There's something familiar about a lot of these "quirky" summer movies. I sense a theme is developing. Yes. That's right. It's time to celebrate unconventional families once again!

This summer, we get to see a chubby, 'fro-y suitor (John C. Reilly) try to win over his lady's hefty, 'fro-y, moody son (Jonah Hill) in 'Cyrus'. They appear to butt heads a lot, but undoubtedly the movie ends with what Jonathan Torrens has astutely identified as this particular genre's unavoidable, cliché speech at the end: The "We may not be your average family, but heck, we sure do love each other" speech. Torrens spotted the pattern while analyzing popular non-traditional family TV shows like 'Full House' and 'Facts of Life,' but it could easily extend to the silver screen, too.

Perhaps the most obvious non-traditional family flick this summer is 'The Kids Are All Right,' starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple who use a sperm donor to start a family. Their kids, played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, reach the age where they want to know where the other half of their DNA came from. So they hunt down daddy, who turns out to be some dude played by Mark Ruffalo. Confusing family drama and comedic moments ensue. But surely, it must all end with some sort of tearful speech. If it doesn't, I'll give someone $100.


There's something familiar about a lot of these "quirky" summer movies. I sense a theme is developing. Yes. That's right. It's time to celebrate unconventional families once again!

This summer, we get to see a chubby, 'fro-y suitor (John C. Reilly) try to win over his lady's hefty, 'fro-y, moody son (Jonah Hill) in 'Cyrus'. They appear to butt heads a lot, but undoubtedly the movie ends with what Jonathan Torrens has astutely identified as this particular genre's unavoidable, cliché speech at the end: The "We may not be your average family, but heck, we sure do love each other" speech. Torrens spotted the pattern while analyzing popular non-traditional family TV shows like 'Full House' and 'Facts of Life,' but it could easily extend to the silver screen, too.

Perhaps the most obvious non-traditional family flick this summer is 'The Kids Are All Right,' starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple who use a sperm donor to start a family. Their kids, played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, reach the age where they want to know where the other half of their DNA came from. So they hunt down daddy, who turns out to be some dude played by Mark Ruffalo. Confusing family drama and comedic moments ensue. But surely, it must all end with some sort of tearful speech. If it doesn't, I'll give someone $100.

The summer's line-up of non-traditional family flicks also includes 'Charlie St. Cloud', starring Zac Efron as Charlie, a young man overcome with grief by the death of his little bro, and 'The Switch', featuring Jennifer Aniston as a middle-aged single woman who impregnates herself with a turkey baster. Sound familiar? Probably because it sounds exactly like the plot of the J-Lo flick 'The Back-Up Plan' that came out earlier this year. Except J-Lo didn't use a turkey baster. She may be from the block, but she has standards.



Movies about non-traditional families are nothing new. We've seen the gamut of non-traditional options over the years: Families with single parents, families with pet aliens, families that adopt robots, families with gay parents, families with dead siblings, families whose members switch bodies with each other. Y'know, normal people stuff. To celebrate this latest round of non-traditional families, let us look back on five of the most memorable non-traditional family flicks.

1. 'Freaky Friday'. Technically, this isn't really a non-traditional family since it's comprised of the mom, dad and two kids. However, the fact that the mom and the daughter switch bodies seems pretty unconventional to me. Could it really get any weirder than that? Plus at the end the mom and daughter realize how much they underestimated each other. Awwww.

2. 'The Parent Trap'. No, I'm not just listing movies that have been remade starring Lindsay Lohan, although it probably looks that way, doesn't it? What can I say, she's top of mind these days. But really, you can't have a list about non-traditional movies without 'The Parent Trap'! It's about children of divorce scheming to reunite their parents, after all. And besides, it practically set the standard for the touching, mainstream non-traditional family genre.

3. 'Edward Scissorhands'. Lindsay Lohan had nothing to do with this one (yet). You've gotta love a family that takes in a robot with scissorhands that has the potential to badly injure family members. Sure, Edward is sweet. But he has scissorhands. There are inherent risks associated with having someone with scissorhands residing in your household.

4. 'Gremlins'. Billy Peltzer's dad gave him a pet monster. Therefore the Peltzers qualify as non-traditional. Inviting Edward Scissorhands into your home is nothing compared to bringing in a little monster that comes with a ton of impossible-to-follow-when-you're-a-teenager instructions!

5. 'Step Brothers'. Perhaps 'Step Brothers' is an exaggerated reflection of an emerging trend: Children taking much, much longer to leave the family nest. Whether it's an accurate reflection of today's society is of little concern, though. It's hilarious. And the fact that it has some touching moments about a new family truly bonding means it definitely fits into the non-traditional family genre.

CATEGORIES Film Fancy