From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Mon Feb 20 21:09:04 2017
THE FAMILY FANG (2016)
A film review by David N. Butterworth
Copyright 2017 David N. Butterworth
** (out of ****)
Jason Bateman has appeared in a lot of dysfunctional family dramas--"Juno," "The Change-Up," "This Is Where I Leave You" (for starters), plus the
entire four seasons of "Arrested Development"--and now, with "The Family
Fang," he's directing them as well. It took him a few years to finally out-muscle his super successful sister Justine (Mallory on the long-running "Family Ties") but now he's a staple of many a sitcom and rom-com and, yes, indie films like "The Family Fang," a real Debbie Downer of a drama if ever there was one. One wonders what kind of a childhood Jason must have had to
be so consistently drawn, moth-like, to the dysfunctional family flame.
For his sophomore directorial effort (following 2013's "Bad Words," which
was dark but fun), Bateman has tackled an adaptation of Kevin Wilson's bestseller about a pair of adult siblings struggling to break free of their performance-artist parents' grasp. Bateman and Nicole Kidman play the downtrodden progeny; Christopher Walken and "Blue Valentine"'s Maryann
Plunkett are the parents, Caleb and Camille Fang, psychotics both. From an audience's perspective, the parents' art is questionable at best--typically candid camera-type stunts featuring their semi-amenable offspring Annie and Baxter. Unfortunately, the film's tone wobbles between morose and slack,
with nobody to like or care about, no emotional vein to tap, not even a
modicum of humor. Instead, we're left hoping, not unlike sibs "A" and "B"
as they're known, that the missing parents are in fact gone for good, not simply working on their "swansong piece."