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  • 2 Theatrical trailer - Riding In Cars With Boys, Stepmom

Immediate Family

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 96 mins . M15+ . PAL


Some people have trouble getting the hint. This is true throughout all facets of life, but is addressed in this film as the main players of Glenn Close and James Woods being unable to conceive a child. They try and they try (always good work if you can get it) and go through IVF and such before finally deciding it ain’t gonna happen. What now then? Well, why don’t we adopt?

Enter Mary Stuart Masterson. She’s up the duff and like 19 or something and ill prepared for parenthood. And so, tentatively, a relationship develops between the three as she comes to full term. Then her boyfriend Kevin Dillon shows up and the four of them have a laugh, before he goes back home, she has the baby and all bets are suddenly off. That baby’s so cuuuute! I’m gonna keep her, regardless of my shit life in a trailer park.

This is cannon fodder for the Kleenex set. Except it isn’t all that weepy. There are plenty of ‘womanly’ moments and cluckiness and stuff, but the film never really goes as deep as it thinks it does. The relationship that develops between Masterson and Close is sweet, but Woods hanging around feels kinda like a third wheel. And as for Kevin Dillon, well he barely needed to be in the film at all. Except to show how good these two kids are who just made a little mistake with their lovin’.

It’s a rather ordinary tale that, while watchable, runs a little long at 96 minutes and is so predictable by film’s end if you don’t see it coming you are either asleep or watching your microwave. Very midday movie calibre this, with barely even worthwhile performances from some of these Hollywood elite. Whilst being adequate, there really isn’t enough for anyone involved to get their teeth into scriptwise and that ends up leaving the whole film very lacklustre.


Another beautiful production from the Sony DVD Center has transformed the mundane into the impressive. A magnificently clear picture is delivered in the cinema aspect of 1.85:1 with 16:9 anamorphic enhancement and that helps a lot when you’re watching a slow burner like this ’un. There aren’t many film artefacts, at least that I could see, and the chrome and blacks look '80s-natural. The other colours in the underused palette are all okay if a teensy bit washed out, but films of this one’s age will do that.

Flesh tones all look realistic enough, although I coulda lived without such a clear picture on the mullet cut of Ms Masterson’s. Yeesh, brave girl. Apart from that, though, all is fine and even the shadows and night shots are well lit and full of detail.


Struggling so hard to get out of those horrid old '80s, this film is eternally mired there with some of the musical choices for the soundtrack. Not to say it’s bad, because it isn’t. It includes some huge notables of the time including the Talking Heads, The Pretenders, JJ Cale, Eric Clapton and even Otis Redding joining the party. The music is part of the appeal of this film, as the two worlds of late teens and early 30s are bridged by the unusual alliance of the story. It all sounds great, anyway, with some nice resonance and acoustics and all that (and if you can live with the cringe factor of Glenn Close and Mary Stuart Masterson dancing together to Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. Great song, by the way).

As to dialogue, this is all well said and quietly deliberate, but again is let down by the actual content of the script. The story could have been much more powerful with a better script behind it. However...

Lastly, whatever sound effects are used are well synched and unnoticeable, which is of course how they’re supposed to be.


There's little else but the veiled sales pitch in the related trailers. There are but two in the form of the sweet Drew Barrymore film Riding in Cars With Boys delivered in 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement and the Julia Roberts vehicle Stepmom. This last one is in 2.35:1 with 16:9 enhancement and has a ratty voiceover that is pure annoyance.


I wanted to use the descriptive term tearjerker for this, but I guess I missed the point or something. Maybe that’s because I don’t have any kids or perhaps that’s because the script didn’t wring them from me. I dunno, I guess that’s for you to judge. I thought Close and Woods were wasted here as both are capable of so much more than this meagre story allowed for.

However, if you’re looking for an easily watched, rarely challenging midday movie type of film with some nice music and a cautious yet watchable plot, this is your bag. Otherwise, check out either of the two films advertised here as trailers.

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      And I quote...
    "Some class acting talent isn’t utilised anywhere near its ability in this '80s yawner."
    - Jules Faber
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