Christmas Movies About Dysfunctional Families

Posted on December 13, 2023 at 5:09 pm

Copyright Universal 2016
We all love the sweet holiday movies with snowflakes gently falling on the upturned faces of happy families, where any conflict is minor enough to be resolved in 90 minutes and there are lots of hugs and cookies. But there are also a lot of holiday movies about dysfunctional families, some comic, some darkly comic, and some bittersweet. Here are some that may not be classic but are favorites for a lot of people.

“The Family Stone” and “Love the Coopers”
These two dysfunctional family perennials sometimes get mixed up because Diane Keaton plays the family mother and grandmother in both of them and both are about families that keep secrets, disappoint each other, get mad about disappointing each other, and get on each other’s nerves. In “The Family Stone,” Sarah Jessica Parker plays a woman who is spending Christmas with her brother’s family. In “Love the Coopers,” Olivia Wilde impulsively asks a solider she meets in the airport (Jake Lacy) to pretend to be her boyfriend. The most entertaining part of that film may be the chance to see very early appearances from big stars Timothee Chalamet and Molly Gordon.

“The Holly and the Ivy”

One of the earliest of the film in this genre is a 1952 British film about a clergyman whose adult children are all hiding secrets from him. The outstanding cast makes this a very touching story.

“The Ref”

The darkest comedy on this list has Denis Leary as a thief who takes a bickering couple (Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey) as hostages. They start to drive him crazy and then things really get out of hand when the family shows up, including Glynis Johns and Christine Baranski.

“Nothing Like the Holidays”

A Puerto Rican family is thrown into a tizzy when they get together at Christmas and the parents (Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena) announce they are getting a divorce.

Almost Christmas

A widower gathers his family for Christmas. They drive each other crazy, but — spoiler alert — it all works out. The terrific cast includes Danny Glover, Mo’Nique, Omar Epps, JB Smoove, Romany Malco, and John Michael Higgins.

“This Christmas”

A secret wife. A loan shark’s goons on the trail. A sleepover with Santa. A cheating husband. These are just a few of the issues that arise in a big California family celebrating the holidays. The terrific cast includes Loretta Devine. Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Lauren London, and Columbus Short.

Also: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Home Alone,” “Almost Christmas,” and this year’s “Family Switch”

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