Family Plot - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Family Plot Reviews

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July 7, 2016
By far one of Hitchcock's best.
February 20, 2016
One of Hitchcock's most balanced comedies; neither too frenetic nor too sluggish. The clever intertwining plots are allowed to develop at a natural pace and the laughs too, while only lightly sprinkled throughout, are mercifully unforced, a problem that plagued the director's other straight-up comedies. The thing that makes Family Plot stand-out as worthy as Hitch's last film is the running commentary on his style, which adds more value to fans of the master of suspense than the casual viewer; the mention of a 'perfect murder' in someone's past made me realise it could be seen as a pseudo-sequel to many of Hitchcock's thrillers, a commentary on what would happen next to many of his protagonists. As such it is a perfect swan song from the great director.
November 14, 2015
I didn't have high expectations as I had read some reviews that complained that this was a poor Hitchcock swansong.
I disagree, I thought this film was great fun. My only complaint was at times Barbara Harris was way over the top and highly irritating but everyone else in the film made up for that especially Bruce Dern, he was a delight. Great Premise and the right amount of drama and humour. loved it!
October 24, 2015
First time watching this Hitchcock film, and I quite enjoyed it. The cast is excellent, and I really liked Bruce Dern in this. The story is good, and there's humour as well. A solid film from Hitckcock's late career. Check it out!
August 23, 2015
a solid, methodical thriller that intricately builds to its inevitable conclusion
½ August 15, 2015
And now for something completely...different? Although he probably didn't think this would be his last film, Hitchcock certainly picked an interesting project to go out on. FAMILY PLOT is about two criminal couples who paths happen to cross in a surprising way. Perhaps more than any film in his corpus (that I've seen so far), FAMILY PLOT has a lighthearted tone while maintaining that edge that Hitchcock was so well-known for. The plot is a bit convoluted, as is to be expected, but the way in which it all comes together at the end was something to behold. I may have criticized his earlier films for their endings, but he seems to have come up with the perfect one here. Not to mention, the final sequence was as suspenseful as anything he did in his prime. Here, he collaborated again with writer Ernest Lehman, who he worked with on NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Perhaps that's why the films feel so similar, at least tonally. There's also a hilarious car chase sequence which fares much better than Cary Grant's in NXNW, although the process shots/rear projection was just as noticeable. However, he worked with a new composer this time: a pre-Star Wars/Superman John Williams. While I wouldn't count this as one of his best, or most memorable, scores, it certainly fit the quirky tone of the film. If I had to describe it, the score (and the film) is somewhere between Monty Python and Matlock, if that makes any sense. As with his last couple pictures, this one doesn't really have any star power behind it, although I did recognize Bruce Dern from his small role in MARNIE. They all give decent if unspectacular performances, and their characters were reasonably developed. Of course, I loved all of the Hitchcockian touches in the camera-work and editing. Despite being advanced in age, he still could put together a great set-piece. Overall, this isn't top-tier Hitchcock, but it certainly made for an entertaining and satisfying swansong to an incredible career.
May 9, 2015
The Ending Is Absolute Classic Hitchcock. Makes Up The Rest, Which Staggers Along In An Unusually Disjointed Fashion..Seemed Not Completely Cut Together Properly.
½ April 4, 2015
La última película de Hitch no será la mejor en su filmografía, pero tiene una trama pasable, uno que otro momento entretenido, y un par de buenas actuaciones por parte de Bruce Dern y Barbara Harris.
February 24, 2015
Mediocre black comedy about fake psychics & diamond thief's clashing over a misunderstanding. This may be a decently made film, but that doesn't stop this being a bad movie, Hitchcock's final film Is a terrible attempt at combining a suspense thriller with a black comedy. Although the film has a few redeeming qualities that saves it from being a complete disaster
½ January 20, 2015
Creo que es la quinta vez que la veo, muchos la consideran una obra menor a esta la ùltima pelicula de Hitch, pero es mucho mas que eso una mezcla de comedia, suspenso y humor negro que no decae en ningun momento y un estilo que sirve de referencia actualmente. John Williams estupendo en la banda sonora.
November 6, 2014
Being the last film ever created by legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, Family Plot was simply not a film I could miss.

I didn't go into Family Plot with the highest expectations as its legacy fails to live up to the standard of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpieces and the latest films in his career were proving to be of little quality. Plus, I was aware that the film was a bit more of a black comedy than a straight up thriller like many of his other pieces. That actually ended up being interesting to experience. The light nature of Family Plot made it a film which was possible to take seriously, but not one which was packed full of plot dynamics and different story angles. It still has its faults, but they are easy to keep up with in Family Plot because intense focus is not as much of a requirement this time around.
One of the issues is that there are quite a few characters to keep up with. While the central premise is fairly straightforward, the film is largely about two parallel narratives that run which reveal the two main perspectives of the event occurring, much like the structure put into Alfred Hitchcock's preceding film Frenzy. At the same time, the film flashes back to character Julia Rainbird's relevance to the tale among others. This settles down as bit as the story gets on and the focus ends up a lot more on better characters for longer periods of time without so many shifts, but it doesn't give the film a perfect startup. After a while however, things get settled and the film progresses nicely. The story unfolds at a sensible pace and things get intriguing. And although the story may not be the best that Alfred Hitchcock has told in his career and the pace of the film is slow as most films of the day were, it is still an entertaining piece of cinema.
Admittedly, Family Plot seems like a lesser piece from Alfred Hitchcock. It is an enjoyable piece, but it feels like a more conventional film without too much of a personal touch. He does line the film with atmosphere which is pivotal, but it lacks the same edge as many of his other works. But the effort of his directorial work is undeniable. It is interesting to see him taking on a different type of genre this time, with the mix between dark comedy and legitimate mystery thriller being an interesting hybrid. I found that Family Plot was one of Alfred Hitchcock's better pieces from the end of his career and his best since Marnie in 1964. He did give a great handling to the screenplay and was able to emphasize a lot of clever style in it by adding strong visual elements to it. Taking the low budget of Family Plot for a spin, Alfred Hitchcock gets a lot of nice scenery and production design to fuel Family Plot from the get go, and it works because the story is easily believable and contains some memorable imagery. Admittedly the German Expressionism moments in the film didn't add much due to the visual effects coming off as more cheap than artistic, but it is easy to overlook and even worth a bit of a laugh as an unintended comic virtue.
The musical score of the film is well composed. Crafted by legendary composer John Williams, Family Plot benefits from some strong music which maintains the spirit of many of his earlier works, more specifically the ones where he worked with Bernard Hermann. Yet at the same time it is also different. It is more subtle and lighter in nature which makes it tie into the general mood of the film really nicely while enhancing it .
And Family Plot is also a very well-acted piece.
Bruce Dern and Barbara Harris are terrific in Family Plot. In one of his earliest lead performances, Bruce Dern makes an easily likable protagonist, and Barbara Harris has a certain charming edge to her. The chemistry between the two actors is very relaxed and easy, and Bruce Dern is the more likable of the two partially because his character is a bit of an everyman. As the two of them are small time petty crooks, their transition into the underbelly of the real crime world is an interesting one because it depicts that they really fail to know anything about the life of a criminal, and the discoveries they make drive them further and further into a world they could not understand. The two of them are likable figures for the story, and both actors really work well together.
Karen Black is unpredictable in Family Plot. Despite being involved with criminal activities and siding with the enemy, Karen Black always has a certain edge of likable demeanour to her attributable to her natural charm, and the fact that there is always a sense of underlying reluctance in her. She also works really well alongside William Devane, so her performance in Family Plot pays a lot of credit to her as an actress.
William Devane is in fine form as well. He maintains a sophisticated dark edge in the role which has him walk an interesting line through the film. He has a Vincent Price-ish attire to him in the sense that he is dark and yet clever in a manipulative fashion. He has a sense of darkness and unpredictability to him, and yet he portrays the character in a really light manner. He encourages both the dark nature of the crime elements in the film and the light touch of comedy in the atmosphere which makes his performance on that matches the mood easily. William Devane is fine form as the central antagonist in Family Plot.

So although Family Plot is not one of Alfred Hitchcock's finest piece, it is a step up for him from three less than stellar preceding pieces due to his hard work in making it a quirky and atmospheric dark comedy / crime film which is fuelled by a strong film style and a strong cast.
½ September 3, 2014
Alfred Hitchcock's final film is the story of a phony psychic and her cab driver boyfriend as they attempt to unravel a mystery about a missing heir to a huge fortune (given away as a baby because he was illegitimate), and getting wrapped up in what that heir has become as an adult...a kidnapper who ransoms people for diamonds. It is a solid entertaining film from the Master of Suspense who gives his final film before illness stopped him from continuing on with his next project. The cast is good, and the film works for the most part. It isn't the best of his work, but he didn't go out embarrassingly, which is more than can be said with so many other longtime filmmakers like Hitch. He had a great career, and managed to keep it strong from the 1920s up through the 1970s.
½ August 24, 2014
Good finale to Hitchcock's career.

Family Plot was Alfred Hitchcock's last movie. He died four years after it was released. While not anywhere near the dizzying heights of Hitchcock's best movies (Rear Window, Psycho, among others) it is reasonably good.

Interesting main plot with some good twists along the way. Some inconsistencies though, especially in some of the sub-plots. Not everything entirely makes sense. Also, giving away the secret so soon in the movie removed a lot of the potential mystery in the movie.

As always with a Hitchcock movie, what sustains the movie is the suspense. Hitchcock keeps you hooked the whole way through.

Also has some good humorous moments.

Good performance by Bruce Dern as George. Barbara Harris was a touch unconvincing and irritating as Blanche. William Devane is okay, and suitably devious, as the criminal, though his 70s moustache was a bit too creepy.

RIP Alfred Hitchcock.
June 28, 2014
Between the the theater lines for action movies and dramedies the Family plot stands on firm ground never to be washed away. Well except for poor Aurthers grave. He never really was one for the law.
May 23, 2014
Family Plot ei todellakaan ole aliarvostettu vaan kevyesti Hitcockin huonoimpia. Ei ole hauska vaan pelkästään ärsyttävä. Ei ole jännittävä vaan vaisu ja tylsä. Näyttelijät heikoja Bruce Derniä lukuunottamatta mutta se on osittain heikosti kirjoitettujen hahmojen vika. Barbara Harrisin esittämä meediohuijari taas hakee ärsyttävyydessään vertaistaan. Lisäksi kohtaus jossa pääparin autosta on leikattu jarrut on kaikessa noloudessaan karseaa katsottavaa. Olisi ollut parempi että mestarin viimeiseksi elokuvaksi olisi jäänyt tätä edeltänyt Frenzy.
April 3, 2014
Family Plot is Alfred Hitchcock's last film, but sadly the movie isn't one of his best. Alfie could've done much better to clean up the muddled plot, weird film style, and awkward tone of the film. Pulp Fiction is quirky-good, but Family Plot is quirky-bad.
March 8, 2014
This underrated masterpiece and Hitchcock's final film serves up a fun plot while still managing to have a dark streak. Helped greatly by John Williams' baroque score, it feels almost ebullient at times despite its characters' garish nature (some willing to resort to killing to cover up their pasts). Although not the central conceit, Hitchcock himself proclaimed, "Murder can be fun." And that line sums up the mentality of Family Plot, which never loses sight of its scope or aims too high.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2014
Ah, yes, the family plot thickens, and with it, Alfred Hitchcock's kidneys. People, the man went out in 1980, and it's not like we weren't seeing it coming for many, many years by that time, so we may as well have a morbid laugh, something that Hitchcock apparently believed in during his final days. Yup, people, for his last realized stroke... of creativity, that is (Seriously, speaking of "morbid"), Hitchcock decided to go a more comedic route with this film, although he was sure to keep in plenty of dark elements, and I mean plenty. Yeah, folks, don't go thinking that this film's title is short for "Family-Friendly Plot", unless your part of, well, the Bates family, because this story is a "grave" one. Don't worry, this film is a little bit funnier than that pun, and you can gather that from looking at the title, which does, in fact, feature a much better pun. You know, like, a family plot is where they bury relatives, and this film is about a scheme involving a family... right? I don't know if that's more reflective of my being inaccurate about calling this film funny, or a reflection of just how unfunny my "grave story" pun was, but in all seriousness, this is a fair note for Hitchcock to go out on, despite its flaws.

Whether it be because it's even self-aware about its dramatic thinness, or simply because of whatever, this film doesn't put much thought into developing its characters, whose unlikable traits are hard to deny without being veiled by some extensive characterization, and loosen your investment about as much as the many moments in which the film jars in its focal shifts. Something of an ensemble piece, this film juggles several plots, and messily so, giving you time to detach yourself from certain characters the longer the film focuses on others, something that it didn't have to do, and probably wouldn't have done if Ernest Lehman's script didn't go dragged out my meandering bits in material which break up a fair deal of tightness. Yeah, there are plenty of places in which the film feels tight, but in plenty of other areas in this ultimately unnecessarily two-hour-long affair, things outstay their welcome, and such pacing inconsistencies challenge engagement value, not unlike the tonal unevenness. The film opens with a séance sequence that is so cloyingly scored, overacted and lamely written that it, quite frankly, is rather embarrassing, and after that, the level of cheese takes a serious drop, yet it admittedly rarely, if ever truly dissipates, as certain missteps in dialogue or overblown aspects to humor distance, particularly when they break a certain relative seriousness through tonal inconsistencies that limit a sense of weight to this narrative. I don't suppose the inconsistencies in pacing and tone are as severe as I make them sound, being not much more glaring than the developmental shortcomings that you kind of get used to after a while, thanks to storytelling's and acting's shining a light on the color of this ensemble piece, yet those issues stand, and the more they stick around, the harder it gets to be to ignore how kind of overblown the telling of this story is, for although there's plenty of intrigue to the idea behind this pseudo-thriller, it's natural shortcomings that really hold this thing back. There's only so much momentum and sense of consequence to this not-so lighthearted fluff piece, and while the entertainment value is there, it can't quite make the final product all that memorable, through all the inconsistencies. Consequential shortcomings are almost as recurring as natural shortcomings, but just as recurring as anything are the strengths, of which there are enough to sustain a decent amount of entertainment value, with the help of lively score work.

At least notable as the meeting between two legends of the offscreen aspects of filmmaking, this film sees Alfred Hitchcock employing the great John Williams to compose a score that isn't all that special, is formulaic, and isn't even all that prominently used on the whole in this mostly unmusical film, but it's most certainly rich with much of that classic John Williams color, which, while subtle, helps sustain liveliness, when actually played upon, that is. Needless to say, more recurring than the score work in this ensemble piece is, of course, the ensemble of performers, for although Barbara Harris, maybe even a few other people, gets carried away with some of the film's more cheesy material (Like I said, that opening séance scene is a bit of a challenge), most everyone in this perhaps overblown cast charms, with the leads nailing their morally questionable characters' sleaze with enough realization to help win you over, despite expository shortcomings. As with many of your trademark dark comedies, this film is driven by thoroughly flawed and often unredeemed characters, and in order to sell them as driving forces in this ensemble piece, it needs the charismatic performances that are found just about across the board in this heathily sizable collection of talents, and might also require some inspiration to writing. Ernest Lehman's script is perhaps the relative weakest aspect of the film, as it bloats its interpretation of a somewhat thin story concept with uneven pacing, while limiting development and control on tonal dynamicity, however limited, yet Lehman still delivers on plenty of wit to dialogue, as well as humor that is never broad enough to be riotous, but still amuses, to some extent, time and again. Cleverness is pretty prominent through the script's dialogue and subtle humor, but also applies to the handling of this narrative, which is dramatically thin, yet tells an interesting tale about several people's varying investigative takes on a case involving a dark family secret, sold in no small part by the colorful acting, scripting and direction. Not counting the ultimately unfinished "The Short Night", this film marked the final project by the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, and no, it's not a terribly worth testament to the late, great filmmakers groundbreaking abilities, yet Hitchcock's direction still carries the final product's engagement value, however limited, as much as anything, framing the film evenly enough to immerse you into the setting of the film, if not immerse you into a degree of intensity, while utilizing a certain steady pacing that, while a little too limp on occasion, thoughtfully soaks up the subtleties that make the film so interesting in so many places. Alas, were the film a little more comfortable in its storytelling, it would have bordered on rewarding, and if the story was a little meatier on top of that, then the final product would have gripped as a grand finale in Hitchcock's career, yet Hitchcock, joined by a team of other talented filmmakers, holds enough of your attention with entertainment value, if not tension, to keep you going, at least up to a point.

When it's all done and buried, limitations in development and an excess in material beget focal inconsistencies in this ensemble piece, while cheesy occasions and a hint of tonal inconsistency reflect the plot's being kind of thin secure the final product as rather underwhelming, but a colorful score, charismatic performances, clever writing and a reasonably well-structured final directorial performance by the late, great Alfred Hitchcock dig up enough intrigue to endear you to "Family Plot" as a serviceably entertaining affair, improvable as Hitchcock's grand finale though it may be.

2.5/5 - Fair
½ March 4, 2014
A pretty good thriller
November 28, 2013
"Family Plot" es la última película de Alfred Hitchcock y representa un misterio con una trama en forma de laberinto narrativo. Hitch nos tiene varias sorpresas preparadas y aprovecha muy bien a su reparto (los personajes incluyen a una clarividente, un taxista, una millonaria y a un par de ladrones de joyas).
"Family Plot" no es considerada una de las mejores del director pero aún así es muy entretenida y contiene varios de sus sellos característicos. Muy recomendable.
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