From ‘Dogtooth’ to ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ Document compiles the movies with the most despicable on-screen relatives, to give you some perspective this holiday season
Holiday heart attacks are not folklore imagined to justify the dread we feel around annual family obligations. A study conducted by the American Heart Association’s Circulation found that cardiac deaths are at their highest on December 25, second-highest on December 26, and third-highest on January 1. The restricted blood flow caused by winter weather doesn’t explain this phenomenon in its entirety, as another report from the journal found that heart attacks happen at higher rates in December and January even under Los Angeles’s year-round sun—a finding further supported by a subsequent study conducted in New Zealand, whose December holidays coincide with its summer season. Most likely, it has been suggested, it’s that people choose to ignore symptoms of heart attacks while with family, in an unfortunately ironic attempt to not spoil the holiday mood.
It’s actually fairly implausible that your death will be the thing to break the faux joy of the festivities. Far more likely a cause is an eldritch uncle, or an otherwise-repellant relative—perhaps your own attitude, even, pushed to its boiling point by repeated sympathies offered for your lack of love life and faltering career potential. While your feelings may be just, sometimes all you need to get through this winter’s homecoming is a little perspective. Ahead of the holidays, Document offers a list of films featuring families more horrendous than your own—to help you find gratitude for the dullness of your bloodline’s deficiencies, or to remind those of you who will be spending the season away from your relatives exactly why it is that you are.
The psychological perversity in Dogtooth introduces a strange and truly psychotic branch of helicopter parenting. My mom’s incessant requests to track my location no longer seem all that intrusive.
This dinner scene alone is enough to convince me that there is a God, and he loves me (at least, enough not to place me in a family like this).
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (2022)
I wouldn’t suggest watching this with or anywhere near your relatives, as Emma Corrin’s latest endeavor might be the horniest movie to emerge since Call Me By Your Name. But it follows the trope of period pieces in which pragmatic people are really fucking annoying; if I had a sister and I landed a side piece like Jack O’Connell, I’d expect her full support in dumping my whiny husband for him. (PSA for my family: If I land a man who has even 10% of O’Connell’s sexual charisma and works with his hands before the holidays, I expect a fist bump from every last one of you.)
Magic Mike (2012)
Adam (Alex Pettyfer) has crazy abs, but for the sake of this exercise, abs don’t mean much. I’d prefer a brother with a flabby belly who doesn’t dump $10,000 on drugs the second things don’t go his way.
Raising Arizona (1987)
When convenience store robber Hi (Nicolas Cage) and police officer Ed (Holly Hunter) get together after she takes his mugshot, they learn they can’t conceive (infertility) or adopt (criminal record) children. The meet-cute that opens this rom-com quickly escalates into a surrealistic kidnapping crusade, which—to the extent of my knowledge—isn’t great grounds for starting a family.
Home Alone (1990)
The on-screen family of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is negligent, but the overwhelming ambition of the actor’s off-screen family is worse.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
It’s hard to imagine feeling sympathetic for two thirtysomething-year-old men who spend their free time freeloading at weddings, but even a girl like Rachel McAdams isn’t worth the constant come-ons from her character’s treacherous family.
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
While some kids struggle to live out the unfulfilled dreams of their parents, others will never live up to their father’s mini-me.
If you thought Danny DeVito as the dad in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was the premier portrayal of parental deficiency, his character in Matilda is somehow less competent and more aimless.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The next time you feel overwhelmed by the stench of your grandfather’s breath as he explains why restrictive gun laws will ruin the American economy, find a small piece of solace in the fact that he hasn’t asked you to commit crimes with his weapon of choice, and that the harm he might inflict upon others will most likely be “accidental.”
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
The tragic nature of this family is presented in comedic form, which makes them sympathetic—but I worry about the long-term implications of their behavior on their children. Plus, Dwayne (Paul Dano) reached record heights of pretension for a kid his age—something I imagine will only worsen as he inevitably pursues a philosophy major at an overpriced liberal arts school and starts reading David Foster Wallace.
Ordinary People (1980)
It’s easy to diagnose those close to you with narcissism, but Mary Tyler Moore masters an embodiment of it that might make you consider the harshness of your judgment.