7.0/10
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28 user 27 critic

A Family Thing (1996)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 29 March 1996 (USA)
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 »

Director:

Richard Pearce
3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Duvall ... Earl Pilcher Jr.
James Earl Jones ... Ray Murdock
Michael Beach ... Virgil
Irma P. Hall ... Aunt T.
Grace Zabriskie ... Ruby
Regina Taylor ... Ann
Mary Jackson ... Carrie
Paula Marshall ... Karen
James N. Harrell James N. Harrell ... Earl Pilcher Sr. (as James Harrell)
Lauren Leigh Phillips Lauren Leigh Phillips ... Kindra
Ashleigh Jordan Ashleigh Jordan ... Danielle
David Keith ... Sonny
Sandra Quarterman Sandra Quarterman ... Young Aunt T. (as Saundra Quarterman)
Patrice Pitman Quinn Patrice Pitman Quinn ... Willa Mae
Don James Don James ... Junior Turner
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Duvall plays a bigot coming to grips with the fact that he has previously unknown black ancestry and relatives. Duvall's real family tree includes the fact that he is distantly related (eighth cousins twice removed) to Barack Obama, the first black U.S. President, albeit through Obama's mother Stanley Ann Dunham, who was white. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[last lines]
Earl Pilcher, Sr.: Now listen, this is not going to be like a Sunday picnic, I'm gonna tell you that right now. Ruby and my girls will be alright, I guess, but that nephew of mine makes your boy look like Mahatma Gandhi.
Raymond "Ray" Lee Murdock: Whoa.
Earl Pilcher, Sr.: He might take a shot at you, or maybe both of us.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The original script that this movie was based on was titled "Latent Blood" by L Guy Burton. Burton did not get credit for the rewrite after giving the script to his agent at the time, The Berzon Agency of California. See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Memo to the Academy - 1997 (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Family Thing Blues
Written and Performed by The Nightclub Band
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User Reviews

Acceptance & forgiveness - if only it was this easy
24 September 2001 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

A Family Thing is a drama about a Southen man (Duvall) who's mother reveals on her deathbed that he was not her child. Rather he was the result of a forced encounter between his father and the black help. In order to keep a promise Duvall sets off to find his half-brother (Earl-Jones).

Although the story seems to be about race - it's main theme is one of forgiveness and acceptance of others, with race being one of the barriers to break down.

All the characters have their own barriers to overcome - Duvall has to confront the fact that he is not white, Earl-Jones has to deal with his hatred of past events and Michael Beach has to come to terms with missing out on pro-football and the breakup of his marriage. Only the sagely aunt T. (Irma P. Hall) has the ability to accept everyone for whom they are - partly due to being blind "and not being able to judge folks on what they look like".

It's not an earth shattering piece of story telling and at times doesn't seem to have a consistent flow to it but it held my attention throughout and was actually quite rewarding.

It's all a bit tidy (in real life, nothing gets sorted this easy), but it definately makes you think.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM [United States]

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 March 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Family Thing See more »

Filming Locations:

Covington, Tennessee, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,020,662, 31 March 1996

Gross USA:

$10,125,417

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,125,417
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | DTS-Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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