From Cinda: The holidays are on their way! I associate holidays with family coming together. Do you have a favorite family movie? Does it happen to involve a holiday or not? Some of my favorite movie families are shown without any holidays involved. I also love a few traditional (and not so traditional) Christmas movies with the family being the focal point. Here are some movies with great families even if they didn’t start off that way.
Anything with the Addams Family | Creator: Charles Addams (1938+)
Recommendation: Perhaps my favorite family of all time. It doesn’t matter if you are reading the original comic strip (1938) or watching the John Astin-lead TV show (1964) or Raúl Juliá’s (1991) version of Gomez in the movies or even the animated cartoons (1972, 1973, & 1992) or the New Addams Family show (1998) or the most recent animated movies (2019 & 2021). The family is exemplary in accepting one another, supporting each other’s interests, fulfilling the roles of protector, mentor, guide, and nurturer – sometimes even cheerleader. Oh, there might be a slight competitive ferocity between the siblings, but that’s siblings for you. Nothing is more heart-warming than the security of a healthy home life with family that loves you. I especially love the intergenerational levels of connection (Granny, Uncle Fester, Cousin Itt) and the adoptive or found family that’s been added (Lurch, Thing).
The Sound of Music – 1965
Recommendation: The Von Trapp family is sans one mom from the beginning, added to before the end of the movie with the man’s second marriage, bringing in a governess as the children’s stepmother. Much like Julie Andrews’ foray as Mary Poppins, her character is the outsider who instigates change (for the better) within a hurt and wounded family, especially concentrated on the improvement of the father figure (played by a yummy Christopher Plummer) who has to find his way back to childhood, to what being a child feels like, to understand his kids. He is otherwise dismissive, curt, and expects obedience just like in the military – yet as he changes, his heart expands, he finds beauty in poetry and music, and the secrets come out. He’s loyal to his country and doesn’t want to abandon his proud military career, but he’s solidly against working with the Nazi regime and would rather escape his beloved country of Austria with his impoverished but intact family rather than serve Germany with riches and fame. Talk about an example of extremes – this dad had a lot on his plate.
A Christmas Story – 1983
Recommendation: The title of A Christmas Story makes it sound like it should only be watched during the Christmas season – this is a falsity and you may enjoy the progression of the Parker family’s drama at any point of the year. Old Man Parker is both benevolent ruler and menacing curmudgeon. Mom is an over-harried, underappreciated homemaker with subversive tendencies. The blend of brothers and schoolmates (and bullies), friendly one-upmanship with the neighbors, desire for unattainable goals (the love of a teacher and a Red Ryder BB gun), and the imaginative fantasies of young Ralphie coalesce to make a hilarious romp of adventure.
Christmas with the Kranks – 2004
Recommendation: Then there’s Christmas with the Kranks (based on Skipping Christmas by John Grisham)… a very different kind of supportive family. He’s disinclined to the outrageous spending he calculates every Christmas costs them; she’s feeling the empty space left by their daughter’s trip to Peru as she joined the Peace Corps and could use an exciting, romantic distraction. He talks her into ‘skipping Christmas’ by avoiding any purchases or commitments due to the holiday and will end up saving money on a Caribbean cruise instead, departing on Christmas Day. They work for a month to achieve this goal, ducking from neighbors with anxious questions, avoiding invitations, and causing general mayhem all around town. Their daughter is the only thing more important to them both, so when she surprises them with unanticipated news, they dutifully suck up their pride and (at great expense) attempt to pass off the holiday as a cheery welcome home for Blair. No one in the family is perfect, and yet they are wholesome and kind (even to the rotten neighbor).
The Muppet Movie – 1979 | Starring found family (and innumerable Muppets of infinite creation/style)
Recommendation: Now, I’d like to mention a vastly different situation – that of the Muppets. When friends get together for their common interests and work as a team to reach a goal and they build experiences and impressions on other people about their ability to get along, that’s a successful ‘found family’. They may not be blood related (not even the same species!), but the kindness and advice from any patriarch might sound like the words left by the genius Jim Henson through Kermit’s lines: “I have a dream too, but it’s about singing and dancing and making people happy. It’s the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And I found a whole group of friends who have the same dream, and that makes us sort of like a family.” Found family is just as powerful (and irritating) as related family in some cases.