Parenting may be serious business, but anyone who has raised children has moments where they just have to laugh (or end up crying). Of course, some incidents might not seem very funny at the time, but in hindsight they can produce a chuckle. And the common mishaps that all parents suffer certainly are more amusing when they happen on the big screen. Yes, parents have to go through all kinds of compromise, embarrassment, and hardship to make sure their kids grow up healthy and happy, but it helps to commiserate. So if you’ve ever had a child vomit on you, if you’ve ever had to dress up in a ridiculous costume for a kid’s birthday party, if you’ve ever had to try to explain where babies come from, here are a few movies that should tickle your funny bone.
- Mr. Mom (1983). It wasn’t that long ago that raising kids and keeping house was considered woman’s work. But in this modern world of layoffs and two-income households, it’s not that surprising to see stay-home dads picking up the slack while mom goes out to bring home the bacon. And this sendup of role reversal in the home pits Michael Keaton against a demon vacuum cleaner, kids that can’t seem to stop themselves from making messes, and all the expectations of a society that says men who take on the woman’s role in the home are not quite as manly.
- Yours, Mine, & Ours (2005). It’s the story of a lovely lady and a man named Brady. Well, not quite. But the premise is roughly the same as the Brady Bunch, just multiplied. What happens when a buttoned-down Admiral with eight kids and a free-spirited designer with ten get together? You end up with two very different parenting styles and a pack to twenty confused children (not to mention a very long outgoing message on the answering machine). It’s going to take a lot of work for these families to come together, and without some middle ground (and a bedroom door) they might not make it. Luckily, they’ve got a giant lighthouse, a talking stick, and a lot of heart to help them out. You might also check out the 1968 original starring Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.
- The Parent Trap (1998). Before Lindsay Lohan ended up in the clink she was an adorable and devious little redhead, times two, in this remake of the 1961 original film about twins who are separated at birth by fiery parents that simply can’t live together. So each takes one kid at birth and they go their separate ways. In the twist that starts the movie, though, they both choose the same summer camp to send the girls to. Hijinks ensue as the twins, unaware of their sisterhood, strike up an escalating rivalry that lands them in camp detention, where they realize that they’re actually related. And it doesn’t take long for them to decide to switch places, leaving their parents in a pickle trying to figure out how to work out their differences.
- Three Men and a Baby (1987). When a baby ends up on the doorstep of three roommates sharing an apartment in Manhattan, these bachelors must learn on the fly how to care for an infant. And watching them fumble through putting on a diaper and trying to feed and soothe a baby is both mortifying and funny, especially when all of the women in their lives refuse to help out.
- Parenthood (1989). When it comes to the top movies about the foibles and flubs of parenting, Parenthood is one of the best. Steve Martin is at the top of his game as a working husband and father of three. And while many of the scenes are hilarious (why won’t the stupid piñata break open?) this is ostensibly a heartwarming tale of how parents do all that they can for their kids and often still feel like they’ve failed in their duties, until they realize just how much their kids love them.