There’s nothing better than watching a movie with a family so dysfunctional you begin to feel a little bit better about your own crazy relatives. Luckily for us, dysfunctional families are a staple in Hollywood plotlines. With no shortage of movies to pick from, we somehow managed to pick 10 that will make you laugh, cry, or both—there’s even one that is sure to scare. Hopefully, you manage to find a film to watch on our list of the best dysfunctional family movies, but if we’re missing one of your favorites, be sure to share it in the comments below.
Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)
A Steve Martin classic, Cheaper by the Dozen is about as dysfunctional as it gets. With twelve children to handle, Tom (Martin) and Kate Baker (Bonnie Hunt) definitely have their hands full. It’s made even worse due to the fact that they’re all moving to a new house due to Tom’s new job, something the kids definitely don’t approve of. To make matters worse, Kate leaves to go on a national book tour to promote it, leaving Tom to deal with twelve children by himself. As you can imagine, pure chaos ensues. A sequel was released two years later if you’re interested in seeing more of the dysfunctional Baker family.
We’re the Millers (2013)
This 2013 comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter, Jason Sudeikis, and Emma Roberts isn’t about an actual family but a rag-tag group forced to pose as a family on vacation as they try to smuggle drugs across the Mexican border. David (Sudeikis) hires a stripper, Rose (Anniston), promising to pay her if she pretends to be his wife. Likewise, he also offers Casey (Roberts) a small amount of cash to pretend to be his daughter while Kenny (Poulter) tags along for the heck of it. As they travel and endure hardship after hardship, they slowly begin to grow together as a family—a dysfunctional one, but still a family nonetheless.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Wes Anderson directs this masterpiece, starring Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and more. Like all Wes Anderson films, it’s an ensemble cast packed with big names. The film revolves around three siblings who experienced great success in their youth but were unable to repeat it after becoming adults. When their father reenters their life after having left in their youth, their lives are turned upside down—especially when his claims about dying from cancer are put to the test.
Knives Out (2019)
Another ensemble cast that features Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, and other big names, Knives Out is a great example of a dysfunctional family movie. You know it’s dysfunctional when a grandson starts pointing at individual family members and telling them to “eat shit.”
After Marta (Armas) accidentally kills the patriarch of the Thrombey family, Harlan (Christopher Plummer), a renowned detective named Benoit Blanc (Craig), is called in to get to the bottom of it. The family could care less about their grandfather’s death and the investigation, as they’re all there to see who gets his massive fortune—which was left to Marta. There’s nothing quite like a fight over inheritance to bring out the dysfunction in a family. Knives Out is a great detective film but also an amazing comedy about a wildly flawed family.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)
Nothing says dysfunctional quite like a daughter trying to kill her mother and end the universe at the same time. When Everything Everywhere All at Once hit the screen in 2022, it took the world by storm, instantly becoming the most critically acclaimed movie of the year. Praised for its absurdity, family drama, and surrealness, EEAAO is a must-see film, especially if you’re looking for a movie about a dysfunctional family. It stars Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, and Ke Huy Quan, among others. Just do yourself a favor and watch the film that won the most awards of all time.
If you need a little teaser to get interested, EEAAO is hard to explain, but at its core is about Evelyn Quan Wang (Yeoh), who is being audited by the IRS. Her husband is thinking of divorcing her, and she has a strained relationship with her daughter, Joy (Hsu), because she is a lesbian. While being audited, Evelyn learns that parallel universes exist, and she must jump through them in order to prevent a powerful being from destroying the multiverse—Joy. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, to say the least.
Step Brothers (2008)
For a movie that got mixed reviews upon release, there are way too many people out there who can quote lines from Step Brothers off the top of their heads, probably because it’s now considered one of the best comedies of the 2000s. Starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as two 40-year-old grown babies, they are forced to become stepbrothers after their parents (Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen) get married.
Tensions are high in their household as neither wants anything to do with the other initially. That is until they learn that they have similar interests and suddenly become a nightmare duo for their parents. It doesn’t get more dysfunctional than two grown men acting like teenage boys, especially when one tries to bury the other alive for putting his family jewels on the other’s drumset.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Praised for its screenplay and humor, Little Miss Sunshine is a hidden gem that not enough people know about. Starring Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, and Alan Arkin as members of the Hoover family, the film follows them as they’re taking their youngest child to a beauty pageant. Their vehicle of choice is an unreliable Volkswagen van with way too many miles on it. Like every dysfunctional family road trip, everything that can go wrong does, ranging from a horn that honks on its own to a heroin overdose. Little Miss Sunshine is a definite must-watch.
A classic from Danny DeVito, Matilda tells the story of an unwanted child born into a rotten family. Her father is a conman who sells cars that are guaranteed to break down, while her mother is a neglectful narcissist. Matilda (Mara Wilson) eventually finds some solace at school in Jennifer Honey’s (Embeth Davidtz) kindergarten class. Matilda also has secret telekinetic powers, which is slightly random and never explained. Besides avoiding her horrible family, she also has to avoid the gaze of the vile Agatha Trunchball (Pam Ferris), the principal of her school. Altogether, Matilda is a classic, feel-good movie that is timeless.
From the great (and twisted) mind of Ari Aster comes this horror film about a family that just can’t seem to catch a break. Ranking high on the scale of dysfunction, the Graham family is unexpectedly tossed into a world of continual grief after their grandmother passes away. Annie (Tori Collette) is at a loss along with the rest of her family, but as strange things begin happening and she finds out the truth about her mother, well, sometimes you’re set on a path there’s no turning back from. With just a budget of $10 million, Ari Aster managed to make one of the best horror movies of the 2010s.
Meet the Parents (2000)
Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro go head-to-head in this rom-com from the turn of the century. Greg Focker (Stiller) is looking to get engaged to his longtime girlfriend, Pamela (Teri Polo), but before he does that, he needs the approval of her father (De Niro), who just so happens to be an ex-CIA operative who was in charge of interrogating double agents. Things continue to get worse for Greg as he spends the weekend at Teri’s parents’ house, from accidentally flooding the backyard with sewage to breaking a girl’s nose. Greg has a lot on his plate if he wants to get Jack’s ‘okay.’