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:: It Runs In The Family


It Runs In The Family is a bland, middle class story about a bland, middle class family, a story that would never have got off the ground were it not for the involvement of the Douglas family. Three generations of Douglas’s appear in the film, Kirk Douglas as the patriarch, Mitchell Gromberg, his son Michael Douglas, as his son Alex Gromberg, and his son (Kirk’s grandson) Cameron as Asher Gromberg. Rory Culkin, member of a nouveau Hollywood family himself with one of his brothers already a has-been and staging a comeback in his early twenties (Macauley), plays the youngest son and acts Cameron Douglas off the screen. To add to the nepotism, Kirk Douglas’s first wife, Diana Douglas plays his wife, the long-suffering peacemaker in the family. It remained only for Catherine Zeta Jones to play Michael’s wife, but she wisely chose to stay away.

There are many, allegedly unintentional parallels between the Grombergs and the Douglas’s- alienation between fathers and sons, drug use, infidelity. It is the voyeuristic urge to see a moment of actual truth that keeps this film bearable, though undoubtedly the only people who know how close the film is to their lives if at all is the Douglas’s and they’re not likely to tell. Otherwise, it’s a melange of all the standard melodrama plots and everyone learns their lesson at the end. The characters aren’t particularly memorable - the direction does not call attention to itself, the cinematography is serviceable and, much like the film, nothing to write home about.

The film weaves the stories of the three generations and covers none with any depth or new insight. They all converge when a series of crises hit the family within a couple of hours of each other. By this point though, Cameron Douglas has become too annoying to bear. His romance with a seemingly intelligent, if far too skinny, girl is completely incomprehensible. Michael Douglas’s attempts at being likeable by working in soup kitchen remains entirely implausible, and Rory Culkin’s romance with a twelve year old runaway is too slow moving and lacking in import, and boredom has set in. Kirk Douglas manages to emerge as the most sympathetic and dignified of the lot, despite a speech impediment since his real life stroke.

There’s nothing here to offend or to delight. For something mindless to do, it’s better than most things on offer at the moment.