By Mike Dub
*Opening today at the Vogue Theater in San Francisco.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a personal, indie comedy-drama about a wealthy but dysfunctional family, headed by a neurotic narcissist, that reunites for a long holiday weekend. Over the course of the vacation, spoiled adults reengage in their childhood roles, an overbearing mother tortures her family with incessant criticisms, a disaffected father drinks silently in the background (save for the occasional charmingly racist rant) until he is required by the narrative to give perfect fatherly advice, two strained relationships are healed through the catharsis of maturity, two near-death experiences occur, and long held secrets reveal epiphanies about the true nature of family.
Along the way we meet a large cast of characters (at least six too many), anchored by a very good character actor (Patricia Clarkson), a superfluous guest star (Judith Light, aka Angela from Who’s the Boss?), and a series of up-and-comers who flounder from a lack of direction and style. Of course, none of the actors receive any help from the paper-thin script, which reeks of autobiographical dialogue ripped straight from the dinner table: “All the young people take Fridays off in the summer… I didn’t take a Friday off until I was fifty.” “They would understand if you don’t show up for work, they know you don’t need the money.” “You own a loft, you pay for everything with a Platinum card, you put on a $75 moisturizer every morning!” Oh, did I mention that the main character in the movie is a writer? And that he…
Oh, you have heard this one before? OK, I’ll stop.