An Unexpected Family (1996)

TV Movie  |  PG  |   |  Drama  |  4 December 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 275 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 2 critic

When Ruth Whitney abandons her two children with her sister Barbara is left to take care of them, at first none of them like it but soon they grow to like each other. Then over a year later... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Chelsea Russo ...
Harry Weinstock (as Benjamin Ratner)
Court Clerk
Detective Barry Fox
Charles Siegel ...
Dr. Fred


When Ruth Whitney abandons her two children with her sister Barbara is left to take care of them, at first none of them like it but soon they grow to like each other. Then over a year later Ruth comes back saying she wants her kids and Barbara goes to court to fight for custody. Written by Angela Crawford

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, language and brief violence | See all certifications »





Release Date:

4 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Az égből pottyant család  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?


Barbara tells Matt and Meghan that she is nervous about them walking to school on thier own. Matt makes a comment on how she made them watch the movie Without a Trace (1983) 10 times. Stockard Channing was one of the stars of the movie. See more »


Matt Whitney: That's a stupid reason
Barbara Whitney: One of many you'll come across as you grow up.
See more »


Followed by An Unexpected Life (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Surprisingly good?
21 May 2002 | by (Leeds, England) – See all my reviews

Ok, I make NO BONES of this, but I don't really like Stockard Channing, I think to be honest that she's quite a bad actor... But in this movie she was actually rather really very good! She manages to portray this role with some emotion and also manages to prove that perhaps she CAN take care of kids (not to mention her own career!)

I liked this movie for what it was, there were some bits that I didn't agree with and since I wasn't actually paying my full and undivided attention to it (although I DID watch it again afterwards) it was something that made me think `ahhhhhh.' This movie IS heart warming and designed with children and family in mind make no mistake! It's something that you sit down on a night and watch with your family and spend half the movie thinking that the mother was right! Don't you wish you could just drop your kids off sometimes and run the hell away? I know it isn't a good moral, but Stockard manages to carry off the portrayal of a person who has no idea what to do with children, and she manages to say some VERY cutting comments during this movie! I never realised the old girl had it in here!

The acting was rather good, Stockard was VERY good, and child actors… well, what else can I say other than `child actors' with deep sarcasm. The man was good, he managed to play the role of a caring `father type' without the problem's people now associate with a man who `likes' children… The mother of the children did her best, but looked like she belonged in a rehab clinic more than on stage of a movie set (which was the point I guess…) but it was rather good I think.

The story line was something that was rather good even though I thought that it sped along rather fast sometimes. The end with the court case was something that I could have gone without and the `Shock' revelation towards the end was something that I was expecting. It appears that Stockard can't do a movie lately without her being some sort of drink crazed women at one point of her life or another! I guess she just has that look about her which says `I've been in rehab fives times and I've been clean for the past 5 months.' (Stockard fans forgive me!)

This is something I would watch and forget about in the next five minutes after it being on, but I give it credit. For a TV movie it was rather well thought out and done and the acting (for what its worth) was rather very good indeed. Watch this if your feeling low about your family and realise that no matter how bad you might think you are at parenting, you could be worse! And at very least sit the kids down and tell them that if they're not good you'll leave them with your drunk aunt `so and so' for a few years' Hehehe, should shut them up for a while! But otherwise, sit back and enjoy, this movie is just rather nice, not good! But nice.

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