Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2003. Buena Vista International, Family Films, , GreenStreet Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Jesse Wigutow. Cinematography by Ian Baker. Produced by Michael Douglas. Music by Paul Grabowsky. Production Design by Patrizia von Brandenstein. Costume Design by Ellen Mirojnick. Film Editing by Kate Williams.
Once again returning to the classy New York film genre that he handled so well in Six Degrees of Separation, Australian-born Fred Schepisi ably directs this enjoyable comedy-drama. It centres around the men of a privileged family who can’t seem to stop performing well below their levels of potential. Kirk Douglas (giving a marvelously spry performance so few years after his near-fatal stroke) has trouble communicating his emotions to both his wife and his son (Michael Douglas), and when he does try it comes out as criticism. Michael is a lawyer in his father’s firm who can’t seem to find a good enough reason to pursue the life of public advocacy that he truly desires. His eldest son (Cameron Douglas) is trouble with a capital T, while his youngest (Rory Culkin, giving a shrewd and intelligent performance) is withdrawing into himself without sharing his feelings about school or his burgeoning interest in girls. The characters are all lovingly written and performed effortlessly by a family of actors whose personal connections definitely colour the work they do on screen (Diana Douglas, Kirk’s first wife and Michael’s mother, also appears as the family matriarch). The story itself has no momentum whatsoever, leaving a pleasant and tasteful experience that will really only please those who enjoy watching a show business family air out their dysfunctions for the world to see. Bernadette Peters absolutely shines as Michael’s pensive wife; her scenes with her husband are the best, while Cameron’s relationship with an emaciated university student are its tackiest.