Stuart Saves His Family (1995) Poster

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this is an underappreicated movie....
nunyerbiz13 February 2001
As far as SNL movies go it's definately above average, of course, that's comparing it to "It's Pat", "A Night at the Roxbury" and "Ladies Man"...

Still... this one hits more than it misses. If you have a dysfunctional family or can identify with any of Stuart's relatives, it's worth the hour and a half....

While it won't win any awards, it should be worth an hour and a half of your time... I give it 6/10 for the average person.... 8/10 if you have a highly diversified and dysfunctional family.
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A really nice, surprising movie
orindad11 May 2006
This movie is so much better than anything you'd expect. Needless to say, most of the films based on SNL characters are pretty lame, and this one slipped under the radar so quickly, you might assume it's another "It's Pat". It's not! If you like the Stuart Smalley character, you'll of course be more disposed to liking the film. But even those previously unfamiliar with the 12-step junkie will find a sweet and surprisingly honest story here -- one that both pokes fun at self-help groups and acknowledges that they can work. There are plenty of laughs; and in its treatment of Stuart's highly dysfunctional family of origin, this film achieves something near-great. Watch and see. And "get yourself to a pound cake!"
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not at all what I expected
ajdagreat23 August 2001
I rented this movie expecting a movie like "A Night at the Roxbury", "Superstar", or "Coneheads" - not a great plot or great acting, but a lot of laugh-out-loud, tasteless jokes that will cause me to feel guilty for laughing later. Not very good movies critic-wise, but I need a good tasteless comedy every now and then.

However, "Stuart Saves His Family" is different. It had a bittersweet plot and some pretty good acting. It turned out to be a good movie. On the other hand, it wasn't tastelessly laugh-out-loud funny. In fact, I only remember laughing once in the whole movie.

So did "Stuart Saves His Family" accomplish its goal, or did it fail miserably? I'm not quite sure. I still don't know what to think of this movie. I'd say it's worth renting just for its uniqueness.
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One of the best SNL movies?
michael.e.barrett4 September 2000
That doesn't sound like an accomplishment, since the best SNL movies are probably "Blues Brothers" and "Wayne's World," and both are uneven. Furthermore, Stuart Smalley seems at first glance like one of the most obnoxious characters to base a movie around. He has characteristics that turn a lot of people off (effeminate, new agey, "caring"), but Franken shows that this veneer is painfully constructed over anger and hurt, and you end up actually liking him better the more time you spend with him. (The TV skits tend to just make fun of him.) One of the movie's most interesting scenes is between Franken and Laura San Giacomo when he tells her "I love you." In any other Hollywood movie, this would be a romantic-interest scene, because everyone knows you can't have a male and female star in a movie without their getting together. Well, here it's that incredibly rare thing: a scene of genuine friendship and support, with Stuart's sexuality left out of the question. To me, that's more impressive than if they got into a liplock.
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Still totally hilarious after all these years
banderle10 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I recently recalled the Stuart Smalley affirmation, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, etc...", as a joke in a conversation with a coworker, and felt inspired to watch this film again. Note the fact that Stuart's "affirmation" has the distinction of being one of those rare TV/film buzzlines that become part of American pop vocabulary, and you already have an insight to the quality and staying power of Al Franken's humor, and of this movie as well.

I was delighted to find that indeed, "Stuart Saves His Family" was just as gut-bustingly funny as it was 10 years ago at its release. For those who care about such things, this is a film that got thumbs up and good reviews from Ebert and the late Siskel, and generally good reviews across the board. There were the token detractors. But the truth is, this is one of the better-reviewed films to come out of the SNL/Lorne Michaels franchise because it is one of the better films.

The underlying joke in the film (and the Stuart character itself) is a satire of 12-step programs and the recovery "culture"--and there is one--and the humor admittedly is probably funnier to those connected to that culture, or to human services professionals. But even those not familiar with self-help and recovery philosophies will appreciate the humor in the blatant satire of the clichés and affirmations and even the demeanor of those who practice these philosophies. Phrases like "shame spiral," "making amends," "rage-aholic," "owning my anger," and the like, when lampooned, are simply funny in and of themselves, especially when delivered deadpan by characters like Stuart. Because there are so many of these clichés, they remain fresh and humorous throughout the film. And viewers will certainly recognize and hopefully be able to laugh with the movie at the dysfunctional qualities of their own families and friends reflected there.

In a nutshell, the Stuart character is a guy involved in multiple recovery programs to correct the effects of coming from an alcoholic family. He has decided to share his wisdom through a public access cable show showcasing recovery philosophies, and as the film unfolds he faces a number of humorous crises related to his show. At the same time, his dysfunctional family undergoes a series of crises related to the death of an aunt. We are introduced to Stuart's alcoholic father, guilt-inducing mother, anxious overeating sister, and addict brother. The story that unfolds about the family's response to the crises, with their chaotic family interactions and childhood flashbacks both hilarious and touching, ends up being woven back into the drama around Stuart's cable show for a satisfying, if not all-too-realistic, resolution.

The film has been lauded for being a comedy with depth, because it is at heart a story about families and relationships--all dysfunctional, of course. There are some scenes that literally are tear-jerkers in the film, dealing with the affects of alcoholism and broken relationships, as well as the hope that recovery philosophies can bring. Indeed, one of the rewarding things about the film is that the recovery culture is both the butt of the joke, and at the same time is correctly represented as having a real, positive impact in peoples' lives. Though as in real life, we find that for the Smalley family, not everything can be fixed. And that gives this film, surprisingly, a ring of authenticity.

The other thing that struck me this time around was that the movie has a number of very talented actors in the supporting cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Laura San Giacomo, Harris Yulin. Certainly this helped to carry the movie, but the screenplay is tight and the comedic timing of the dialog consistently right on. Whether you're looking for a good spoof of pop psychology and the recovery culture, dysfunctional families, or just a well-made comedy, this movie will satisfy.
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Uneven, but good
zetes6 March 2014
Whenever trying to memorialize the recently departed, I tend to seek out lesser known films by them, or at least films that I haven't seen. I'd always wanted to see this film, adapted from the Stuart Smalley sketches from Saturday Night Live. I remember Siskel & Ebert liking the film quite a bit back in the day, plus the star is now my Senator. And this is actually quite a good film. What's most surprising about it is it's actually quite serious for what it is. In fact, trying to get the serious subject to work while also trying to keep the same style of comedy the sketches had on SNL makes it a little tonally uneven, but I love what they were trying. Al Franken stars as Stuart Smalley, who hosts a cable access show called Daily Affirmations, where he reveals his many problems to his small audience and tries to work through them. As the film opens, his producer fires him. Soon after, his aunt dies so he goes back home to Minneapolis for the funeral. His family is hugely dysfunctional, with many drinking and weight problems. He tries to help. The film takes the problems entirely seriously. I mean, there is comedy, but the family dysfunction is never the butt of the joke. Al Franken is very good and the character is given more subtlety than he had on SNL. Vincent D'Onofrio plays his younger brother, Harris Yulin his father, Shirley Knight his mother and Lesley Boone his sister. Laura San Giacomo and Julia Sweeney also co-star as Stuart's friends. Not a great movie, but a nice one.
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No belly laughs, but good.
Derek23729 August 2013
A not-so-well-remembered SNL movie based on a not-so-well-remembered SNL sketch. I watched it last night, and I don't think I've ever seen it before so it was kind of surprising at how unfunny it was. Not necessarily in a bad way, but it just felt more like an offbeat drama than a comedy. It dealt with real issues and didn't have pristine solutions and I've left it feeling contemplative and, to be honest, a little sad, which is sort of a compliment and sort of isn't. But the acting in the movie is great. I have this idea in my head of Al Franken as this gruff, intense comedic force but here he's so soft-spoken and calm so you gotta hand it to him, the guy is COMMITTED. Laura San Giacomo is also excellent and has a heartbreaking little speech. And Vincent D'Onofrio as the pothead slacker brother is good stuff. I don't know. Not sure how I altogether feel about it. I'd probably give it a 6/10, not great but by no means bad. I think it's on Netflix. Check it out.
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In its own way, the best SNL-character based film ever
somehope19 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
For those you who don't know that Al Franken became a political author/congressional candidate, he was a funny comedian who had entertained "Saturday Night Live" audiences since the 70's, and into the 1990's (off-and-on). His most famous character was a self-help, for lack of a better word, addict; i.e., his character was addicted to self-help groups, sponsors, 12 step meetings, etc., because he lacked or was coming to terms with his low self-confidence everyday and was trying to spreading self-esteem to others through a fictional cable access show on SNL called "Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley."

He would say things like "Doggone it, people like me." Okay, that's a lousy summation of an SNL character made into a film, but if I told you about two blues singing brothers who were wanted by all of Chicago ... of two rock n' roll delinquents who had their own cable show ... or two party guys whose heads moved when they heard "What is Love ..." ... would you know what the hell the fess is about in every case? If you want to look up Stuart on YouTube, or DVD feel free. He was funny, at times. But for this movie, know that it is both funny and sad (in a dark humor way) as we see a child of alcoholics and food addicts overcome his past, this film is a pretty damn good one. Directed by Harold Ramis, it doesn't go for any real forced SNL-inspired laughs, even though there are a lot in there if you want to look. The laughs basically occur because they come from pain, comedy's actual twin. There is a both sad and happy ending (or is it happy and sad?) from this film, but its never forced because Ramis, Franken, Vincent D'Onofrio, Juila Sweeny, and Laura San Giacomo know how to play the tightrope between pain and humor. It's not perfect, but its easily one of the best SNL character movies ever made, and one of the best about family alcoholism.
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A feeble three-minute stit stretched way, way too long....
smokehill retrievers21 June 2004
I picked this up mostly because I recall the Sat Night Live skits as being good. Unfortunately, stretching this lame plot out to feature length is all that Franken did, and it left us feeling just ripped off, and certainly not entertained.

Franken's humor, ham-handed and obvious at its best, occasionally works for short bursts, but this guy apparently just doesn't understand writing or plot development when it gets past the three-minute mark, and he apparently feels everyone is too dumb for subtlety. I knew kids like this in junior high school and always felt sorry for them. But I didn't want to spend over five minutes with them, either. Sympathy only goes so far.

Mercifully, the generally pitiful reception this film got should encourage Franken to stick to three-minute schtick for high-school audiences.

Don't pay money to see this thing, whatever you do.
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