Great Movie Aunts & Uncles - Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club


Great Movie Aunts & Uncles

Everyone has a favorite aunt and uncle. They’re the ones you see a couple times a year. They probably make awkward and outdated jokes, don’t quite understand technology as much as you, and get you the absolute WORST gifts at Christmas. But, aunts and uncles deserve respect, and that’s what National Aunt and Uncle Day is all about. July 26th is their day, and we honor them with our list of definitive film aunts and uncles.


Played by Lois Smith, “Aunt Meg” is the elderly heart of the 1996 film about tornado chasers. She’s the reliable, doting aunt who’s always ready to stop on a dime to prepare a meal for 20 unannounced visitors. Too bad she also thinks it’s a good idea to collect sharp, dangerous weather vanes and wind chimes whilst living in the heart of tornado country. What she lacks in common sense she makes up for in the sheer amount of food she has on-hand at any given time.


Played by Cliff Robertson in Sam Raimi’s 2002 film – How many uncles have had this great an impact on a character’s overall arc? Without Uncle Ben’s death, Spider-Man wouldn’t really be Spider-Man, at least not the way we know him. It’s an origin story that was recycled in 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, and mutated into Tony Stark for Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far from Home. But it’s one line that has been the gold standard for super hero films – “With great power comes great responsibility.”


The one, the only – Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale – co-subject of Albert and David Maysles’ groundbreaking 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens. Edith is the aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and she and her daughter, Little Edie, deliver a consistent stream of wisdom throughout this deep dive into eccentricity. She had her cake, didn’t fall to Hitler, and was very excited that Jimmy liked her corn. The film was turned into a hit Broadway musical, and adapted as a feature film in 2009.


They took Harry Potter into their home, made him sleep under the stairs, constantly put him down and made him feel ‘lesser than’, inflicting emotional and physical violence on him at every turn, and never once pretended to genuinely care for him outside of fear. They might be the most reprehensible foster parents in film history. But, as played by the late, great Richard Griffiths and the luminous Fiona Shaw, you can’t help but smile at their rampant child abuse in every single film.


Played by the late, sorely missed John Candy, Uncle Buck should have been the coolest uncle you’d ever wanna have. But these stupid kids think he’s lame and don’t appreciate the fact that he chain smokes, drinks like a fish, attacks teenagers with power drills, and will do whatever it takes to win an argument or prove a point. Though he does come of age in the film and learns to be a more responsible adult, writer/director John Hughes never lets you forget that Buck does whatever the Buck he wants.


Sure, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are remembered for being Dorothy’s kindly old caretakers, but let us not forget – they would have willingly given up Toto to the wicked Miss Gulch. That said, they were such an important part of Dorothy’s life that she spent the entire film doing whatever it took to get back home to them. And, for a brief time, Dorothy’s absence murdered poor Aunt Em. So the question everyone should be asking themselves – at the end of the film – is Aunt Em some type of memory zombie?

1. SCAR from THE LION KING (1994)

Voiced by Jeremy Irons, Scar is the villain to end all Disney villains. He murders his brother, Mufasa; he sends his young nephew, Simba, away; he is brutal with his hyena henchmen; and he is so consumed by power that he will do whatever it takes to keep it. Yes, he also sings and dances. Scar is certainly not an uncle anyone would want to have, but he definitely leaves an impression, and that’s the benchmark for any great uncle. We also suspect Scar might give really thoughtful Christmas gifts.

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