Ode to Dysfunction

Ah, Thanksgiving. A time to gather with loved ones and honor our fair nation’s dubious proud heritage. Whether the people you’re lucky enough to call blood kin are overbearing busybodies, self-medicating nut jobs, or just plain Republicans, it’s good to remember that things could be worse. After you escape, watch one of these movies and count your blessings:

1. Arsenic and Old Lace

arsenic.jpgCary Grant’s uncle thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, which is not so bad. One crazy person in a family can be dealt with. Except that, as it turns out, there might be only one sane person in this family, since the sweet little old aunts have been killing men and burying them in the cellar and a long-lost brother is about to turn up with similar murderous intentions. This movie is truly manic, and so, so, so funny.

2. Yours, Mine, and Ours

The 1968 version, not the dreck from 2005. Henry Fonda has 10 kids, Lucille Ball has 8. Hey, maybe they should get married and then get knocked up with number 19! I especially love the sequence when Henry Fonda’s kids first meet their stepmom-to-be, and proceed to spike her drink so that she ends up shit-faced but has no idea why she’s acting like such an idiot. Charmers, those kids.

3. Hannah and Her Sisters

My favorite Woody Allen movie. The Thanksgiving holiday actually plays a key part in this film, making it extra appropriate for the day. Michael Caine is married to Mia Farrow but in love with her sister, and that’s just one of many complicated situations facing the highly neurotic members of this family in this perfectly bittersweet movie.

4. The House of Yes

house-of-yes.jpgTakes place entirely on a fateful Thanksgiving night and the morning after, when the prodigal son of an upper-crust Washington family of wackos stupidly decides that it’d be a good idea to bring his fiancee to dinner. Too bad they’ve never had a house guest before, his brother’s one step up from a Chia Pet on the intelligence scale, and his sister thinks she’s Jackie O. Also, there might be some incest going on. Parker Posey is fantastic as Jackie, but this ends up being about as black as black comedy gets.

5. Junebug

junebug.jpgAmy Adams got an Oscar nomination for her part as a sweet, naive, and deperate young pregnant wife who is fascinated by her big-city sister-in-law, and who says things like “God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way.” Her husband is a jerk, her mother- and father-in-law are unapproachable, and her brother-in-law has no idea how to reconcile his country family with his new, glamourous wife. No one in this family knows how to talk to each other, but what they don’t say makes for a beautiful film.

Your family looks better already, huh? Merry Thanksgiving.

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1 Response to “Ode to Dysfunction”


  1. 1 patty November 21, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    have you seen eulogy?? maybe you should make your list go to 10….


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