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Father and Sons
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"Passable French comedy"
3 stars

FATHER AND SONS is the sort of comedy that tries to get by a certain unadventurous charm; it plays smoothly, bolstered by decent performances and an observant wit. But it's not all that funny. To be fair, nor is it egregiously unfunny. It's just a thoroughly middling film.

The rather standard plot deals with an old patriarch who, after a mild fainting spell, decides to feign a terminal illness in an scheme to bring his three estranged sons back together. Two of his sons barely speak to each other; the third is a bachelor whom everyone suspects is a closeted homosexual. Convinced that their dear old dad is on the verge of death, the three men spend one last vacation with him, in Canada, where the old man contrives to patch up all their differences.

This is the sort of low-key character study that the French tend to do fairly well, but you find yourself wishing that the film would break free of its modest ambitions. Just when you think the movie is angling toward hysterical comedy, it pulls back; missed opportunities abound. Consequently, FATHER AND SONS provides a good many chuckles but very few solid laughs. It also lapses into unintentional homophobia at one point, when the "gay" son demonstrates his heterosexuality by planting a big sloppy kiss on a woman as his approving father watches--it's a moment intended to be uplifting. Aren't the French supposed to be above that sort of thing?

It's a reasonably pleasant movie, but not really memorable.

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originally posted: 04/02/04 22:05:31
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 City of Lights / City of Angels Film Festival. For more in the 2004 City of Lights / City of Angels Film Festival series, click here.

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