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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 42.86%
Pretty Bad: 9.52%
Total Crap47.62%

2 reviews, 9 user ratings

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It Runs in the Family
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by EricDSnider

"I would rather watch Douglas home movies."
3 stars

It was brave of Kirk Douglas, his speech impaired by a 1995 stroke, to continue acting. I just wish he would choose better projects than "It Runs in the Family," a well-meaning but mediocre movie that in no way bolsters his considerable filmography.

Director Fred Schepisi ("Roxanne," "Six Degrees of Separation") no doubt was thrilled at the stunt casting: Kirk, Michael and Cameron Douglas play grandfather, father and son in a dysfunctional Manhattan family. Michael's real-life mother (and Kirk's ex-wife), Diana Douglas, plays his mother. Michael's real-life wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones ... well, she was busy, or something. Bernadette Peters stands in for her.

Kirk is Mitchell Gromberg, a once-powerful lawyer who has been hindered by a stroke. His son, Alex, declined becoming a partner in dad's firm and now seeks out pro bono cases and does soup-kitchen duty, perhaps out of a guilty conscience. His son, Asher, is a 21-year-old pothead and slacker who forgets to pick Grandma up at the doctor's office because he's busy selling marijuana. He has a 12-year-old brother, Eli (Rory Culkin, of another acting family), whose quiet demeanor and slight oddness worries his parents.

There is no plot to speak of; just strands of events and family drama, treated with only as much sobriety as necessary, generally favoring light comedy over heavy-handedness. And yet, the film is neither especially funny nor especially moving. Its only real asset seems to be that it can use five decades of actual family photos as set decorations. The limp screenplay by Jesse Wigutow assumes that characters trying to understand themselves and each other automatically make for fascinating viewing, when in fact they do not.

The performances from all the Douglases, as well as the Peters and the Culkin, are charismatic. The film has good intentions and is sweet and earnest, but it's hopelessly mediocre.

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originally posted: 05/04/03 07:04:01
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User Comments

10/25/04 Jack Sommersby Formulaic and questionable, but it manages to charm and entertain. 3 stars
5/22/03 Todd at parts aimless, but surprisingly realistic 3 stars
5/13/03 Goofy Maxwell About as welcome as if the Jackson's starred in "Family Matters: The Movie". 2 stars
5/09/03 John I haven't walked out on a movie in years. I did last night. 1 stars
5/03/03 Jackson62 Kirk+Michel+Cameron+Little Culkin Kid=Torture by Notorious Acting Families 1 stars
5/02/03 Linda why oh why did I spend money on this crap 1 stars
4/30/03 Dana Carvey must DIE!!! No masterpiece, but not that bad. A banal story but well told. 3 stars
4/26/03 Andrew Carden Advice To Hollywood Families: Don't Act Together. Tediously Boring and Dated. 2 stars
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  25-Apr-2003 (PG-13)



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