Yesterday, we passed along a few guidelines for choosing the perfect family-pleasing post-Thanksgiving film. Today, we’re gonna do the opposite—namely, detailing the movies we (mistakenly) thought were safe for cross-generational viewing, only to discover that we were horribly, horribly wrong.
Learn from us, gentle readers: Don’t stream any of these picks after your holiday meal… unless you want to make pie time super awkward.
Hillary Busis, staff editor: I was a junior in high school when Kinsey came out in 2004; the whole Busis clan went to see it when my siblings came home from college for Thanksgiving. It was an Oscar-baity biopic starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney; how dirty could it possibly be? (Give me a break; at that point, I knew Kinsey only as a reference in “It’s Too Darn Hot” from Kiss Me, Kate.) The answer: Very, very dirty. Dinner that night was… kinda uncomfortable.
Kyle Ryan, EW.com editor: The summer of 1999 was especially hot in Chicago, and I didn’t have A/C, so I spent a lot of time in movie theaters. When my girlfriend’s mom came to town to visit, we did continued the season’s tradition by going to see Summer of Sam. I’ll never know what caused me to forget that Spike Lee’s films tend to have a fair amount of sex, but Summer of Sam had a lot of it. Gross ’70s sex clubs? Check. Creepy low-rent porn? Check. Endless, graphic discussion of it? Check. Mira Sorvino yelling “I smelled her pussy juice all over your f—in’ face!” at John Leguizamo? Check and check. I white-knuckled it for 140 of the movie’s 142 minutes, and still instinctually cringe about it 15 years later.
Ariana Bacle, EW.com writer: My dad is a big fan of romantic comedies, so it only made sense for us to sit down as a family one afternoon and watch Love Actually together during the holidays. “It’s sweet!” I thought. “He’ll love it!” Everything was going fine until Martin Freeman and Joanna Page appeared on screen, ripped their clothes off, and started simulating sex. That’s about when my rom-com-loving dad closed his eyes to escape the awkwardness of watching this scene with his then-teenage daughter—and the part when he “accidentally” fell asleep for the rest of the movie.
Teresa Jue, EW.com intern: Dirty Harry isn’t typical children’s fare, so it was an odd choice for my pops to pick it for family viewing night. It was set in San Francisco, so I assumed we would be watching the film for a fun cable car montage. Never was I more wrong. Dirty Harry includes a Stefon-esque list of things a little kid should not see: serial killing, front stuff, a whole school bus of children kidnapped by a psychopath, Clint Eastwood whispering his way through the movie with a huge gun. But my wide-eyed naiveté slowly turned into dead-eyed, wizened acceptance of the classic film, as my family and I eventually went on to see the rest of the four movies in the Dirty Harry series.
Ashley Fetters, EW.com news editor: My parents are distinctly American moviegoing parents—meaning that when my brother and I were growing up, relentless bloody violence was somehow perfectly acceptable viewing material for kids, while even the tamest sexual innuendoes and most tasteful depictions of consensual sex were off-limits. So by the time I saw Moulin Rouge as a middle-schooler, I’d already seen my fair share of dismemberment and blood-spewing, but still had to suffer through the indignity—not to mention the mortifying awkwardness—of my mom throwing a blanket over my head while she fast-forwarded through Jim Broadbent’s rendition of “Like a Virgin.” I didn’t even find out until later that all I’d really missed was some Jell-O boobs.
Natalie Abrams, senior writer: Since Orange Is the New Black was all the rage, I sat down with my wife and uncle to watch the series premiere… not knowing that it includes more boobs and sapphic sex than a late night cable channel. Yes, my family is very progressive, but watching lesbian porn together probably wasn’t on their to-do list for the holidays. Thanks, Netflix.
Esther Zuckerman, staff writer: My parents and I watch a lot of movies together and have sort of gotten over been squeamish, so I don’t have many memories of uncomfortable movie-watching experiences. I felt awkward when we watched Election for the first time, and confused during the hand job scene in Animal House. Other than that? Not much. So I’m going to have to venture into the realm of theater. When I was about 11, my parents took me to see Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? on Broadway. I guess they wanted to introduce me to Albee’s work. Anyway: This is a play about a man who has sex with a goat. Everyone realized this was a terrible idea. I lost two of my baby teeth during the performance, so by the end, as Mercedes Ruehl was dragging a dead goat across the stage I had a bloody mouth. It was a mess.
Jonathon Dornbush, EW.com intern: Unsurprisingly, Anchorman doesn’t do too well in a family setting. My parents were always pretty open about letting me watch comedies from their childhood, but they were often wary of letting me see anything recently released. Somehow, though, I convinced them that Anchorman could be a fun family movie night choice, and those poor, poor fools bought it. I loved it, but I’m pretty sure they remained silent for the entire film. They eventually grew to love the movie a few years later, but something about Christina Applegate yelling “Mr. Burgundy, you have a massive erection” didn’t quite sit right with them at the age I first heard it. For months after, they did nothing but shake their heads as I went about spouting lines like “It’s the pattern on the pants that’s not flattering in the crotchal region” at family gatherings.