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  Directed by
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Turkish: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, Italian, Hebrew, Russian, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Commentary - Russian, Commentary - Italian, Commentary - Norwegian, Commentary - Danish, Commentary - Finnish, Commentary - Swedish
  • Deleted scenes
  • Audio commentary - Dir. Fred Schepisi
  • 2 Featurette

It Runs in the Family (Rental)

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . M15+ . PAL


As I’ve grown older (and hopefully wiser) my thoughts of late have turned more and more to my relationship with my parents. With a son of my own, and myself being one of six children, I’ve come to appreciate the hardship my mother and father have had to endure in trying to keep a roof above our heads, food on the table and an eduction in that empty space in our skulls.

It took the process of moving out of home many years ago and putting some distance between us to formally begin this process of understanding, even though I wasn’t consciously aware of this ‘mental shift’ being in motion at the time, the physical move just being something I wanted to do with the next stage of my life.

But as the years progressed, I desired a better relationship with my folks, having been less than amicable in the past. I started to slowly understand that the fighting and arguments, the disagreements, the rebellion, the outright destructive nature of my attitude could have been pinpointed to and caused by one person – me.

It’s only now, with my young son still in his first few years, but daily growing in his ability to frustrate me often into disbelief, that I realise that the role of a parent is to unconditionally love and nurture and supply for their children, regardless of what the child does in return.

There are hard lessons to be taught (and just as hard to be learnt), but you can only progress with the hope that one day everything you’ve done as a parent comes to fruition, and your relationship with your child develops into that of adults who admire and respect each others beliefs, opinions and actions. We might not see eye to eye on everything, but we can respect the other persons point of view.

This dynamic to some degree comes into play in the Douglas family’s self indulgent saga, It Runs in the Family. Bringing together generations of the Douglas clan, the story looks at the drama and humour a family can face when old and young generations have to (or want to) come to terms with each other.

Michael Douglas is the central role, a successful lawyer having to deal with problems with his father (Kirk Douglas here defiantly continuing to deny the debilitating after effect of his stroke) and his own son (and real son, Cameron Douglas), while dealing with the problems he’s created for himself and his wife (Bernadette Peters) through the prospect of an affair with a colleague at a charity service he volunteers at.

Jumping from drama to drama, and peppering it lightly with comedy, Australian director Fred Schepisi doesn’t seem entirely able to draw a breath and let a single scene unfold without soon throwing another shattering event their way. But with so many Douglas’s on set, you can imagine he was there to fill a seat while the family got down to the real reason they were there, which is fulfil a desire to work together before it was too late. As such, it’s hard not to be critical at its failings, but in the right frame of mind, and perhaps viewed in the right stage of your own life, there are more than a few moments on screen which may echo sentiments that have crossed your mind when considering your relationship with your own family.


An appealing picture, presented in a 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 ratio, It Runs In The Family comes up smiling with rich natural colours and solid shadows. The brighter scenes are still well balanced and the transfer has natural and comfortable looking scenes that are simply composed for a big screen. Detail is fairly good, but the picture is a little more grainy than I recall it being theatrically, with edge enhancement occasionally obvious. That's more plusses than minuses, so it's a win for the DVD.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is only here to do one thing, and that is carry the dialogue from the centre channel to either your heart strings or funny bone from time to time. Anything else it does it transparent enough not to draw attention, and it certainly doesn’t sound like they were too concerned about testing the limits of the average home system.

It is interesting to see the scoring credit go to another Aussie, Paul Grabowsky (or as you may remember him as ‘Count’ Paul, as the annoying Steve Vizard used to call him on his Letterman ripoff lateshow), no doubt brought on board by Schepisi.


Hardly extensive, but for the mediocre box office mojo takings this film reaped, it’s surprising it gets anything at all. Do I smell even more Douglas vanity at work here? It’s not enough that they all made the film, they had to have a commentary to discuss their own film, but oddly it only features director Schepisi discussing amongst other things (most obviously) working with family while still tackling more creative points along the way. This one just teeters on the edge of boring, but he occasional throws up something that is interesting.

Two featurettes, Family Makes You Nuts and All that Grit: Kirk Douglas and the Movies are slightly more self centred vanity pieces in keeping with the overall tone of the project as a whole, but then who’d be willing to begrudge Kirk something that he has clearly earned in his many years as a film icon?

A paltry 3 Deleted Scenes are also thrown in, not particularly changing the tone of the story or presenting anything to make us revise what has already come before us.


A film and story not for everyone (as other reviews and ticket takings have born out already), yet not something to be dismissed entirely either with the right company and right state of mind. I just happened to see it theatrically at the right time and place for me and found something I liked, even if it was flawed. Check it out for yourself, or rent it for your parents. What’s 6 bucks compared to the blood, sweat and tears they’ve spent on you?

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3889
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      And I quote...
    "Looks at the drama and humour a family can face when old and young generations have to (or want to) come to terms with each other."
    - Vince Carrozza
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