It Runs in the Family Reviews
Director: Fred Schepisi
Summary: The Gromberg family is one of the most powerful families in New York City -- but hidden beneath a veneer of perfection is a wealth of dysfunction. Three generations of Douglas thespians star in this touching drama about the ties that bind.
My Thoughts: "Although it was nice to see three generations on the screen thogether, the film wasn't that great. It had some funny moments here and there but not the comedy I thought it was going to be. It was more of a drama. A lot of father and son issues going on in this film that I am sure some will be able to relate to. The acting was good and it's unfortunate Cameron Douglas is in the position he is cause I think he could have easily followed in his grandfather and father's footsteps in the film industry. I thought he did good in the movie. I liked his character, he was fun. Perhaps the film is more fact then fiction. Either way it wasn't great but I enjoyed it."
Some aspects of this compromised script clearly scream,"Vanity project!"-- the characters were written to be like the actors who play them. Real fathers and sons. Real chemical dependency, and real marital infidelity. Horrifyingly, Cameron Douglas had an arrest record for drug use before his portraying the chemically dependent son in this film, and is now in prison for meth possession. Oddly, the film appears to get weighed down with disease, bodily functions, disability and chemical dependency, not exactly breeding grounds for big laughs. Viewers squirm at the awkward mix, and wonder if this is a comedy at all.
This film was not immune to the common foibles of the typical vanity project. For example, often the actors who commission a script want to play characters much younger than they are. That makes for some logic problems. It's preposterous that a 55 year old Bernadette Peters would be the mother of anything 10 years old. And the notion that Michael Douglas at 59 would try to play the father of a 10 year old is laughably delusional. Clearly Michael Douglas had a hand in shaping the script, agreed to the role, and thought he could play 50. When 10 year old Eli comes up to Bernadette Peters and says "Mom" instead of "Grandma" it's so absurd it's like bad community theatre casting-- Peters is old enough to be his grandmother. And Kirk Douglas his great grandfather.
Kirk Douglas is indecipherable in many of his lines because of his stroke, God bless him. But in his effort to annunciate clearly, he ends up overacting, and most of his lines are shown using wide shots to help frame his stiff-handed grandiose gestures. Subtlety is out the window here, and clearly the director struggled with managing his clarity of diction.
To add insult to injury, the script piles on another disabled character to the mix, a friend of Kirk Douglas's character who is an amputee with dementia, no less. The legless, flatulent, mumbling character appears to have been added to offset Kirk Douglas's own intense disability and make Kirk look comparatively better, and to still retain the fart jokes without embarrassing him. Otherwise, no sane script writer would ever include such a character. Also, the grandmother is on kidney dialysis and the kid is suffering from adolescent angst. Oh boy.
Similar to the adding of the demented character, the script creates a son younger than the real life Cameron, presumably to offset the focus on Cameron's real life drug use.
Eventually the screen is filled with seven characters, each with a problem. Add to that a continual flow of arguments, and you have an unwatchable psychobiography.
There are so many things out of balance with this film, and in retrospect, it's a great study of vanity screenwriting, and what happens when celebrities have money to burn, and a direct line to the screenwriter-- it's a recipe for disaster.