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It Runs In The Family

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: It Runs In The Family

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas
Director: Fred Schepisi
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 109 Minutes
Release Date: April 2003
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Cameron Douglas, Sarita Choudhury, Rory Culkin, Bernadette Peters

Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

What distinguishes this dysfunctional family drama is neither the story nor the acting. It's the Hollywood casting - which involves three generations of the talented Douglas family. There's volatile, venerable 86 year-old Kirk Douglas, who is still hitting the mark after the effects of a stroke; his Oscar-winning son Michael Douglas; his first wife and Michael's mother, Diana Douglas; and Michael's 24 year-old son, Cameron Douglas, making his screen debut.

They play the affluent Gromberg family of New York City. Judgmental patriarch Mitchell Gromberg (Kirk) is grappling with mortality. His nurturing wife (Diana) is undergoing dialysis while trying to maintain a viable relationship with their defensive lawyer son Alex (Michael) who is struggling with a mid-life crisis, fighting off the advances of a predatory woman (Sarita Choudhury) in a soup kitchen, as his frustrated wife (Bernadette Peters), a psychologist, is coping at home with their sons: rebellious Asher (Cameron) and precocious Eli (Rory Culkin).

Director Fred Schepisi and screenwriter Jesse Wigutow toss in a drug bust and a couple of funerals to open the clogged lines of inter-generational communication but they never resolve the pertinent family values issues. The Douglases are appealing and obviously relaxed working with each other but it's too bad they didn't go for the lighter, more adroit comedic touch that is touted in the theatrical trailer. Douglas family trivia: this is the first time Kirk and Michael have acted together, while Kirk and Diana last appeared together in "The Indian Fighter" (1955). On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "It Runs in the Family" is a sadly sentimental and frustrating 5. "Growing up isn't easy at any age" but this never approaches "On Golden Pond" (1981).

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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