10 Holiday Movies That Make Your Family Seem Normal

Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 12:29 am

We like to put up quality guest posts from time to time, and that’s where this list of 10 Holiday Movies That Make Your Family Seem Normal comes in. It was prepared by the good people at Best Colleges Online, and, while it may have nothing to do with enrolling at a university, it’s still an entertaining read from start to finish. So dive right in and get some ideas for your next visit to Netflix.

And speaking of Netflix, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention their policy of no late fees and library of over 100,000 movies. Multiple subscription plans are available, and your selections are delivered right to your mailbox by those cheerful folks from the Unites States Postal Service. If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, click here to become a Netflix member today.

Now onto our list of 10 Holiday Movies That Make Your Family Seem Normal:

Three things are certain in this life: death, taxes, and holiday stress. November and December bring with them annual obligations and visits to extended family that always wind up making everyone uncomfortable (at best) or depressed (at worst). The only comfort to be taken in the holiday season is that fake families are even more messed up than yours. The movies below draw from Thanksgiving and Christmas stories–each holiday comes with its own special awkwardness–and are guaranteed to make you appreciate how normal your family really is after you see how unhappy, socially inept, or just plain crazy these cinematic families can be. So whether you’re a beleaguered patriarch or college student home for the holidays, take heart: it could be worse.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Holiday road trips are an inevitable part of the season for many people forced to go to great lengths just to get home to see their family. Be thankful that you don’t have to put up with anyone like Neal (Steve Martin) or Del (John Candy) when you’re traveling or after you’ve arrived. Yes, by the end of the movie, Neal’s a lot more tolerable, and Del’s grating personality has been pulled back to reveal a sad-sack beneath, but the bulk of the film is spent in the presence of two pretty abrasive guys who seem determined to make Thanksgiving travel as miserable as possible. No matter how bad your uncle is, you don’t have to spoon with him.

Pieces of April: A great but overlooked film from 2003, Pieces of April takes the regular family drama of Thanksgiving and cranks it to 11: Katie Holmes plays April, a young woman in New York who tries to organize a holiday dinner for her family, including a mother dying of breast cancer. Her plans hit a wall when she realizes her oven is broken, and it’s up to her friends and neighbors to save the day. An engaging film, but also a reminder that most people are lucky enough not to have to deal with such confusion and chaos.

Home for the Holidays: Jodie Foster’s 1995 film is revolves around an extended family getting together for a Thanksgiving meal that’s primed for arguments from the start: members of different generations snipe about personal choices, conservatives and progressives butt heads with abandon, and everyone admits to loving each other without always liking each other. In other words, it’s an American Thanksgiving, just more frenetic and charged than real life.

The Ice Storm: Katie Holmes seems to have a thing for horrible Thanksgivings: she plays a supporting role in The Ice Storm, Ang Lee’s adaptation of Rick Moody’s depressing observation of suburban America in 1973. The Hood and Caver families are models of unhappiness, caught in bubbles of longing, despair, and infidelity as they try to inject some kind of feeling back into their lives. The one character moment of happiness and reflection is cut short by a tragic death. I bet this makes an afternoon at your grandma’s house sound a lot better than you thought.

The House of Yes: Mood swings, personality disorders, and incest: nothing like Thanksgiving to bring out the best in people, right? The House of Yes is a dark comedy so dark that it would be better to label it a drama with fleeting humor. Parker Posey gives a bracing performance as Jacqueline, aka Jackie-O, whose obsession with the JFK assassination threatens to derail the holiday as her brother brings home his new and unsuspecting girlfriend. Things only get rougher from there.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: The Vacation series has always been a bit hit-and-miss (recasting the kids every time makes for some weird continuity gaps), but Christmas Vacation remains a holiday classic for its devotion to all-out insanity. Clark feels beat down and mistreated by his boss, his kids are bratty, his wife is two-dimensional, and his extended family is so annoying you will wish for a flood to wash them away. The movie is one to be survived, and it’ll make your own familial woes seem trite.

Four Christmases: Continuing the modern tradition of mistaking discomfort and hatred for comedy, Four Christmases follows a couple (Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon) as they reluctantly trek between multiple locations in order to visit all their divorced and remarried parents in one day. Because that’s what Christmas should be about, right? Cramming all your visits into one day so you can get back to partying? Nothing in the film really rings true, and it’s mainly an excuse for Vaughn to get hit in the head and chest repeatedly by children of all ages. It’ll make you pine for your own complicated life.

Home Alone: The extended McCallister family almost feels real: the random cousins, the blundering uncle, etc. But they’re level of self-involvement is off the charts. This is, after all, a movie about a family so ignorant of each other they don’t even notice one of their own is missing until they’re halfway to Paris. (Although the score is pretty classic.) Kevin’s hijinks are cartoonish and fun for kids, but at the heart of the movie is a family struggling not to be such jerks. Until you’ve been abandoned on vacation, things aren’t that bad.

While You Were Sleeping: Sandra Bullock stars in this easy romantic-comedy from 1995 about a woman who saves a man’s life and winds up inserting herself into his life when he gets amnesia. (It’s cute, though, and not at all stalker-like.) The family is mostly crazy but harmless, anchored by a grandmother played by Glynnis Johns. They’re a lot to take, but in a good way.

A Christmas Story: The Christmas classic, and a staple of cable programming come December. Ralphie’s boyhood desire for a BB gun is almost thwarted by his off-kilter family, including a cantankerous dad who buys a lamp shaped like a leg and a younger brother prone to spoiling everything. It’s a wonder the hero makes it to Christmas. With parents like these, who needs enemies?

That wraps up our look at 10 Holiday Movies That Make Your Family Seem Normal. Thanks again to Best Colleges Online¬†for sending it our way, and be sure to show your appreciation by checking out their website. If you’re keen on visiting websites, you might also want to consider Netflix, as it’s the nation’s leading online source for movie rentals. We do get a commission if you become a member, but it adds nothing to your final price and allows us to afford a few meager gifts for the holiday season. Keeping that in mind, click here and join Netflix today.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 18th, 2010 at 12:29 am and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “10 Holiday Movies That Make Your Family Seem Normal”

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November 25, 2010


None of these are streaming… The’re all on DVD how does that help me now?

November 28, 2010


It doesn’t. You’re totally screwed.

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