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IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY

Dir. Fred Schepisi; writ. Jesse Wigutow; feat. Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Bernadette Peters (PG-13)

There is very little happening here, really, just two hours of affected dysfunction. Michael plays Alex Gromberg, who resents his father, Mitchell, and is resented by his sons, Eli (Rory Culkin) and Asher (Cameron Douglas). Other than falling back on the tired

 
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Fishing with the Douglases in It Runs in the Family.
stereotype of the male provider as incapable of expressing love, the script never really explains why this long lineage of antipathy exists; it just asserts that it does. The series of crises that supposedly threaten the Grombergs (Alex almost commits adultery, Asher almost goes to prison, etc.) are sleepy and inoffensive, and seem intended only as impetus for group Douglas hugs calculated to elicit "awwws" from the more easily moved members of the audience. The only interesting character is repugnant. College-aged Asher asks his 11-year-old brother how many girls he's "poked," is too busy selling weed to pick his grandmother up from dialysis, and appears to live in his own filth. You can see, then, why the most beautiful, most intelligent girl on campus is instantly smitten with this lovable rapscallion: because the script says so. As individuals, the Douglases are eminently watchable. This Family, however, proves that the whole isn't always greater than the sum of its parts. — JOE WEISS


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