18 dic. 2013

My Review: Family Weekend (6/10)

"If a family doesn't stick together, sometimes you have to use a little tape."

Family Weekend is a small indie comedy that didn't receive much attention after its limited release and I can understand why. This isn't a good film and I shouldn't have liked it as much as I did, but to be honest I did laugh during several scenes and it had one of those feel good endings that leave you with a smile on your face. The real reason why I'm giving this film a passing grade is because I really enjoyed the lead performance from Olesya Rulin and the supporting role from the young Joey King who was hilarious. This is the fourth film I've seen her in this year (the others being The Conjuring, Oz: The Great and Powerful, and White House Down) and this was her best role by far. Family Weekend is worth watching even if it's for her performance alone because she was just hysterical. I was going to describe this as a family film, but after seeing that it got an R rating I can understand why because it does take some dark turns. At first I thought this was going to be some sort of remake of House Arrest, and despite borrowing a similar premise, screenwriter Matt Turner kind of gives it its own spin. I do have to say however that some of the characters in this film are extremely unlikable (especially the mother played Kristin Chenoweth) and almost took me out of the film. Director Benjamin Epps could have used a stronger script, but overall his film had its entertaining moments despite being unbalanced and a bit overlong. Family Weekend is a formulaic comedy that does take some unpredictable and dark turns at times, and I actually ended up enjoying this. 

Emily (Olesya Rulin) is an uptight 16 year old girl who is passionate about jump-roping and after winning a competition at regionals she is disappointed that no one from her family shows up. When she gets home we meet them while she confronts each one for not going to cheer her. First there is her younger sister, Lucinda (Joey King), who is obsessed with acting and is currently playing the Jodie Foster role from Taxi Driver. Then there is her artistic father, Duncan (Matthew Modine), who is working on a painting and is so self absorbed by it that he had no idea that she was competing. Her brother, Jackson (Eddie Hassell) is also trying to become an artist like his father trying to find his way. Then there is her younger brother Mickey (Robbie Tucker) who is obsessed with animals and is always citing trivial things about them. Finally we are introduced to Emily's mother, Samantha (Kristin Chenoweth), who is an uptight businesswoman. Everyone seems so disconnected from each other and self absorbed, so Emily decides that an intervention needs to take place. She drugs her parents and ties them up in their home like hostages because she feels it's the only way she can get through to them. This is where the insanity ensues as she tries to fix her dysfunctional family.

Dealing with dysfunctional families has sort of become a trend in Hollywood and it isn't unfamiliar territory. We've seen some of these characters before in other films and the film does fall into generic cliches at times. Family Weekend still remains fresh thanks to the performances from the young cast, and it also happens to have some heart. The scenery in this film is gorgeous and the house where most of the story takes place also looks really good, so this is a pretty nice film to look at. It does feel unbalanced at times and the characters are hard to like, but overall we get through some of these unbalanced moments thanks to some comedic relief coming mostly from Joey King. Some of the familiar roles she plays in this film from highly acclaimed movies were the highlight for me. Rulin was also great in this film and I will be looking forward to what she does next. She truly was a freak queen here. The film does try to explore some deep issues during some dramatic turns although only scratching the surface and then continuing to return to the classic comedic elements. I had a good time although I admit I'm on the minority here and I fully understand why.


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