Friday, May 11, 2012

The Perfect Family (opens in Cleveland May 11th at the Cedar Lee Theatre)

[THE PERFECT FAMILY opens in Cleveland on Friday May 11 th exclusively at the Cedar Lee Theatre.]

Review by Bob Ignizio

Ann Renton's light comedy THE PERFECT FAMILY is fully aware that its title refers to something that doesn't exist, at least in any objective sense. Families are by their very nature messy and unpredictable, and any attempt to make them conform to some arbitrary set of standards is not only doomed to fail, but usually counterproductive. That's a lesson Eileen Cleary (Kathleen Turner) has yet to learn when she finds out she's been nominated for “Catholic Woman of the Year”.

Eileen's Catholic credentials are impeccable – she helps Monsignor Murphy (Richard Chamberlain) with communion, delivers “meals on wheels” to shut-ins, and seems possessed of a sincere and unsanctimonious piety. The problem is her family: Husband Frank (Michael McGrady) is a recovering alcoholic, son Frank Jr. (Jason Ritter) is in the midst of leaving his wife, and daughter Shannon (Emily Deschanel) is pregnant and about to get married... to another woman. Eileen figures her only hope at winning the award is to try and “fix” her family, a plan that has predictably disastrous results.

THE PERFECT FAMILY is a nice enough movie with a worthwhile message about acceptance and a fair number of laughs, to boot. Turner takes a character who could have been one dimensional and fake and manages to imbue her with life and depth. Yes, Eileen has issues, but she's still a good person who genuinely cares about her family, even if she doesn't know how to deal with them very well. Even the film's portrayal of the Church is reasonably nuanced, although more conservative Catholics will still probably take issue with some of the film's criticisms, not to mention its positive portrayal of a priest who covertly performs same-sex wedding ceremonies. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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