Great Movies About Terrible Parents

Not all parents are good. Let’s take a look at some of the worst. In Cinema.
By  · Published on January 18th, 2018

Not all parents are good. Let’s take a look at some of the worst. In Cinema.

When we think of parents, we envision our earliest protectors and role models. They’re the people who give us life and guide us through it with love and support and by setting a positive example that enables us to become decent people in our own right.

That said, some parents are nothing like that at all and pose more harm than good to their children.

The history of cinema is littered with bad parents, too, and it’s time to celebrate those mothers and fathers who’ve entertained us for being in no fit position to raise kids. Below, I’ve chosen some favorite films worthy of attention — a mix of popular and obscure, including family comedies and bizarre genre offerings.

Enjoy them, but don’t emulate them or else you’ll be hearing from Child Protective Services.

Parents (1989)


Plot: A troubled young boy lives in fear of his parents because he thinks they’re cannibals.

Why Are the Parents Bad? In most societies, partaking in the consumption of human flesh is generally frowned upon. Regardless of what the family in Bob Balaban’s criminally overlooked dark comedy snack on, however, this mom and dad aren’t role models in the eyes of the film’s young protagonist. Told entirely from the worldview of a scared child, the poor little brat is forced to endure interactions with his parents, which suggests something sinister is lurking behind this seemingly perfect portrait of life in suburbia. Essentially, it’s a movie about living in fear of the people you’re supposed to count on to protect you from the world’s evils, and that’s what makes it such a disturbing, hilarious gem.

Red Dots


Society (1989)


Plot: A Beverly Hills teenager discovers that his family members are part of a sinister upper class cult — and they have plans for him.

Why Are the Parents Bad? In this sick, demented, grotesque world, our protagonist feels like an outsider from the get go. As it turns out, he was adopted, so his parents and members of “The Society” could feed on him eventually during one of their “shunting” orgies. There’s some incest in here as well, but the film’s final third is unlike anything else you’ll ever see, and the images will stick with you for the rest of your life. If you have seen the flick, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it as long as you’re willing to vomit up your lunch.

Red Dots

Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

John Heard Foto De Archivo

Plot: A young child is forced to fend for himself and survive two mean burglars when his parents forget to take him on holiday — TWICE.

Why Are the Parents Bad? Sometimes even parents with the best intentions are unfit for the job. Case in point: Mr. and Mrs. McCallister. There’s no denying that they care for their son, but forgetting your child once is an oversight that can’t be ignored. Forgetting him twice, meanwhile, is just insane. Granted, they have a large family and it’s difficult to keep track of all those kids, but they’re still a far cry from being responsible guardians of the human being they created.

Red Dots

Matilda (1996)


Plot: A genius child must endure the hardships of an awful home and school life.

Why Are the Parents Bad? Matilda is a special, gifted, and kind-hearted child who’s enthusiastic about learning and reading books. Her parents are against the magic of reading, though, and they expect her to vegetate in front of the television like the rest of her rotten household. However, in general, they’re just neglectful screw-ups who couldn’t care less about their extraordinary daughter, and for a children’s movie that’s a pretty horrifying concept.

Red Dots

Mom and Dad (2017)

Mom And Dad

Plot: An epidemic breaks out and turns parents into homicidal maniacs. A teenage girl and her little brother then must survive Nicholas Cage alongside film wife Selma Blair.

Why Are the Parents Bad? Killing your own children is a pretty big no-no when it comes to what constitutes acceptable parenting. No matter how obnoxious your offspring are, you just have to deal with it and love them unconditionally. Sure, in this entirely possible scenario the parents are infected and not exactly in control of their actions, but from the opening moments you can tell they’ve harbored filicidal feelings from time to time. The chaos that ensues afterward is glorious and features Cage smashing up a pool table with a sledgehammer while singing “The Hokey Cokey.” Yes, it’s as epic as it sounds.

It’s also worth noting that Mom and Dad was helmed by Crank co-director Brian Taylor. To some people, a movie about murderous parents starring Nic Cage at his most batshit, made by this particular filmmaker, is too enticing to resist. Let it overtake you and you may even find it therapeutic.

Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.