It Runs In The Family (2003)

(In theaters, April 2003) Tolstoi once muttered something about dysfunctional families being unique and interesting, but the wisdom of his maxim continues to be lost in Hollywood, where the “dysfunctional family” movie has acquired a set of clichés that are usually followed to the letter. Family members hate each other until a terrible event brings them together. Young people are rebellious; old people face death, middle-aged people face overwork and adultery. From the movie-of-the-week credit sequence onward, It Runs In The Family feels like a film made by numbers. Through all the adventures that afflict the protagonists, dramatic tension runs low and the ending isn’t as much a climax than a conclusion. There are a few noteworthy things about It Runs In The Family, and they all pretty much relate to the Douglas family; Kirk impresses with his patriarch performance, while Michael is as much fun as he usually is and Cameron doesn’t embarrass himself in presence of his acclaimed elders. (On the other hand, Bernadette Peters has a bigger speech impediment than Kirk) Still, this is an amusing and, to its credit, it didn’t bore me as much as I thought it would. But the perfunctory ending (Hey, how about the girl?) mirrors the film as a whole, which is worthwhile if you like family dramas, but not deserving of any particular sacrifice. The Douglasses had their fun.

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