10 July 2012 7:00 AM, PDT | HollywoodChicago.com | See recent HollywoodChicago.com news »

Chicago – The opening moments of Anne Renton’s feature debut, “The Perfect Family,” paint a typically cheery portrait of suburbia, complete with a sign displaying the generic tagline, “An Enjoyable Town.” It’s the sort of neighborhood audiences have seen countless times before in indies aiming to depict the “dark side” of small town America, a la “Blue Velvet.”

When uptight Catholic server, Eileen (Kathleen Turner), accidentally spills a handful of communion wafers and secretly shoves them in her mouth with the exquisite clumsiness of Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory, I was fully prepared for this film to devolve into a caustic slice of familial dysfunction along the lines of “Another Happy Day,” populated with shrill stereotypes and Puritanical basket cases. “The Perfect Family” could’ve easily been that movie, but it isn’t. In fact, it’s a much more tender and thoughtful picture than one would expect. »

- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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