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It Runs in the Family (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  25 April 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 3,894 users   Metascore: 44/100
Reviews: 46 user | 58 critic | 28 from

This is the story of a dysfunctional New York family, and their attempts to reconcile.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Abby Staley (as Irene Gorovaia)
Mark Hammer ...
Sarah Langley


Wealth can't spare three male generations of the dysfunctional Jewish New York Gromberg family grief or grim reality. However successful in life, Alex never felt pleasing pride or proper parental support from sprightly patriarch Mitchell, who sarcastically imposes his own values and priorities on everyone and everything. Alex starts despairing that his modern permissiveness may ruin his own bright firstborn, college-boy Asher, unlike adoring kid-brother Eli. A dorm-drug-bust pushes things to the limit -- or beyond? Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

college | play | party | jewish | misfit | See All (208) »


Some families can survive anything. Even each other.


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for drug content, sexual material and language | See all certifications »


Official Sites:




| |

Release Date:

25 April 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Few Good Years  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,804,441 (USA) (25 April 2003)


$7,375,836 (USA) (23 May 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When Asher is working on his writing project, he is seen changing the title from "Smack in the Puss" to "Smack in the Kisser" to "Family Jewels"; these were early script titles for this movie. See more »


Mitchell Gromberg: Alex, you're a much better father than I was.
Alex Gromberg: Thank you. But you didn't exactly set the bar all that high.
See more »


Referenced in Bad Movie Beatdown: Scissors (2012) See more »


Forget Regret
Written by Jacques Schwarz-Bart
Performed by Roy Hargrove featuring Stephanie McKay
Courtesy of The Verve Music Group
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

The Douglas Mishpocha Make a Movie

Boy, "It Runs in the Family" has set off more than a few critics' hot buttons. This unusual ensemble production, with most of the main characters played by the Douglas clan, is ruled in reality and in this quirky pastiche of intergenerational and marital disharmony and reconciliation by the great paterfamilias, Kirk.

Having escaped death in an aviation disaster, Kirk Douglas was felled, but hardly destroyed, by a very serious stroke. The neurological event left his speech but not other faculties impaired. He moves pretty well for his age. Damn well! Speech therapy has only taken him so far - forget the sharp voice of the star of roaring Westerns or a Viking saga. But the acting ability, the skill in projecting emotion, the cunning character who draws the viewer into a picture - Kirk Douglas is STILL Kirk Douglas.

The story is pedestrian, soap operish, New York, Jewish culture-inflected (Kirk Douglas rediscovered his Jewish roots not that long ago, celebrated an aged man's well-publicized Bar Mitzvah and wrote a book about his renewed commitment to Judaism). His son, Michael, not exactly unknown to the screen, is his son in "It Runs in the Family" and no amount of acting need substitute for the palpably real love between the characters. Douglas pere is the elder lawyer and his son is a partner in his firm, a man yearning for public service and elective office.

A few other Douglas clan members act and Joel Douglas co-produced the film. Catherine Zeta-Jones, occupied with pregnancy or other projects or litigation in London over wedding photos, didn't make the scene but Bernadette Peters is well cast as Michael's spouse. She's a therapist dealing with the problems that often arise in a two-decade-old marriage. Rory Culkin strongly plays Eli, an eleven-year-old whose walking-on-eggs approach to teenagehood is both sensitively portrayed and genuinely affecting.

The misadventures of the clan are really events that hit many families but few are so unlucky as to endure this much tsouris. But the ending...well, see it.

Some folks seem to have a real problem viewing Kirk Douglas act WITH and THROUGH his controlled but ineradicable disability. I've heard people say he has no business making films anymore (one critic wrote that). What are these people really saying? That the sight of a powerful man whose waves of vitality are awesome but who is in the sunset of his life ought not to parade genuine incapacity on the screen? Does it scare some that his slurred speech is the only aspect of his screen persona that isn't acted? I wonder.

See the film not because it's a great story - we've seen these melodramatic episodes many times over - but for the pleasure of watching people connected in real life explore myriad challenges with passion, humor, empathy and caring.


24 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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