It Runs in the Family (2003)

"Good"

It Runs in the Family (2003) Review


Someone once said of nepotism, "It does a family good." And occasionally, it does a movie good, as well. It Runs in the Family might not have worked so well with, say, Martin and Charlie Sheen, or Tom and Colin Hanks. But with three generations of Douglas actors on hand, the sentimental yet familiar family affair coasts along smoothly and generates enough heat to warm the heart.

The Grombergs are typical urban dwellers who confront extramatal temptations, medical dilemmas and general household turmoil on a daily basis. Alex (Michael Douglas) and his wife, Rebecca (Bernadette Peters), hardly have time for each other, let alone for their two children (Cameron Douglas, Rory Culkin) and Alex's parents (Kirk and Diana Douglas). Though largely independent, the group learns to lean on each other to pull through a sees of emotional challenges.

Most of us expeence the traumas on display in Family for free in our own homes, usually dung the holidays. Unless you come from a long line of acting powerhouses, though, your family squabbles won't look quite as refined as they do here. The Douglas family - more specifically, the Douglas men - bngs a built-in chemistry that draws us in to the Gromberg's comfort circle with ease. When tragedy stkes, we feel it. When danger looms, we sense it and recoil. And when resolutions are reached through sweat and tears, we bask in the glow of acceptance and embrace this motley crew in a cinematic group hug.

Because Family is so well acted and ably directed by Fred Schepisi, the scpt from Jesse Wigutow can get away with pedestan observational humor that makes broad statements about togetherness. Family has a tendency to break its characters into pairs as it analyzes relationships between fathers and sons, husbands and wives, fends and lovers. But with a cast this strong, we're engaged no matter which direction Schepisi opts to flow. Cameron Douglas, in particular, has a rugged charm that serves him well. The son of Michael, his last name might kick down some industry doors, but his talent will keep them open. His interactions with young Rory Culkin possess an unforced "odd couple" quality, with one playing an 11-year-old who has grown up too fast, and the other playing a 21-year-old who refuses to relinquish his adolescence. Hardly new ground, but the actors bng a fresh approach. They're valed by Kirk and Michael's sassy scenes, which also give us some of the strongest father/son conversations put to film.

There's a lot going on here, and Schepisi does an admirable job juggling multiple storylines. The film's third act involves an arrest, a first kiss, and a fiery bual at sea. While congested to a certain degree, Family rarely overplays its scenes for cheap gags, instead digging up subtle truths and humor in poignant situations. Like a broken-in bathrobe, Family is worn at the seams from one too many weangs, but you won't find a more comfortable article of clothing.

My pencil is big and yellow.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Advertisement
Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.