended family that you’re probably hanging with this holiday. Reuniting after the death of a member of this close-knit group, an ensemble cast of Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, William Hurt, and many more, laughs, cries, and explores the value of friendship and human connection. A true classic that’s worth the price of the Amazon Prim subscription you’ll need to watch it.

Riding in Cars With Boys

This movie (which was always playing on ABC Family circa 2005, amirite?!) may not have been a critical success, but it explores the complex nature of parenthood. Drew Barrymore, a promising teen who gets pregnant in high school, tries to be the best mom she can to her child without compromising her own goals. She makes plenty of mistakes, but she does the best she can! On Netflix.

The Virgin Suicides 

Screen this dysfunctional family film with caution if you’re working with a fragile audience: the reasoning for this is in the title. Things don’t get more dysfunctional than the Lisbon family dynamic of four preachers’ daughters (including one Kristen Dunst) enacting their simultaneous sexual liberations while their authoritarian parents try to coop them up. Plus, Josh Hartnett appears in a mint-colored ’70s prom suit. On Netflix.