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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 Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

"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 heart?

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

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