"Family" Review: Family Over Everything?
Family is one of those movies where you take a despicable person, give them a small redeeming quality, and put them in a position or on an adventure that changes their lives positively, somewhat. So why watch a movie about a person you probably wouldn’t like in real life? Well with writer/director Laura Steinel at the helms and laugh out loud performances from Taylor Schilling and Kate McKinnon it’s definitely for the laughs and quirk.
Kate Stone (Schilling) is a career-focused woman who is oblivious to everything outside of working hard and climbing the corporate ladder. That includes her co-workers feelings, what comes out of her mouth and spending time with her estranged family. So when her brother (Eric Edelstein) calls her to come watch her niece, Maddie (Bryn Vale), it’s not a surprise that she’s reluctant.
The fish out of water aunt quickly learns Maddie’s habits, like going into the karate dojo led by Pete (Brian Tyree Henry) after ballet. Kate’s not good at babysitting. Laser focused on work, she leaves Maddie at a gas station where she meets a young juggalo (think Dead Head but Insane Clown Posse) who shows an interest in her. Kate also let’s her eat all the chicken parmesan she wants at night. Yet, the longer she hangs out with Maddie, she sees the part of herself that went cold after being ridiculed in her youth. It’s the ability to save her niece’s spirit that helps her heart grow three sizes.
This film is all about comedic timing. Schilling shows a comedic range that Orange Is The New Black fans may not have seen before. McKinnon makes brilliant choices that only she could as the nosy, fit mom next door. While Brian Tyree Henry’s awareness and ability to respond in a scene is so fun to watch. Steinel’s preparedness to get all the cast on the same page in setting a tone for the film is admirable.
Family is an indie, film festival lover’s film. You have to be willing to stay on board throughout the decrescendos in plot to move to the next funny moment. The life lesson and heart of the story has been done before, but it’s still an enjoyable retelling of it. A reminder to celebrate our eccentricities, and have your family’s back regardless is always welcomed.