by David Christopher Bell
It’s one thing when a series is based around several generations who are actively seeking adventure – treasure hunting and Nazi-punching and all that. That’s not what we’re here to discuss. Don’t expect to see any Corleones on this list, either.
This is about those hapless, generally well-functioning families in films who for one reason or another keep falling into bad times. These are the families that trouble follows.
These are the truly unlucky ones.
8. The McAllister Family from Home Alone
The McAllisters are one of those functional dysfunctional families. The kind that you see at Wal-mart having screaming matches over soda, but who band together in vicious retaliation the moment someone tells them to keep the noise down. It’s the bonding through screaming technique of a family that, deep down, really does love each other. After all, every time Kevin gets left behind they fall apart, despite their best efforts to act strong.
So what are the odds that they lose their kid twice in a freaking row like this? Both times are caused by oversleeping-induced panic mixed with ridiculous coincidences – and in some staggering coincidence, both involve the same goddamn villains. Think about that. The first movie takes place in Chicago and the second in New York – and both times Kevin ends up taking on Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. It’s like God has some really specific plan for these people that failed the first time around.
7. The Myers Clan from Halloween
You know, every family has that black sheep, a weird uncle or mooching son or something like that. You could say Michael Myers is kind of like that black sheep in that he killed his whole family before breaking out of an institution and is now determined to kill every living relative he has. Also he’s invincible.
Come on now. It’s one thing to have a sicko in the fam, but it’s just rotten luck that the sicko also happens to be unkillable. And if that isn’t bad enough, yet another Myers family member goes nuts in the fourth film! Remember Jamie, the little girl who starts killing her family with scissors a la the first Halloween? What the hell? What kind of demon genes are these people spreading here?
You think that when we finally catch up to Laurie in H20 that the last thing she’d ever do is have a kid, and yet she does. Why would she breed? You’d have to watch that little shit 24/7 to make sure he didn’t go all stabby on you.
6. The McFlys
So let’s take time travel completely out of the equation. Actually no, let’s talk about the time travel, because it literally takes going back in time and screwing around to make this family even remotely lucky – and even then it only sticks with the one generation of McFlys. By BTTF 2 Marty is deep in poverty and fired from his job, his kids are getting arrested left and right, which isn’t a new family tradition in the least.
Even his ancestors were kicked around, and all from the same generation of Tannens. Mad Dog to Biff to Griff, who the hell is mating with these guys anyway? Why do they hate the McFlys so much? It’s been going on for like a hundred years!
The end of the third film tries to give us hope by showing us that Marty doesn’t hit that Rolls-Royce and so the future isn’t written yet and he might not grow up to be a loser – but considering the long streak of poverty and jail time so far, it isn’t looking too good. At least he has the power of love on his side.
5. Katie and Kristi’s Family in Paranormal Activity
It’s hard to know who to feel bad for here: Katie and Kristi’s husbands for marrying into a haunted demon family or the sisters themselves for marrying ridiculously dense half-wits.
There’s a lot going on with this family. From what I can gather from the third film, the grandmother made some strange pact with a demon in exchange for the next born male of their bloodline. Seems reasonable. Then she goes and has a daughter, who then goes and has two more daughters and things get a bit unfortunate. Now this demon dude is just hanging out in their house, reading magazines and knocking shit over for fun.
It’s not hard to see it from this demon’s side of things actually. Go watch the first film and think about how hard it must have been to deal with that Micah dude day in and day out. That guy sucked, if I had to live with him I’d start dragging people down the halls as well.
4. Frodo and Bilbo Baggins
I know that they live in a whole different world than us, but still – every problem these two have revolves around jewelry. As Boromir puts it, “It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing.” Which is a nice way of saying, “I can’t believe this shit. It’s a ring.”
So much walking and fighting over an evil mood ring that makes people invisible. Frodo has to wake up every day and remember that this stupid thing hanging around his neck wasn’t just part of some idiotic dream he just had.
Even worse is that the ring is only really the superficial issue here. The big issue is that this family of Baggins’ biggest enemy happens to be their good friend. Had these guys never been introduced to Gandalf then none of this would have happened – but unfortunately this grey-haired eccentric keeps showing up with another wacky adventure. He’s like the Doc Brown of Middle-Earth.
Can you imagine trying to go through life with a wizard always showing up at your door with fireworks and pipe weed? You’d never get anything done.
3. The McClanes
Talk about the wrong place at the wrong time. This is a case where one person is so amazingly unlucky that it draws in the people around him as well – those people being his family. Let’s go down the list…
In Die Hard, Officer McClane is just visiting his wife who happens to work in a building that holds $640m in bearer bonds that happen to be coveted by a group of thieves that just happen to be trying to steal the bonds that night with a plan that just happens to be ridiculously elaborate. Then in the second film McClane is picking his wife up at an airport that just happens to be the subject of a hijacking. These films just love coincidences. Die Hard 4 is no different, with John getting thrown into a bad situation by pure chance, this time dragging along his poor daughter and not Holly.
Out of all these films, Die Hard With A Vengeance is the only one where McClane is actually targeted by the bad guy from the start, and the only film where John’s family doesn’t get sucked into things. And apparently the new one is going to have his son as a character as well – so things are once again not looking great for the McClanes and their grizzled, blood-covered cop pop.
2. The Brody Family
When you think about long-going family curses, alcoholism and insanity usually come to mind. Both of which happen to be things that the Brody family do have issues with. They are a pretty surly pack of neurotic New England inebriates for sure, but your family would be too if they kept getting attacked by a killer great white shark.
Why sharks? Did their great-great grandfather steal Poseidon’s trident or something?
It’s not even a coincidence like the McClanes; these sharks are specifically going after them, as we see in the fourth film when the shark actually travels down to the tropics to go eat some Brody. Do they all smell like fish or something? What’s the deal here? How long has this been going on? How long will it continue to happen?
Is this a family of sharks that are going after them? That would make this a long-going family feud where one half just happens to be a family of great white sharks. That’s the most sense this situation can make.
1. The Griswolds
Do I even need to explain why they are number one? The Griswolds have this amazing combination of desperation for happiness with a complete inability to find it that makes them the perfect unlucky family. While every movie ends with the world righting itself, it’s only after they go through the worst trials possible to get there – not to mention the fact that it all starts over again the next vacation they go on. It’s like the whole family died and are in hell but just don’t know it.
Lord only knows what will happen to the Griswold family in the next film. Oh yeah – there’s a new film. It’s set to shoot in spring and stars Ed Helms as a grown up Rusty Griswold taking his own family on what will no doubt be a trouble-filled vacation, once more showing just how cursed this family is.
I gotta say – if I had to go with anyone new to play the father role in a Vacation film, Helms would be on the top of my list. As much as it pains me to say, I’m really excited for this film. What can I say? There’s just something really warming about watching a family stick together, even when the deck is stacked ridiculously against them.
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