Seven great moments in film family fighting.

Seven great moments in film family fighting. (photo)

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You know why there really aren’t that many movies about Thanksgiving? Because there’s nothing nice to say about it, that’s why. Thanksgiving is the day a bunch of people go to airports to have their flights delayed or snowed out, and when they do get home there are all kinds of relatives there you don’t really want to see and your mom wants to know when you’re going to get married and pop out those grandkids and then everyone gets drunk and yells at each other. Or so I hear. My family isn’t that extended.

Anyway. In honor of those of you who are home with your families today, here are seven clips from films celebrating the true meaning of familial togetherness. Which is to say, total abrasion:

The Darkos, “Donnie Darko” (2001)
Let’s start nice. The Darkos have their problems — daughter Elizabeth is planning on voting for Dukakis, dad Eddie thinks that’s a lousy idea, Donnie hasn’t been taking the meds that are supposed to keep him from burning down any more houses — but at least they can laugh at them when Elizabeth tells Donnie to “suck a fuck.” The family that eats delivery pizza together stays together.

The Larsons, “Home for the Holidays” (1995)
One of the few movies to tackle the whole ritual head-on, Jodie Foster’s second turn as director boasted the tagline “On the fourth Thursday in November, 84 million American families will gather together… And wonder why.” Daughter Claudia (Holly Hunter) just lost her job, son Tommy (Robert Downey Jr., doing straight-up RDJ) is hellbent on antagonizing sister Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson) and dad Henry (Charles Durning) is videotaping the whole mess for posterity. Before carving the turkey, Henry gives an inappropriate prayer in praise of “Thanksgiving, which really means something to us, even though — goddammit — we couldn’t tell you what.” I don’t know either.

The Vuillards, “A Christmas Tale” (2008)
Arnaud Desplechin does for French families what Wes Anderson does for American ones, just with greater savagery: in his very first movie, 1991’s “La Vie des Morts,” a daughter announces at the breakfast table that everyone hates their mother, and she’s not talking hypothetically. In 2004’s “Kings and Queen,” a seemingly loving father leaves his daughter a note from beyond the grave, telling her exactly what he thinks of her. But that’s nothing compared to “A Christmas Tale,” a full-on barrage of unconcealed animosity and spite. The clip below’s just a sample of what happens when the nicest thing a proudly anti-Semitic mom can call her son is “my little Jew”:

The Joyces, “Pretty Persuasion” (2005)
You don’t really need a whole family to make it awkward, of course: for true cattiness, all you really need is a teenage girl hostile to her new stepmother, especially if said stepmother is barely older than her and obviously a giant vapid target. In the strictest sense, this isn’t true dysfunction: paterfamilias James Woods is too busy delivering his anti-Semitic diatribe to notice his daughter is accusing her new “mom” of bestiality. Close enough though.

The Plantagenets, “The Lion in Winter” (1968)
To be honest, if I want to watch Katharine Hepburn being bitchy in a play adaptation, I’d rather go with 1973’s “A Delicate Balance,” where she goes all Edward Albee. But I couldn’t find a representative clip from that, so let’s stick with the mostly lousy “The Lion in Winter,” a movie which nonetheless has its vituperative highlights. It’s Christmas 1183 — apparently no easier on grown-up families then than now — and Henry II (Peter O’Toole) has just figured out that none of his sons really love him and all just want to inherit the kingdom. “You’re not mine! We’re not connected! I deny you!” he screams. It’s good as he delivers it, and even better if you imagine it in a Daniel Plainview voice.

The Slocumbs, “Igby Goes Down” (2002)
As close as we’re ever going to get to “Catcher on the Rye” on-screen (which is, you know, probably a good thing), “Igby Goes Down” is the story of an insufferably bratty, conceited great white hope (Kieran Culkin) who happens to also be pretty funny and correct in his brattiness. When Igby and family get together, bad things happen, whether it’s his godfather (Jeff Goldblum) punching him for sleeping with his mistress, describing his brother (Ryan Philippe) as a fascist, or his mom…well, better not to say, even though matricide is the first thing to happen in the movie. Oh, but it’s a comedy. And, as the clip below reminds us, it’s hardly the first time a Culkin brother has made a movie about families on edge:

The Tyrones, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (1962)
Of course, some families have problems beyond getting on each other’s nerves. Eugene O’Neill’s nerve-wracking play — so devastating he stipulated in his will that it wasn’t to be performed til 25 years after his death — is the cheery story of two sons (both alcoholics), a father (ditto) and mother (morphine) gathering for an average 1912 day to repeatedly rip each others’ failings apart. I suppose, all grumpiness aside, most families are a good thing; if you want to feel better about your family for real, this is the way to go.

[Photo: “Home for the Holidays,” MGM Home Entertainment, 1995]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.