Relative Chaos

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Relative Chaos TV Poster Image
Sibling rivalries resurface at family reunion.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Although the parents' intentions were good, it's clear that their three kids suffered from the focus on competition during childhood. The siblings' relationships revolve around degrading put-downs and a constant desire to one-up each other. When it comes down to it, however, the family members love and back each other. One prominent character is Asian.


A lone scene with a gun ends in the accidental shooting of a foot, which remains bandaged for the rest of the movie. The only other lasting injury results from a lawn dart impaling a foot. Other physical exchanges include hitting, slapping, and choke holds in childlike sibling rivalry among adults.


Mild kissing scenes, sexual innuendos, and teasing about lovemaking are common among adults. (For example, a dad needles his son about overhearing him "begging for a session" with his wife.) One breathless post-sex scene of a couple under the covers; in another scene, a man accidentally joins his kids' nanny in the shower and steals a few peeks. One unmarried couple is shown sleeping in the same bed, and the subject of an illegitimate child is brought up.


Relatively mild: "hell," "pissed," "son of a bitch," "ass," "damn," etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two drinking scenes featuring adult characters (one in a bar and one at home). One character gets drunk (the effects are gone by the next day).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that adults indulge in a lot of juvenile behavior -- including name-calling, pranks, and constant bickering -- throughout this movie. But teen viewers who can put it into context will enjoy the comedy that results. Although all of the sexual content is implied rather than shown (there's no nudity below the shoulders), its prevalence will probably rule this one out for the tween crowd. The movie offers a glimpse at the link between a person's childhood and personality traits like low self-esteem and persistent overachieving.

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What's the story?

In RELATIVE CHAOS, a family reunion offers the competitive Gilbert family the opportunity to set aside age-old rivalries and just enjoy one another's company for a change. Up-and-coming attorney Dil (Christopher Gorham) arrives at his childhood home to find his parents (Terry Bradshaw and (Fiona Reid) in the throes of planning the 25th Gilbert Family Cup contest, an annual affair they invented years ago to build their kids' confidence through "healthy" competition. The event pits brother against sister (against brother) as Gil (Nicholas Brendon), Lil (Jenn Robertson), and Dil battle it out in events like hippity-hop croquet, Rubik's Cube deciphering, and identifying figures hidden in mosaic pictures. As the contest looms, Dil endures merciless ridicule from both his siblings and his parents for never having won the cup. Only Dil's girlfriend, Katherine (Charisma Carpenter ), believes that he can take the title, and she makes it her personal mission to motivate him to put the past behind him and win at all costs.

Is it any good?

Though the premise of Relative Chaos is a bit far-fetched (adults on hippity-hops?), it offers a tongue-in-cheek look at a lovably dysfunctional family whose problems might just be an extreme version of those shared by viewers. Bradshaw particularly shines as a flawed father whose priorities are so shaky that he cursed his kids with rhyming names, and he delights in their stunned reactions when a family trivia event brings to light many of the lies he told them when they were young.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about competition. What do people learn from engaging in competition? How can losing affect us? How does an opponent's poor sportsmanship hurt our own self-confidence? How should winners react to a victory? Families can also discuss sibling relations. Why is it sometimes difficult to get along with brothers and sisters? What can parents do to help their kids relate better?

TV details

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