22 Family Movies Not To Watch With Your Family On Thanksgiving

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Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

Kramer Vs. Kramer

This is the quintessential divorce movie. It’s literally right there in the title that we’re gonna see some fighting, and it’s probably not gonna be pretty. Ted and Joanna Kramer (played by Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep) have a little boy together and are in a fairly unsatisfying marriage. But we only have to deal with that for a few minutes- Joanna leaves Ted at very beginning, proclaiming that she needs to find herself, and subsequently abandons her child to embark on a knowingly selfish quest for fulfillment. Throughout the film, we watch as Ted goes from an incompetent father to little Billy, who initially rejects his dad’s new involvement, to a doting and responsible pal to his son. All seems to be evening out, and the guys are learning to cope with their new reality….until Joanna returns 15 months later, asking for full custody.

From an objective perspective, and also with over 35 years of progress on our side, this is actually insane. There’s no way this lady could take off, totally abandoning all responsibility, just to return, ask for a takesies-backsies, and have the court rule in her favor. But guess what? It’s the 70’s, and that’s exactly what goddamn happens. Ted’s custody of Billy is ripped away in a courtroom battle during which both he and Joanna are torn apart by each other’s lawyers. The court’s decision is reached mostly on the basis of the belief that “a child is best off with his mother.” Mmmmm, okay??? After the ruling, Ted learns that if he wants to appeal the case, he must have Billy testify. Unwilling to pointedly pit their son against his wife, he refuses, and must accept the result of the custody agreement. BUT WAIT! Because Joanna is a ~modern woman~, who merely thought she was supposed to want only motherhood out of life but actually realizes she doesn’t, she shows up on the day she’s supposed to take Billy and tells Ted that she knows he’ll take better care of him than she could. All’s well that ends well. Except for Joanna, kind of.

Especially avoid if: Conflict makes you tense, especially conflict in the context of fighting parents. If your parents are divorced, this movie will probably bring up all kinds of junk for you about your relationships with each of your parents individually. It’ll also make you pretty sad just thinking about how hard it must’ve been for them to split, knowing your little well-being was at stake, and maybe even feel a bit guilty that you were smack dab in the middle of it all (even though it wasn’t your fault. Probably).