Family has its moments, falls a bit flat

Bryn Vale and Taylor Schilling in Family. Courtesy of The Film Arcade.

Family may have its moments but there’s no reason why this star-studded comedy doesn’t work any better than it absolutely should.

Kate Stone (Taylor Schilling) is the career-oriented woman working for a hedge fund in New Jersey.  She’s firm in her beliefs.  One could say that this is how she climbed the corporate ladder to be senior vice president.  Kate goes as far as to tell new employee Erin (Jessie Ennis) to not make friends or celebrate birthdays.  She also believes that any women getting pregnant have decided to end their careers.  As such, Kate is not an easy person to work with.  The rest of the office likely views her as a bitch.  Now if this were a man in the role, would the opinion be different?  Probably.  Most likely.

Anyway, her brother, Joe (Eric Edelstein), calls her at work.  With Kate’s attitude, it’s no surprise that the two siblings don’t have a great relationship.  The call is so important that she ends up making the trek out to his home.  It turns out that sister-in-law Cheryl’s (Allison Tollman) mother is dying.  As such, one day of babysitting Maddie (Bryn Vale) turns into a full week.  If Kate has her way, this would disrupt as little of her work as possible.  But as the two of them hang out, they seem to bond with each other.  While things are starting to look positive for the two, Maddie runs off to the Gathering of the Juggalos.

Writer-director Laurel Steinel does manage to change up the genre just a bit.  Schilling’s Kate is someone that could otherwise have been presented in the form of a man.  This is a definite plus with having a woman writing the film.  It adds to the double-standards that we see take place so often, both in media and real life.

There are many actors with roots in comedy in this film.  Comedians Kate McKinnon and Blair Beeken have minor supporting roles in the film.  While I do like them, there’s just something about the film that didn’t hit with me.  I can’t exactly put my finger on it.  Someone can be career-oriented but still have fun with their life.  Maybe this is it?  I should stress first and foremost that comedy is subjective.  What appeals to one viewer will not appeal to another and vice versa here.  When Family works, it absolutely works.  When it doesn’t work, that’s the part that feels like it should have worked better than it did.

While it’s funny at times, the comedy feels like it falls just a bit short in Family but–again–the genre is so subjective that it’s different for every viewer.

CAST:  Taylor Schilling, Brian Tyree Henry, Bryn Vale, Allison Tolman, Jessie Ennis, Matt Walsh, Eric Edelstein, Fabrizio Guido, and Peter Horton

The Film Arcade opened Family in theaters on April 19, 2019. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.