The Netflix Report

Movie reviews from my Netflix queue. Highly personal and opinionated!

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Monday, April 17, 2006


This is a tough film to rate because it's so wildly uneven. The central story is rather similar to The Big Chill. Instead of friends coming together for a funeral, this has family members meeting for their father's funeral. His wife and granddaughter seem to be the only stable ones in the group. All his kids are messed up in various ways and they spar with each other as they learn valuable lessons about sharing and caring.

Yes, the end is a little too "After School Special" for the dark, nasty comedy set up in the first half. But there are some wonderful bits of comedic slime going on in the muddle. I thought Zooey Deschanel was a bit too flat as the central figure. The family is viewed through her eyes, and her viewpoints aren't that interesting.

Rip Torn is completely wasted as the dead father (there are a couple of flashbacks so he isn't merely a corpse, but not enough). Ray Romano always grates on my nerves and continues to in this film, although his lecherous character is sometimes funny. His two kids in the movie are gems. They have all the worst characteristics of their dad multiplied by two. Truly horrendous and sickeningly comic.

Hank Azaria is fine, but dismissable in a very quiet role. Debra Winger turns her acting dial up to 11, playing a tightly-wound hyperactive control freak. Piper Laurie shows everybody what it means to be a true actress in her role as the mother of the clan. She is marvelous without ever doing anything obvious.

In the end, I really enjoyed the movie, as I like dark comedy. Reading user comments online, I seem to be in a minority.

Parents report: The movie features mature themes of voyeurism, drug use, lesbianism, and has swearing. No sex or blood. Kids would probably get bored.


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