|Index||6 reviews in total|
First off, Christina Hendricks fans: don't waste your time. She's in
the film for all of three minutes (long enough for the camera to linger
longingly on her chest, of course) and otherwise doesn't have much to
do with the plot.
While pleasant enough, this movie comes off as slap-dash and unfocused. It just doesn't know where it wants to go, which story/character it really wants to follow. This is partly the fault of being based on the "dysfunctional family" trope, which works best when we still manage to care/sympathize/identify with at least one of the family members. The problem here is that we can't: the mother's a bitch, the father's an impotent robot, the son's a gun-obsessed Jesus freak (the gun obsession serving only to telegraph the ending), and the awful mother-in-law doesn't actually appear until the very end of the film. Only the fake-slut daughter comes off as somewhat sympathetic, but the film refuses to focus on her character, and she remains somewhat of a stick-figure (figuratively and literally).
The lack of focus comes through from the very beginning: the film starts with a voice-over, of the gun-freak son, but abruptly drops the voice-over, only to revive it again at the very end -- in order to give a film-standard wearily wise "look at how much we've learned" speech that doesn't really work. The voice-over might have worked better if the son had been the central character and the film had been meant to examine his growth -- but he isn't and the film doesn't.
All in all, it appears the director/writer didn't have a clear idea about what movie they were making. The result is a slapdash, unfocused effort.
Still, for all that, the movie was pleasant enough to sit through, with a few funny bits and good performances from the actors. Not something I'd recommend paying for -- wait for it to hit cable.
This movie is a pleasant surprise, with a great cast and a "Twin Peaks" sense of weirdness underneath the veneer of suburbia. Hope Davis is a bored, bitchy housewife who pours her energy into fund raisers for ridiculous causes and a kinky affair with her neighbor. Her daughter is the school slut, her son is a mixed up Jesus freak misfit with an unexpected gift for target shooting and her husband, Dermot Mulroney, is in a dead end job trying to please a boss he hates. It all turns into a crazy do-over when wifey hits her head during one of her sexual escapades and wakes up with amnesia. Gang bangers, a football star literally caught with his pants down and a dope smoking priest (played to the hilt by Keith Carradine)all figure in to a madcap climax. "Family Tree" is a gem, don't miss it.
"I bet we're the first family ever to be fired by their therapist"
After the mother (Davis) of a severely dysfunctional family has an
accident and hits her head she wakes up with memory loss. She learns
what she was like and what her family life was like and the entire
family gets a chance to change. This is very very funny dark comedy. By
very dark I mean it opens with someone accidentally hanging himself
spying on the mother in bed. From there it gets darker and more and
more strange. For those that like edgy humor seen in "Death To Smoochy"
or newer movies like "Peep World" and "Super" then this one is for you.
If you are easily offended I would stay away from this one. I however
thought it was very funny. The only problem was that it got a little
repetitive toward the end. Overall, a very funny movie that is not for
everyone. I give it a B.
*Also try - Peep World
Very funny with lots of quirks. This is a truly dark comedy about a
dysfunctional family that patches itself back together again after the
mom (Hope Davis) suffers a bout of amnesia after falling in the
bathroom during an affair with her neighbor. The whole family has
issues, and they start to put everything behind them when they see how
destructive their family has become.Dermot and Hope do a great job.
Definitely worth going to see. A wonderful ensemble cast that works very well together. Max Theriot and JP Amedori are breakout stars in the making. Most of these actors play against type, which makes it even funnier. Great music and wonderful dialog. Definitely worth seeing. We were laughing in the edit bay! Beautifully shot and directed. Watch for Christina Hendricks-she is a hoot!
"The Family Tree" is the hopelessly misleading title of a frighteningly
misanthropic would-be comedy that pretends to be a clever, black satire
on modern day family values and American culture. But instead of
provoking guilty laughs along with sharp insights, the horrifyingly
television-esque picture defies its own intentions and produces anger
as opposed to wit. And I can only imagine that if anybody can find the
kindness in themselves to laugh at it, then they must really be feeling
Basically, if you are white, black, married, single, religious, anti-religious, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, on drugs, anti-drugs, studious, rebellious, blue-collar, white-collar - a human being, in other words - the picture holds you with the absolute lowest of regard. The movie centers on a family, not a family tree, and their dopey neighbors and associates. It opens with a laughless scene of the family visiting a shrink, then goes to a high school peeping tom climbing into a tree at night, spying into the family's window and the wife's chest while masturbating. A squirrel startles him, he slips, gets the loop of the binoculars around his neck, and hangs himself.
Yes, he dies.
While he decomposes in the tree, we follow the rest of the characters. The wife gives herself amnesia while having sex with the nextdoor neighbor, the hypocritical religious son starts doing drugs while simultaneously developing a crush on a homosexual classmate, a neighbor finds himself associate with a couple of black hip-robbers. Oh, by the way, these are just a few of the numerous subplots that attempt to provide some dark insights of American life.
It's trying to be a picture like "30 Minutes or Less," a much-superior film released earlier this year. Neither film holds its audience with very high regard. So what is the difference between the two pictures and why is one a modestly successful and entertaining film with some laughs and insights and the other a sprawling, anger-inducing mess. The answer, I think, is that "30 Minutes or Less" had the wits and the courage to acknowledge what it was and play its satirical elements to a hilt. That way when I laughed at its black comic moments, I was feeling guilty for laughing at it, but being able to forgive myself because at the same time, the movie was offering some wicked and fascinating insights about contemporary culture and lifestyles.
"The Family Tree" only offers pseudo-insights. It never comes full term with what it is or what it wants to be or what it should be, and sparks anger as opposed to insights and laughs. Add to that some shoddy performance and a horrifically lamefooted directing style and the picture really bogs down. The movie is crammed with uncomfortably overpopulated close-ups and cheesy lighting reminiscent of dopey television comedies, not surprising seeing as how its director, Vivi Friedman, came from that field. The picture is just about an hour and a half long and it feels twice that length because it is so joylessly inept. Its specialty is not in providing information or laughs, but jolts of anger and groaning.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a little freak thing is this movie! A weird family goes through a difficult time when the mothers gets a relative amnesia. Father is a turning-a-blind-eye man; mother is unfaithful and has a creepy fetish involving bandits; sister is an annoying and arrogant teenager that seems to overrate sex, whilst her brother is virgin and religious. There isn't much to expect about this story, considering there isn't a single enjoyable character. Also, sometimes the film feels tiresome. One of the few good things about it is the way writers portray religious fanaticism, using some ironical elements to make it's portrait. Kinda original story, but bad picture anyways.
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