Movies about "normal" and "average" families?
June 10, 2021 3:05 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for feel-good movies that have families that are very healthy and functional and open about their feelings in an idealistic way. The family doesn't really have to be the main part of the film, but should be significant - I'm thinking kind of like Easy A or perhaps something like the family in PBS's Arthur, although I'm not really looking for a TV show. It's okay if there's an ensemble cast with a dysfunctional portion as long as at least one family chunk is very healthy.

It's okay if there are conflicts and problems within the family, as long as there's a lot of love/connection anyways. I'm not really looking for something where the family is distant in a more noticeable way but are happier at the end, but if the movie is good I would still be interested (Little Miss Sunshine, Eighth Grade maybe?). Also, even though most family movies with this kind of dynamic are kids' movies (The Incredibles, Coco, Wonder, Love, Simon), I would still be open to movies that center around adults.
posted by mnc to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I just watched 20th Century Women, and even though it's kind of a 'chosen family' situation, I thought it was a lovely demonstration of a family.
posted by greta simone at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2021 [5 favorites]

Always found “Mr. Holland’s Opus” uplifting.
posted by Melismata at 3:39 PM on June 10, 2021

Off the beaten Hollywood path a bit, and definitely not a kids movie, but, Another Year is just delightful. Real people with real problems, but a deeply loving and committed marriage that carries them through.
posted by latkes at 3:40 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

My memory for plots is terrible but I want to say Little Women hits this spot, if you don’t need it to be contemporary.
posted by penguin pie at 3:54 PM on June 10, 2021 [10 favorites]

I hope I'm not remembering these wrong:

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Searching for Bobby Fisher
In America

I saw In America in the theater when it came out, and wasn't crazy about it, but when the lights came up, I saw that Chuck Schumer and his family were in the row in front of me, and they all sort of hugged, so warmed were their hearts.
posted by swheatie at 3:54 PM on June 10, 2021

I love the family in Poltergeist. They're entirely normal people with regular person interactions, and you see them show genuine affection for each other in the small moments. The ghost story is just a backdrop.

Schitt's Creek if you want tv.

The Birdcage

For couples without kids, Marge and Norm in Fargo and Melinda and Jim in Ghost Whisperer (TV).
posted by phunniemee at 4:03 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

A few that randomly come to mind...

Captain Fantastic
About Time
Mama Mia II (!)
posted by cotesdurhone at 4:07 PM on June 10, 2021

I just did a binge watch of the British TV series Friday Night Dinner, which recently ended a run of six (6-7 episode) seasons. The family squabbles a lot, especially the two grown sons, but it’s in the way that real families squabble, and you’re never left with the feeling that they don’t completely love each other (with the possible exception of Horrible Grandma). The best part, IMO, is that the family (like mine!) has its own collection of in-jokes that become running gags, so by the end of the first season you really feel like you’ve been invited into the family.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:15 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Try Juno. I seem to remember the Juno’s family was pretty normal and chill about the whole pregnant 16 year old situation (and who wouldn’t want a J.K. Simmons character for a dad?).
posted by lhauser at 4:30 PM on June 10, 2021 [8 favorites]

The sheriff's family in Jaws has always been one of my favorites. He talks to his wife, goofs around with his son. It's a small part of the movie, but I always liked it.
posted by gideonfrog at 4:56 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

These suggestions sound offbeat, but I remember these families being open and caring, though not ideal and not without conflict:
Donnie Darko
Our Idiot Brother (2011, Paul Rudd)
Obvious Child (2014, Jenny Slate)
posted by esoterrica at 4:58 PM on June 10, 2021

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a kid’s movie based on a book series, and is on the Little Miss Sunshine end of the spectrum in terms of “1. Dysfunction -> 2. PLOT STUFF -> 3. Function” scale, but I liked how it got there.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 5:02 PM on June 10, 2021

I Love You, Man
Mean Girls
Bridesmaids (the relationship between Annie and her mom)
The Addams Family
Dirty Dancing

Always found “Mr. Holland’s Opus” uplifting.
I have to disagree with this one. The main character is a total jerk to his Deaf son for much of the movie and sometimes his wife, and often distant.

posted by lunasol at 5:28 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Perhaps Father of the Bride - though I have only seen the 1991 one and many reviews say the original 1950s one is even more heartwarming.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:32 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Parenthood. All kinds of family issues in this movie, all resolved with happy endings, but lots of deep thought moments. I always enjoyed this movie.
posted by annieb at 5:39 PM on June 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

The Kids Are All Right
posted by nantucket at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2021

The Cheaper by the Dozen films?
posted by JJZByBffqU at 6:27 PM on June 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Apart from being cartoon elves (mostly), I love the central family unit in Onward.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:57 PM on June 10, 2021

The Australian movie The Castle (from 1997) is a fantastic film and fits your criteria very nicely.
posted by akk2014 at 7:09 PM on June 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

Paddington 2! (And probably the first Paddington as well, but I have only seen the second one.) Even though it's a kids movie, I found it enjoyable as an adult without children, and the main family members really care about each other.
posted by catabananza at 7:11 PM on June 10, 2021 [3 favorites]

Blockers? There's the over protective parents, the dad trying his best, they have normal enough relationships with their kids and the kids are more or less normal. It's a comedy and maybe split 50/50 between the kids and the parents.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:39 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

My Neighbor Totoro!
posted by farkleberry at 8:06 PM on June 10, 2021 [8 favorites]

Mitchells vs the Machines!
posted by wsquared at 8:11 PM on June 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

Love, Simon fits the bill.
posted by nancynickerson at 8:12 PM on June 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

I was going to say The Castle too. Perfect example of a close loving friendly family.
posted by Thella at 8:22 PM on June 10, 2021

I came in here to say Juno too. Remarkably chill handling of their daughter's teen pregnancy.
posted by potrzebie at 9:00 PM on June 10, 2021

Mitchells vs the Machines! very much.

Hearts Beat Loud
posted by furnace.heart at 9:28 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Summer hours maybe.
posted by rpn at 10:24 PM on June 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Snapper (1993) - Irish family deals [well] with not-quite-teen pregnancy. Possibly needs subtitles.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:24 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

The father-son relationship in Chef is delightful, and the way the father and mother are good co-parents in soite of being divorced is lovely to me. The family in Field of Dreams always felt very warm and loving to me.
posted by epj at 7:57 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

What about Boyhood? The bio parent couple are always pretty awesome with their kids even while shit is hitting the fan in other ways.
posted by MiraK at 8:16 AM on June 11, 2021 [4 favorites]

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and the sequels depict a happy, loving family though there is some very mild conflict mixed in.
posted by keep it under cover at 8:52 AM on June 11, 2021 [1 favorite]

If I remember correctly, The Big Sick has sweet and realistic family dynamics on both sides of the romantic relationship.
posted by stella1 at 2:34 PM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Breaking Away (1979) kinda stood out for Dave's family being realistic and understanding.
posted by ovvl at 3:59 PM on June 11, 2021

I just listened to Pop Culture Happy Hour's podcast on In the Heights (Rotten Tomatoes link) and I think this is exactly what you're looking for. It'll be the first movie I'm willing to see in a theater - but it's also streaming on HBO Max.
posted by kbar1 at 11:56 PM on June 11, 2021

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