"Let me give you some good advice," Mitchell Gromberg (Kirk Douglas) tells
his wife, Evelyn (Diana Douglas). "Never grow old." That's about as deep
as IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY ever gets.
This melodrama about the dysfunctional Gromberg family, a group of wealthy,
Jewish, Manhattan liberals, is played by a large cross-section of the
Douglas family. A home movie that probably sounded like a good idea when
some Douglas thought of it, the resulting picture doesn't even rise to the
level of a daytime soap opera.
You and I both know that Kirk Douglas and his son Michael, who plays
Mitchell's son Alex, are both great actors, but, if you had not seen them
perform before, you would never guess that they had much talent based on
this lackluster affair. No matter how sappy the story tries to be -- they
all fight like cats and dogs while still believing in the curative value of
a quick group hug or a spur-of-the-moment fishing trip -- the movie never
manages to get even the schmaltz right.
The movie's messages, while they might appear on the surface to be
wholesome, are filled with questionable parts. Alex's son, Asher (Cameron
Douglas), for example, is portrayed as a likeable stoner. Although Asher
runs a thriving little business as a drug dealer, the movie tries to show us
what a good kid he really is when he lets some other students, who are low
on cash, have their drugs without demanding an immediate payment. Gosh,
doesn't every parent want a son with such a generous and compassionate
Even if a real-life family is playing a fictional one, I never believed the
characters for a minute. And I certainly didn't care about what happened to
any of them. Let's hope acting families in the future will wait until they
get a credible script before they decide to get together to make a movie.
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY runs 1:49. It is rated PG-13 for "drug content,
sexual material and language" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes