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It Runs in the Family
IMDB Rating: 5.5/10 from 3,888 votes
Release: 25 April 2003 (USA) /

It Runs in the Family

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Fred Schepisi,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: Wealth can't spare three male generations of the dysfunctional Jewish New York Gromberg family grief or grim reality. However successful in life, Alex never felt pleasing pride or proper parental support from sprightly patriarch Mitchell, who sarcastically imposes his own values and priorities on everyone and everything. Alex starts despairing that his modern permissiveness may ruin his own bright firstborn, college-boy Asher, unlike adoring kid-brother Eli. A dorm-drug-bust pushes things to the limit -- or beyond? Written by KGF Vissers

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Critic Reviews


I think the only person who's not a member of the Douglas clan in 'It Runs In The Family' is director Fred Schepisi. Okay, I exaggerate, but there are 3 generations PLAYING 3 generations (Kirk, Michael, and Cameron) and Kirk's ex-wife even plays his doting wife in the film. This is the first time that Kirk & Michael have worked together since the son's bit part in dad's '66 war drama 'Cast A Giant Shadow'. Young Cameron makes his film debut here and doesn't embarrass himself while acting with his world-famous elders. Bernadette Peters and Rory Culkin round out the headlining cast as the mother and youngest son of the Gromberg family.

This picture received plenty of publicity in spring '03 because it was a rare on-screen appearance by movie god Kirk Douglas. He doesn't stray too far from his own reality as a stroke victim with a loving wife and a successful son. In the movie, the Grombergs are New York lawyers. It must have been an act of will not to make them movie producers or something filmic. The drama is actually mostly melodrama, some of which doesn't work. Mitchell (Kirk) has a complicated relationship with Alex (Michael), who has difficult relations with his own sons. Every character goes through romantic troubles of one kind or another (death of a beloved, first love, infidelity) and the movie deserves credit for managing to be cute, but not cloying. It even ends on the right note of non-finality, which I assume was a contribution by Schepisi (who's good at leaving some realistic loose ends in his films).

Kirk probably comes off best here. He does a thing with pillows that just might bust your heart in two. Michael isn't stretching himself (although you can read the reverence for his dad in his eyes) and while Bernadette Peters & Rory Culkin do a nice job, they're merely providing low-key support to the Douglas gang. Kirk's still got it, even if he has to work extra hard to form sentences. The ferocity of 'The Bad And The Beautiful' isn't there anymore (hey, the guy is 88 this year, so the fact that he's working at all is amazing), but Kirk shows some funny facial expressions and double-takes. He's never anything less than compelling, which is the way it's always been in his career.

'It Runs In The Family' was in & out of theatres in about 19 minutes last year, which is a shame. While I'm being generous to recommend it, I confess that I enjoyed myself and really grew to like what was going on in this flick. The humour is scatter-shot, but I like that they didn't camp it up and go for cheap gags. Perhaps Michael, Kirk & company have never had a strained relationship the way the Gromberg's do, but they play the pathos in Jesse Wigutow's script well enough to make you care. Am I being so nice because it's such a treat to see a feisty Kirk Douglas working again? Maybe, but I felt good about these characters, warts and all. Perhaps the Douglas' will do something else together and get Catherine Zeta-Jones to join in the fun.

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