this movie was great because it dealt with 'the family', with life, as something messy. it felt more real to me than other movies dealing with the same material because it was almost dark for a family movie. don't get me wrong... it's not at all depressing or dystopian, but it isn't the typical disney 'it's all flowers and sunshine' either. it dealt with (granted) stereotypical problems parents and children face. because all of the families in the movie were related we got to see a bunch of different types of family dynamics, and it was also interesting to note that they interacted normally with each other, even though we the viewers know they all have their problems. there was the single mother who had the two teenage children, so we get to see hormonal problems there. one of those kids has a boyfriend whom she marries early, though they're still high school aged. there is the stereotypical tv family with the early middle aged couple who have three young kids. steve martin's the dad in this one so they're kind of the focus family (also because that's the stereotypical family) and they have trouble with their eldest son who has emotional problems. then there is the child prodigy family, the guy puts everything into making his little kid a genius and ignores his wife, and finally the grandparents who have to deal with one of their kids coming home with a grandchild they've never seen before and a son in debt.
big schpeal aside... because the movie addresses actual lows that families go through instead of just supposing those issues and not actually addressing them, the highs they go through are that much more believable. and the roller coaster metaphor at the end of the movie was nice too. at the end they accepted the chaos and tried to make the best of it, which was nice.
i have to be in the mood for it, and when i am this is one of my favourite movies.