Five Most Dysfunctional Families in Movies

Opening this week at Actors Playhouse, August: Osage County, tells the tale of the Westons, a large family that is forced to come together after their booze-hound patriarch up and disappears. Meanwhile, their the 65-year old matriarch pops pills, and confronts the family with their dark and astonishing secrets in her antidepressants-and-narcotics-addled states. Family dysfunction of the highest order? You bet! In honor of their psychotic family, here is our list of top five dysfunctional families on film. And you thought your own mishpocha was mental.

1. The Corleones (The Godfather saga): They're the ultimate movie family. They're also pretty damn dysfunctional. The patriarch Vito admittedly spoils his children. The daughter is a brat with terrible taste in men, the eldest son is a hothead, the middle son is not all that smart, and the youngest son decides to throw away his college education and forgoes becoming a lawyer and instead becomes a notorious crime boss himself. Oh and he eventually ends up ordering the murder of his own brother. Yes, Fredo was weak and stupid, but did you really have to whack him, Mike?

2. The Tenenbaums (The Royal Tenenbaums): Royal Tenenbaum is one messed up dad. He steals money from his math-genius son, Chas, whom he also shoots with a BB gun. He's openly critical of his adopted daughter, Margot. He favors his youngest son Richie to the point where he excludes the other children in their activities. He abandons his family, and then fakes having stomach cancer to get back into their good graces. Meanwhile, Richie, fresh off a mental breakdown, is madly in love with Margot, Chas is a paranoid overprotective father, and their childhood friend, Eli, is basically always around and is a famous drug addicted novelist. And then there's that poor dog, Buckley.

3. The McDunnoughs (Raising Arizona): H.I. is an ex-convict, Edwina is a cop, and they can't have a baby due to Edwina's insides being a rocky place where H.I.'s seed can find no purchase. Furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona and his wife just gave birth to quintuplets. So H.I. and Edwina decide to steal one of them, seeing how the Arizona's had more than they could handle anyway. Then there's H.I.'s pals, escaped convicts Gale and Evelle, who are like brothers to H.I., but really are a bigger problem than anything else. H.I. goes through the same challenge all new dads face -- the late night diaper run. Only he holds up the store with a pantyhose over his head instead of paying for them.

4. The Burnhams (American Beauty): The Burnhams seem like the perfect family. Lester, played by Kevin Spacey, is the perfect husband and father. Likewise, Carolyn is the perfect wife and mother. But Lester is suffering from a serious mid-life crisis, and Carolyn is cheating on him with her own business rival. Their daughter, Jane, meanwhile, has taken to showing her boobs through the window to the videotaping, drug-dealing boy next door, whom she is in love with. On top of all that, Lester has become infatuated with Jane's lusty schoolgirl friend Angela. He has dreams where rose petals rain down on her naked teenage body. Creepy!

5. The Chasseurs (The Ref): Gus, played by Denis Leary, is a fearless cat burglar who runs into the wrong couple on Christmas Eve as he's trying to escape from the cops. The Chasseurs are a Connecticut couple with serious issues. Lloyd, played by Kevin Spacey, is depressed. His wife, Caroline, had an affair (what is it with Kevin Spacey and his cheating movie wives?), and their son Jesse is constantly getting into trouble. Gus forces them to take him to their home where he ties them up to use as hostages. But Lloyd's domineering mother and his brother's family are coming over for Christmas dinner. Gus is forced to act like a marriage councilor to fool Lloyd's family. But he soon discovers what a horrible bunch of people these are and loses it as only Denis Leary can.

August: Osage County opened last night at the Actors' Playhouse (280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables) and runs through April 3. Weeknights and matinees tickets are $42 Friday and Saturday evenings are $50. Call 305-444-9293 for tickets. Visit

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