Thanksgiving is a time of family and togetherness, a topic Hollywood loves to explore. But for every film that warms your heart and makes you glad to see your own family — Little Miss Sunshine; the underrated Jeff, Who Lives At Home; Waitress — there is another family ensemble movie that’s so bad, it spikes your anxiety about family gatherings and causes you to reconsider the whole thing. Excluding crime-family movies like The Godfather or Eastern Promises, here are some supposedly feel-good family movies that make you wish your family was the mob.
The Family Stone
This painfully unfunny, unromantic, trite rom com — culture clashes of liberal vs conservative! Zany hijinks with sibling-switching love interests! — will make you second-guess any proposal plans you might have this holiday season, it’s that cringe-inducing.
This “comedy,” starring Jack Black and Michael Cera as two dim-witted hunter-gatherers who go on a Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure style romp through Biblical terrain, is decidedly un-excellent. Go with Bill and Ted instead. Hell, go with Passion of the Christ for a biblical adventure — you’d probably get more laughs.
August: Osage County
Even Meryl Streep, who collects three Oscars before breakfast on an average Sunday, can’t save this turkey of a movie that’s laden with Benedict Cumberbatch’s appalling Southern accent, Julia Robert’s terrifying manic smile, and a tedious, limping plot. If your family has an ailing matriarch, this will give you anything but the warm-fuzzies about her. Also, like The Family Stone, Dermot Mulroney is in this movie, so perhaps his congenial presence is the secret kiss of death.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
A nineteen year gap between films and all you have to show for it is Shia LaBeouf as a long-lost son? That’s enough to make anyone want to skip reunions with long-lost relatives. Even the Harry Potter franchise, which doesn’t have the best track record with nineteen-year gaps, does it better. Harrison Ford and Indy can both do better. Shame on you, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.
This Is Where I Leave You
This movie is based on a hilarious novel and boats an all-star cast that includes the likes of Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, and Timothy Olyphant. It’s not actually a bad movie, but its mixture of trite and boringly forgettable is inexcusable, considering the material and cast it’s working with. This film makes the list only because it squanders a good thing.
Age of Adaline
You’d think Gossip Girl suffering from a kind of Benjamin Button syndrome while being in a love triangle with Harrison Ford and Daario from Game of Thrones would be entertaining, instead of forgettable. You’d also think you’d root for her to be with Daario because her age difference with Harrison Ford makes it weird. You’d be wrong on both counts. Like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, any movie that shuts down the idea of Harrison Ford being awesome is not a keeper.
The moral of the story — because what are painful family movies for but wrapping up with an obvious moral? — seems to be that you should avoid any movie that includes Dermot Mulroney being congenially inoffensive. Also, don’t shaft Harrison Ford. If you can keep these tidbits of wisdom in mind, you can get through this holiday season with your viewing intact.