It Runs in the Family (review)

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There are enough Douglases onscreen here — Michael (One Night at McCool’s), dad Kirk as his dad, son Cameron as his son, mom Diana (Planes, Trains and Automobiles) as his mom — that it’s easy to imagine we’re getting the inside scoop on the real-life Douglas soap opera. We’re not, but Jesse Wigutow’s fictional screenplay about three generations of New York men breathes with much knowing truth and dainty detail about the intimate lives of families. In fact, it’s the best kind of Hollywood melodrama — bittersweet, poignant, enjoyable tear-jerking — for two-thirds of its running time, which makes its missteps near the end all the more disappointing. After weaving a tangled web of life’s passages, from first kisses to confrontations with death, and exploring in all their disordered glory the many guises a single relationship with a spouse or a child can take, the film veers into the worst of melodrama. After putting up such a nice pretense of reality, that cuts too deeply to be forgiven. If only Wigutow and director Fred Schepisi (Fierce Creatures) had resisted the urge to be Hollywood-tidy and had let their film be as splendidly messy as life itself.

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