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STUDIO Variance Films
RUNNING TIME 84 minutes
- No special features
How does a serious Catholic woman deal with a less-than-perfect family?
Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel, Jason Ritter
A stilted portrait of a pious Catholic living in the modern world, The Perfect Family attempts, but fails, to find humor in the beliefs of traditional Catholics.
I had high hopes for this movie. Come on. Kathleen Turner. Romancing the Stone? War of the Roses? She’s sharp and funny. But this is a very Lifetime-esque plot with dialogue that makes it look like the actors are reading from a book. And most of Kathleen Turner’s acting is just her walking around with her mouth open and breathing deeply.
I think the movie was created with the idea that it would be funny to a serious Catholic, but serious Catholics don’t laugh at themselves. There is a “joke” about mistaking a corn dog for fish sticks (obviously in reference to Lent). How many non-Catholics would get that reference? The most cliché line of the movie is probably when Turner tells her daughter, “I don’t need to think, I’m Catholic.” Ok, we get it – Catholics live by the rules.
The title comes from that fact that Turner is in competition with her arch enemy, Sharon Lawrence, to win Catholic Woman of the Year within her diocese. They’ve both been in competition for positions before, roles in plays and pageant leadership. The Monsignor at Turner’s church thinks she’ll win because her family is the perfect family.
But every standard “scandal” is built into this movie. The lesbian daughter who is having a baby with her partner. The alcoholic father. The brother who married his girlfriend when he got her pregnant. One interesting piece of Turner’s history does add a bit of a surprise to the movie, but it’s only mentioned and then never discussed or explored. It really does nothing to move along the story.
And the relationships between the family members don’t make sense. Why is Turner so involved with church, but the church knows nothing about her daughter’s relationship status? Why does Turner seem surprised that her daughter is a lesbian when she’s been eating dinner at her mom’s house every week for years? I grew up in a serious Catholic family and you can’t hide things like that. Everyone knows.
A lot of time is spent showing just how pious Turner is, but it’s not interesting. The movie starts with Kathleen Turner (Eileen Cleary) coming to a complete stop at a stop sign and smiling to herself – because she’s such an upstanding citizen. At confession she worries about going to hell for taking the Lord’s name in vain and daydreaming while a Sister is talking. What would be interesting would be if the movie would have spent more time on the relationships. Supposedly Turner’s husband was an alcoholic who cheated on Turner. But he just seems like a sweet, mild-mannered man who wants to please his wife. It’s hard to imagine that he deserves the cold treatment he gets from Turner.
I guess The Perfect Family is trying to teach you the lesson that living a rigid life with rules dictated by a man wearing a dress and fancy hat is only going to lead to heartache. It’s best to examine what’s important in your life and allow your values to be dictated by that.
No special features included. You’re stuck just watching the movie.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars