It Runs In The Family is a film about life threading
at the edges, gradually wearing away like your oldest pair
of denim jeans.
The Grombergs span three generations. Grandfather Mitchell
(Kirk Douglas) plays the aging patriarch recovering
from a stroke, and is witty and rude in the way that only
lovable grandfathers can be. His lawyer son Alex (Michael
Douglas) is at the hub of the family, although he is slowly
losing ground as he realizes that his family is not as tightly
woven as he once thought.
His sons are “weird” as their mother Rebecca (Peters)
describes them. This translates into meaning that the eldest,
Asher (Cameron Douglas) is the quintessential slacker
and a small-time pot dealer unbeknownst to his parents and
11-year-old Eli (Culkin) dresses like a miniature banker
and itemizes his allowance for fun.
It Runs In The Family runs at constant speed as a
family saga, although nothing truly spectacular or unusual
occurs. The ending is a bit flat, but the rest is engaging
despite its everyday feel, and is pretty much everything you
would expect from an onscreen reunion of the Douglas clan.
The ensemble cast works well together, hardly surprising considering
that more than half of them are related and the chemistry
embedded in any family is apparent. Acting certainly runs
in the Douglas family, but their acting chops are not exactly
stretched in this film, with the exception of the senior Douglas.
His current physical ailments not only added to his onscreen
performance, but made him the most interesting character in
the entire movie. Now, nepotism isn’t normally endorsed, but
in this case it was much appreciated. It added a weird voyeuristic
feel to It Runs In The Family, and was perhaps the
single truly unique aspect of the film.
If you want to stray from the usual gamut of reality television
shows for a couple hours, but still want to half-heartedly
play a Peeping Tom, this movie was made for you. But sorry,
there’s no Catherine Zeta-Jones action in this one.
Not that anyone actually wants to see her making out with
Michael Douglas in public.
—Sandra M. Ogle