The Family That Eats Together… Seven Great Movies About Food and Families
02.04.14 by Sean
Despite the obvious mafia connections, The Capones is at its heart a show about a family restaurant. Of course, food and family have always gone together, so in honor of its premiere we decided to count down the seven best movies about family and food ever made.
Family, Food, and Lots of Fighting
Before he started directing movies in English, Ang Lee made this feature about intergenerational problems and food. In the Chu family, announcements must be brought forth during Sunday dinner, spoken while everyone eats a sumptuous meal cooked by their father, who just happens to be the greatest chef in Taipei. It's fortunate for the family's three daughters that the food is so good, as that means that at least there's something to mitigate the constant pressure that surrounds these meals. Ultimately, though, Eat Drink Man Woman is a sweet picture, and while their father may be a hard man, it's clear that someone who puts this much effort into his dishes is only doing so because he cares so much.
Given its slightly nasty tone, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to "family." But look past that and it's actually a sweet picture about a boy and his grandfather bonding, contrasting their love with the variously noxious relationships between the other children and their parents. The various memorable, and fantastical, confections in the movie also serve to make this tart picture much sweeter.
While Waitress is about the dissolution of one family, it's also about the creation of a new one. Jenna leaves her husband, but it's because of her unborn daughter, and in place of a traditional family she bonds with the waitresses and owner of the diner she works at. One of the highlights of the picture are the almost otherworldly pies she bakes, from "I hate my husband pie" to "Jenna's first kiss pie" to the Biblically good "Marshmallow mermaid pie." While few of them are traditional, all of them look and sound delicious.
No surprise that this makes it onto our list, but not just because of the Italian-American connection it shares with The Capones. In Goodfellas, it's ultimately Henry's concern for his family's spaghetti sauce that makes him take his eye off the prize and get caught by the feds. Even before that, though, there's the excellent scene of prison cooking where we see the way the mob's kitchen isn't so different from Henry's at home, with the same familial atmosphere and concern for detail. The food looks so good, in fact, it makes you wish for some prison cooking yourself.
An odd movie in that the family who feasts isn't actually related to the woman making it for them. Still, the bond between these women is there, and when Babette decides to cook them this epic meal there's obvious sincerity in her heart. The comedy of the picture comes from the family's decision that they must eat the food so as not to offend Babette, but for religious reasons they must not enjoy it. Needless to say, when a meal is that good, not enjoying the food is literally impossible.
Not all great Italian dining has to be mob-associated, and for those who prefer to stick with the cooking Big Night is the movie for you. This picture stars two brothers who own a failing restaurant and hope that one big meal, with media coverage, will be enough to save it. While the pair has its share of troubles, they never lose sight of what they care about: their relationship with each other, and their passion for only serving the best food possible.
Family dining is just as important for mourning as it is for celebrations, and the Yokoyama's of Still Walking get together every year on the anniversary of the oldest son's death. This movie, though, isn't about death, it's about life, and with this the ordinariness of everyday activities such as making a meal and eating it together.