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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]

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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