Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Family Matters: A look at families in film

Every two years, my husband’s family has a reunion. Several generations attend and it gives everyone a chance to reconnect and even to meet family members whom they’ve never met before. While my husband and I were celebrating this year’s reunion in Prince Edward Island, Canada, I found myself thinking about movies about family. The best movies show various family dynamics and resonate with audiences when people can relate to the characters and to the situations they face, and recognize aspects of their own families in them.

There are many great movies about family. Below are a few notable mentions:

The Godfather

Largely viewed as the one of the best films ever made, The Godfather is a crime saga about the head of a Mafia family and his sons, the youngest of whom reluctantly assumes his father’s role as Don, leads the family into a new era of organized crime, and seeks revenge upon those who tried to eliminate them.

The Kids Are All Right

A smart, heartwarming story about the kids of a same-sex couple conceived by artificial insemination and about how their family is affected when they search for and find their biological father.


Paul Thomas Anderson’s patchwork of a film with a series of different characters whose stories are interconnected and laden with serious family issues like abuse, estrangement, alienation, infidelity, remorse and terminal illness.

National Lampoon’s Vacation Series

I couldn’t help but think of the Griswolds when writing about families in film. They’re the quirky, yet close-knit, loving family whose luck goes sour when they attempt to make plans for family holidays and vacations. No Christmas season is complete without at least one viewing of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Father of the Bride

It’s the sweet story of George and Nina Banks, two parents who go above and beyond to give their daughter the perfect wedding, and how hard it is for them to face the fact that their little girl is all grown up and leaving home.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This is a movie near and dear to my heart because my mother is Greek and I’ve been to a few big, fat Greek weddings in my lifetime. This film is about Toula, a young Greek woman who falls in love with Ian, a non-Greek man, and the obstacles they face before walking down the aisle like gaining the acceptance of Toula’s father who always hoped Toula would marry a nice Greek boy, Ian’s struggle to be embraced by Toula’s large family and how he deals with being thrust into the Greek culture.

What are your favourite movies about family? Let us know in the comments section.


  1. My favorite one? Most certainly The Godfather.

  2. American History X does some interesting stuff with families.

    Hannah and Her Sisters comes to mine - sister bond.

    and of course "The Godfather"

  3. I loved the mother/son dynamic in White Heat (James Cagney and Margaret Wycherly), incredibly intense love minus all of the Oedipal baggage that gets loaded on. The intense evolutionary cycle as child rearing treatment of Animal Kingdom is also terrifyingly plausible considering the world they live in.

    On the comedy side, I loved the family in Easy A and while it's horribly overrated, the family in Donnie Darko is uniquely supportive.

    Love the shout-outs for Magnolia and My Big Fat Greek wedding.

  4. @Lime(tte) - The Godfather is definitely a superior film in many regards, and with regards to family, it's quite remarkable in how it depicts the fierce loyalty and protection the Corleone's have for each other and how there is nothing they won't do for one another.

    @Duke - American History X is an interesting one. I'll have to give that another viewing and focus on the family aspect.

    @Andrew - I've never seen White Heat, but will certainly check it out.

    Easy A is a great film and the scenes with the family are so wonderfully funny and the ease and comfort with which Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson and Emma Stone interact with each other is very reminiscent of a real family.


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