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Alex Gromberg (Michael Douglas) is the man in the middle Ė between his ageing but feisty father Mitchell (Kirk Douglas) who founded the law firm where Alex works; between his work and his family: wife Rebecca (Bernadette Peters), 11 year old Eli (Rory Culkin) and teenage time bomb Asher (Cameron Douglas). When his mother Evelyn (Diana Douglas) dies, she leaves behind a family that has trouble keeping itself together, with external relationships that do little to help the emotional kerfuffle.†

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Made with love and affection, It Runs In The Family rides on our respect for its main cast, father and son Douglas. The former, 86 at time of shooting his 86th film (as Michael points out) suffers from post-stroke speech difficulties, but his spirit and his professionalism overcome that with a performance that makes an excellent full stop to his legendary career.†

I get the feeling that the script was the nearest thing around for this much desired casting combination to be put into effect. Maybe it was even rushed through development to get it into production as soon as possible.†

Whatís wrong with it? Itís too nice. The dark edges are lightened up, the potential for deep probing with a sharp scalpel is avoided with a blunt razor and the emotional payoffs are insignificant.†

On the plus side, the performances are great, down to little Rory Culkin, the cinematography excellent and the direction confident and as punchy and schmalz-free as the script allows. It is after all, as much about old age and death as it is about family and life. At one stage, old Kirkís Mitchell advises his wife, ďDonít get old.Ē She takes his advice too much to heart.†

But itís not a gloomy film at all. Schepisi highlights (with enjoyable subtlety) the four key relationships: father & son (Mitchell & Alex); husband & wife (Alex and Rebecca); teenager & girlfriend (Asher & Michelle); kid and potential girl friend (Culkin & Abby). From these there are branches to the other relationships, and the filmís main strength is Schepisiís ability to weave them together into a coherent and meaningful picture. It lacks the tension to make it zing, but boasts a great soundtrack with no expense spared.†

Bonus material includes an audio commentary by director Fred Schepisi, several featurettes and deleted scenes.

Published April 15, 2004

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CAST: Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Bernadette Peters, Rory Culkin, Cameron Douglas, Diana Douglas, Michelle Monaghan, Geoffrey Arend, Sarita Choudhury, Irene Gorovaia

DIRECTOR: Fred Schepisi

SCRIPT: Jesse Wigutow

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.35:1; Subtitle Languages English, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Islandic, Hebrew, Turkish, Russian ; Audio Languages English, Italian, Turkish

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary by Director Fred Schepisi ; Family Makes You Nuts: The Making of It Runs In The Family ; All That Grit: Kirk Douglas and the Movies ; Deleted Scenes ; A Confused Evelyn Returns To Her Childhood Apartment ; The Grombergs Prepare To Leave For The Seder ; The Anniversary Dinner Alternate Beginning


DVD RELEASE: March 17, 2004

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