Step Brothers. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Our Favorite Dysfunctional Family Comedies

Step Brothers. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.
Step Brothers. Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Nothing makes a movie work quite like a good conflict. As effective as it is to have conflict come from outside the inner circle, there’s also something to be said for when it comes from within the circle. 


Not every depiction of family is going to be wholesome. Just like in real life, there’s some cinematic families that are at each other’s throats, for lack of a better term. Some of the funniest comedy movies about family conflict features increasing dysfunction. 


In honor of Thanksgiving today, we felt that it’d be a good time to take a look back at some of our favorite family comedies surrounding dysfunctional families in movies. 

The Mitchell’s Vs. The Machines

The newest addition on our list, this 2021 animated family film follows the Mitchell family. They’re your standard, bickering family who have to come together to fight off robots that are trying to take over the road, while getting their daughter off to college. The film features an impressive voice cast including Danny McBride, Abbi Jacobson, Maya Rudolph, Eric Andre, and more.

Cheaper By The Dozen

Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt lead this remake of the 1960 classic Cheaper By The Dozen. In the film, Martin plays a college football coach who has to try and keep his family together and in one shape while his wife goes out of town on a book promotion tour. For anyone who’s grown up in a large family and knows what it’s like to fight with your siblings about the tiniest things, this is probably a story you can relate to.

Meet the Parents

This 2000 film sort of launched the mid-2000’s genre of comedies where the goofy guy has to meet the stern parents of his girlfriend or future wife. It’s a classic fish out of water story that finds Ben Stiller meeting his girlfriend’s dad for the first time, played by Robert De Niro.


He’s a no-nonsense former CIA agent who is suspect of everything that falls outside of his close circle of trust, including Stiller. This movie also kicked off De Niro’s presence in comedies that continued for the next decade to come.

Step Brothers

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly showed off how good their chemistry was in Talledega Nights. So it would make sense that they’d join forces again for a new movie.


This movie was Step Brothers. Directed by Adam McKay, it follows two 40 year-old slackers who still live with their single parents. When the parents decide to get married, it causes a rift that extends to the two unlikely brothers. This was peak Ferrell during his mid-2000’s takeover of all things comedy, and it remains one of his most memorable films.

We’re the Millers

Technically not a real family, but we’ll still include it.


We’re The Millers follows a drug dealer, a stripper, a homeless teenage girl, and a dorky teenage boy who team up to smuggle drugs in an RV from Mexico back to America. The unconventional setup leads to some of the film’s biggest laughs, and you can only imagine the sort of fighting that goes on when you’ve got so many people from different walks of life, throw them in a car together, and force them to be a loving family.

Little Miss Sunshine

Another fine example of a film based upon conflict. The film follows the Hoover family as they all cram inside their VW to travel to California for their youngest daughter’s dance competition. Throughout the course of the trip, everyone’s individual quirks are out on full display, and the film turns into an unpredictable dark comedy. It also showed us a more subdued side of Steve Carrell than we were used to seeing, as well as standout performances from Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin

The Royal Tenenbaums

Finally, we have the centerpiece of Wes Anderson’s cinematic universe, The Royal Tenenbaums. The film follows what happens when the family’s estranged patriarch, played by Gene Hackman, returns to find what his three genius children without him present. It’s a perfect demonstration of family arguments and dysfunctional dynamics, all rolled into the particular vision that Anderson has made a career out of perfecting.

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