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Movie review: 'The Family Tree'

A stellar supporting cast is largely wasted in an array of thankless, smaller roles.

August 26, 2011|By Gary Goldstein
  • Director Vivi Friedman's inability to successfully reconcile the film's duality undercuts an eclectic cast, including (left to right) Hope Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Max Thieriot and Britt Robertson, gamely committed to Mark Lisson's thematically ambitious, if scattered, script.
Director Vivi Friedman's inability to successfully reconcile the… (Will McGarry )

Yet another cinematic slice of suburban dysfunction, "The Family Tree" works better as a serious look at a family's second chance at happiness than when it pushes its darkly comic agenda about an Ohio community's various peccadilloes.

Director Vivi Friedman's inability to successfully reconcile the film's duality undercuts an eclectic cast gamely committed to Mark Lisson's thematically ambitious, if scattered, script.

An ill-gotten clonk on the head gives bitter, two-timing wife Bunnie Burnett (Hope Davis) a case of amnesia that helps her forget how messed up she and her underachieving husband, Jack (Dermot Mulroney), truly are, not to mention the irritation she harbors for their rebellious 17-year-old twins, Eric (Max Thieriot) and Kelly (Brittany Robertson).

Can Bunnie and Jack rekindle their past and provide a solid future for their floundering kids before Bunnie's full memory reappears? Unfortunately, answering this question is mitigated by a host of less intriguing story strands involving religious hypocrisy, sexual confusion, accidental death, juvenile crime, gun control and office politics.

Chi McBride, Madeline Zima and John Patrick Amedori offer amusing support here, but Keith Carradine, Jane Seymour, Christina Hendricks, Gabrielle Anwar, Shad "Bow Wow" Moss, Evan Handler, Rachael Leigh Cook and, especially, Selma Blair, are largely wasted in an array of thankless, smaller roles.


"The Family Tree." MPAA rating: R for sexual content, pervasive language, drug use and some violence. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, West Hollywood.

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