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A Family Thing (1996)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  29 March 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 2,577 users   Metascore: 71/100
Reviews: 26 user | 26 critic | 17 from

Earl Pilcher Jr., runs an equipment rental outfit in Arkansas, lives with his wife and kids and parents, and rarely takes off his gimme cap. His mother dies, leaving a letter explaining ... See full summary »


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3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Aunt T.
Mary Jackson ...
James N. Harrell ...
Earl Pilcher Sr. (as James Harrell)
Lauren Leigh Phillips ...
Ashleigh Jordan ...
Sandra Quarterman ...
Young Aunt T. (as Saundra Quarterman)
Patrice Pitman Quinn ...
Willa Mae
Don James ...
Junior Turner


Earl Pilcher Jr., runs an equipment rental outfit in Arkansas, lives with his wife and kids and parents, and rarely takes off his gimme cap. His mother dies, leaving a letter explaining he's not her natural son, but the son of a Black woman who died in childbirth; plus, he has a half brother Ray, in Chicago, she wants him to visit. Earl makes the trip, initially receiving a cold welcome from Ray and Ray's son, Virgil. His birth mother's sister, Aunt T., an aged and blind matriarch, takes Earl in tow and insists that the family open up to him. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


United Artists Pictures invites you on a journey... you will not soon forget. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language, brief violence and a childbirth scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

29 March 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Un asunto de familia  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$10,118,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


James Earl Jones uses his actual stammer as part of his character. See more »


When Virgil & Ray are together in Virgil's car near the end Ray says that he hasn't been back to Virgil's hometown for 60 years which would be the birth year for Virgil however in an earlier scene Ray had confessed to having scarred Virgil by throwing a rock which had hit him as Virgil & his father were exiting a store. See more »


Aunt T.: Nobody ever knows what it's like for somebody else. That's always the problem.
See more »


Features Rocky III (1982) See more »


Gonna Get Faded
Written by Les Pierce
Produced by Nick Trevisick and Les Pierce
Performed by Les Pierce
See more »

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User Reviews

Family is relative
17 January 2000 | by (Houston, Texas) – See all my reviews

This is a movie that reminds one of the saying: "Just when I thought I knew the answers, they changed the questions." A Caucasian man discovers late in life that his mother was actually Black, instead of the White woman who raised him. The history of slavery in the US, and the American version of apartheid in the south that followed the Civil War until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and given the often "strained" relations that exist today; the subject matter is important and challenging. The result is that "A Family Thing" is a little gem. It speaks of bigotry, fear, the way things were and the way things are. Some White Americans will not be comfortable with this movie. This will be due to the bigoted nature of Mr. Duvall's character, metaphoric of White hatred towards Blacks. Then, his world crumbles when he discovers when all is not what it seems. Kudos to the producers(of whom Mr. Duvall was one) and the cast for a superb lesson in confronting hate, and how one special Aunt can heal wounds generations old.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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