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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Yet another failure from the `Saturday Night Live' stable
bob the moo8 February 2002
Stuart Smalley is a new-age self help guru with a line in catchphrases `I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and dog-gone it, people like me!'. When his show on public-access cable is cancelled he falls into a depression, however a family death brings him back to his home town where he finds that his family have enough issues to keep him busy for months.

Stuart Smalley was created by Al Franken for Saturday Night Live. In the UK we've never seen this so I can only imagine that Stuart is used to poke fun at self-help, therapy etc - and I imagine that in 3 minute sketches that he can be very good. However stretched out to 90 minutes it doesn't cut the mustard. The story allows for some funny moments - mainly the flashback scenes where Stuart recalls instances in his family life. However the majority of the film is given over to drama and sentiment as the family deal with their issue. This sentiment is poorly handled and doesn't sit well at all. Even if this was a normal film, which it isn't, it wouldn't work, however building this drama round a spoof character makes it even less workable.

I really wanted to like this but I'm afraid that it just wasn't very funny. From Saturday Night Live I expected much more laughs - even of the hit and miss style. However I chuckled 3 or 4 times and that was it. Franken plays Stuart like a mockery of himself and does manage to squeeze some jokes out of the material, but he can't make the character do drama at all. The rest of the cast are filled with plenty of well-known faces (Laura San Giacomo, D'Onofrio, Harris Yulin) and a great comedy director in Ramis, but none of them can really do much with the material.

As much as I wanted to like this, this is just yet another failed movie project to come from the occasionally successful Saturday Night life stable.
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Nice Film Best of the SNL's!
tooteaching24 May 2002
This is probably the best of the SNL films simply because there is a back story behind the film. (Unlike the terrible "It's Pat!")

Those who watched SNL while Al Franken was on it saw the Smalley character. (His adage: I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and gosh darn it people like me!) In these skits, Smalley (who obviously had had a very difficult life) described his family. (On Halloween "I thought of going as a feeling but what does dread look like really? Other than my mother.") The skits would give the viewer images and makes us wonder how bad this family actually was. Now we know.

So many SNL films fail because they stretch a 2 minute skit into ninety minutes. One reviewer called it "Trying to stretch a piece of chewing gum across I-25, sometimes it makes it, most times it doesn't." This movie had great fully developed characters. There was no reason to stretch anything.

Al Franken plays the character with such sensitivity and such love and such heart that you can't help feeling for the poor guy. You can tell that this character is a sweet, kind human being who simply never got a decent start in life and is trying to do things right.

The scenes going back to Smalley's childhood complete the story. Including the funny scene about the family's trip to California.

To those who that this movie is as bad as "It's Pat" I beg to differ.

"It's Pat" never worked because it was never meant to work.

My only regret is that it failed so miserably box office wise and we'll never see a sequel. Al Franken is also no longer on SNL. I miss Stuart.

This movie gets an 8 out of 10. It's a great movie. A great movie to watch when you feel sorry for yourself or having a bad day.
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Not Much Here.
tfrizzell2 July 2002
Saturday Night Live routines always find a way to the silver screen and that is unfortunate for the most part. "Stuart Saves His Family" is another pure mess as the titled psychiatrist (the likeable Al Franken) goes home after his aunt's death and tries to keep his family talking to each other, but fireworks just continue going off with what are supposed to be hilarious results. Once again a lack of material just makes the film little more than a very long skit. 2 stars out of 5.
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They all must have been on crack!
Kunta314 July 2000
I guess I'm not being very fair, and maybe I shouldn't comment on this film, because on the SSHF's "main detail" page where it says, "I have seen this movie and would like to comment on it" probably means that one should watch this movie in it's entirety in order to comment on it. I normally can handle the worst of movies until the end, but not this one! (I couldn't finish "It's Pat" either, sorry SNL!) Half way through it I realized that this rare occurrence of me having to stop the madness was necessary for my mental well being.

I can tell you how much I hated the premise, I can tell you how much this movie bored me, I can tell you how much I hated all the characters, especially Stuart's, but I'm not gonna do that! Instead, I want to focus on something that did interest me about this film, the IMDb's User rating and the demographics thereof. Maybe I was only slightly stunned to see that the IMDb's user rating for this film was 5.2 (it should have been at the very least a 2.2, and that's kind), but I think the demographics concerned me the most. It was hard to believe that males under 18 rated this movie a 9.2!, and I don't know what to think of the 33 persons that gave this movie a 10!, except that they all must have been on crack! There was hope for my demographic however, males 30-44 (I'm 32)gave it a 5. Personally, and I'm sure with no surprise, I gave it a big, thick 1! People, please, I implore you...put down the crackpipes!
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Dear God in heaven
Chris S.12 July 2001
First, full disclosure. I don't like Al Franken. I've never liked Al Franken. I don't think Al Franken is funny. So it's unlikely that I'd ever like an Al Franken movie.

But even setting that aside, "Stuart Saves His Family" is another in a line of Saturday Night Live acts that tried to translate into a movie and didn't make it. ("The Blues Brothers" is the only one that did.) "Stuart" stands in good company with "It's Pat," "Wayne's World," and "The Coneheads." Why didn't these four acts make good movies? Lots of reasons, I'm sure, but the biggest is that -- except for the Coneheads -- the basic premise just wasn't that funny to start with. And stretching a mildly funny 5-minute SNL skit into a feature-length movie doesn't make a mildly funny movie. It makes a pathetic, tedious movie, and that's just what "Stuart" is.

Even though that's what I expected, I watched "Stuart" with a fellow 12-Step friend because we both thought we'd at least get some good 12-Step insider jokes. But "Stuart" doesn't even have that. And after about 45 minutes, we turned to each other and without speaking a word, nodded agreement and turned it off.

If you *really like* Al Franken, you *might* like "Stuart." If not, run away. Run like the wind.
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Great movie
alba50028 August 2007
This is one of best comedies of all times. The psychology of the main character is very incisive and realistic. However it is put in a grotesque context. Other characters are also very true to life or rather caricatures of certain types of people. The brother and the father of the main character seem to bring up the politically correct goofiness and dorkines of Al Franken. The Mother cuts also a very real and yet exaggerated person. The plot flows well and the whole dysfunctional family is funny and sad at the same time. The friends of Al Franken are also funny in their pseudo psychological babble and pretense. I find this film to be so good that I have bought the DVD.
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not what I expected yet loved it!
skydvr3831 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
surprisingly, what I thought would be a farce had some interesting depth. What's starts off as lampooning 12 step programs becomes a touching and somewhat tragic ride through recovery. Laced with humor, this is a dry, yet poignant study in recovery from 'our family of origin'. I watched this with several friends and we were stunned at the ending, namely,Stauart did not save all his family because it was their choice not to be saved. As Stuart says, he needed to move on with his life.Its easier to wear slippers than to carpet the whole world. True enough,you cannot fix others, particularly those who do not want to be fixed. Some revel in their misery or are so addicted to it some real peace would be disturbing. D'on't expect a major laugh riot here in this movie, expect the subtleties of humanity and conditions to give you a smirk, a grin,an 'aha' here and there. The real humor comes in Stuarts' journey. I salute the filmmakers for adding some really 'teary' moments.Alcoholism isn't fun. Perhapsthose touched by this disease,particularly those children (grown or not) who still ache from the hurts. You'll cheer Stauart for his own personal choices, not because he couldn't get his father into rehab.
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This in a sweet, under rated movie....
bill0425016 September 2007
Movies inspired by SNL characters seem to have a consistently bad reputation. But that reputation is usually based on the fact that the films failed at the box office. The truth is, they are good solid comedies that were never meant to be blockbusters. 'Stuart Saves His Family' is just such a film.

This film has a cast of excellent actors who portray tragedy and comedy with sublime skill. The script is heartfelt and funny. There is no mockery of recovery programs or the self-help movement. Instead, 'Stuart Saves His Family' evokes the all too real humor amid the tragedy that comes from being part of a dysfunctional family (and world).

AL Franken's deadpan deliver of Stuart's ridiculous, but charming self is the the heart of the movie. But equally good are Piper Laurie, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lesley Boone & Harris Yulin. All four play characters who could easily descend into shrill, two-dimensional background support to the wacky lead character. Thankfully, the actors all bring out the human beings inside their characters.

The message about finding your own definition of happiness and family is another of the movie's strong points.

I also recommend "Superstar", another SNL character driven movie, starring Molly Shannon. She's an excellent actress with a wicked, silly streak.
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Took me by complete surprise...
haroldnmaude22 May 2002
I was channel-surfing one afternoon and "Stuart Saves His Family" was on HBO. Being a bit of a masochist, I thought I'd stay and see how embarrassingly bad it was going to be (as most SNL-character-inspired movies are) and was pleasantly surprised. Anyone who is or knows someone who is in any of the 12-step programs will appreciate this movie and show it to all your friends. It has a stellar cast and Al Franken is an underrated genius.
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If you know recovery, you'll love Stuart!
rich-22814 May 2003
I don't know how funny this movie is to people who aren't involved in 12-step programs or don't know anyone who is. But to this 12-stepper, the movie is hilarious. Al Franken and crew seem to walk the narrow line between poking fun at the 12-step movement while also appreciating its good points. Lots of in-jokes here, and some very funny ones. I bought the home video version and have watched it several times. Al Franken, Laura San Giacomo, Shirley Knight, Julia Sweeney are all very good.
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Better than most people think
qssmith6 November 1998
I heard bad things about this movie for a while, but I found it to be a decent movie. I'm not quite sure why most people dislike it so much.
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obasi23 September 1998
This movie was funny, touching, and real to me. I know people like Stuart, and I think most people can say the same. I think this movie is wholly underrated and is one of my favorite films. I never thought I'd say that of a SNL-produced movie, but it's true.
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Franken is funny, most of movie is not
HAL-9815 October 2000
I'm not a big Al Franken fan, but I must admit that his Stuart

character is hilarious. I've actually met people like Stuart. It

is a great parody of the pop psychology "getting in-touch

with your feelings" movement and Franken is brilliant in

his portrayal. The problem is that the movie is just too long,

the characters over stereotyped, and at times the film

seems to drag on and on. I did enjoy the character of the evil dyke station manager(Franken's Boss). She could have been a James Bond villain. For all its weaknesses and flaws, I did enjoy

parts of this movie, but it could have been done much better.
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Filled with Heart
Ericman19 August 1998
"Stuart Saves His Family" is probably one of the only SNL movies that has heart to it. The movie is not only funny but it's message is one a lot of people with family problems like Stuart can relate to.
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A kind of serious comedy
bloewy28 January 2007
I am a fan of Al Frankin and had wanted to see this movie for quite a while. As it turns out, that was 12 years, but I finally saw Stuart Saves His Family on HBO. The short answer is that I liked it a lot, but not for the reasons that I was expecting to like it for. The movie was funny, but not really laugh out loud funny. The characters were too well developed for "laugh out loud". It would have felt mean to laugh at the alcoholic father who has no clue that he has a problem. The stoner brother who eventually figures out he's wasted his life. The enabler mother. The obese sister who deals with her stress by eating pound cake. I found myself rooting for these people, and not really wanting to laugh at them. There are certainly funny parts of the movie, and Al Frankin is a funny guy, but I think that the problem with Stuart Saves His Family is that it is too well done for an audience who want Wayne's World (One of my favorites, BTW) and instead got a serious movie about dysfunctional people with very real problems where you laugh with them and not at them.
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